Review: Tuxedo “Tuxedo”

An ageless disco sound has the power to transcend time and space. Due to the development of a new club culture embracing the electronic dance music movement, still the whole genre has suffered from a latent omnipresence during the last decades. But thanks to the musical efforts of Chromeo and Mark Ronson, who currently catapults the whole genre back into the mainstream with “Uptown Funk”, its mere existence in the shadow of public’s attention is history. The perfect point of departure for a fashionable new funk duo to arrive on the scene. The obscure twosome is named Tuxedo and surprinsingly comprised of already very acclaimed solo artists, who are nonetheless than the Grammy-nominated neo-soul singer Mayer Hawthorne and boom-bap producer Jake One. Both equipped with an impressive discography have made it to their noble mission to revitalize the glamorous disco era in 2015.

In the world of Tuxedo it is all about staying classy. This ranges from the musicians they call their influences, such as the 80’s disco-soul bands Shalamar (“A Night To Remember”) and The Whispers (“Rock Steady”), to the preferred drink ‘Henny and Gingerale’ they choose to sip during their DJ-set-inspired live performances. Tuxedo was formed back in 2006 with a loose exchange of mixtapes between Hawthorne and One, which then evolved into the release of a 3-track EP in 2013. Now two years later, the mystery of ‘who is behind Tuxedo’ is lifted and their first self-titled long-player is out to conquer the world.

Smoothly introduced to the light and bright sonic concept of the album, the first songs “Lost Lover” and “R U Ready” embark the listener on a musical voyage. It is a journey to times, in which music was intended to enable the average person to escape from the harsh reality of economic depression and strained political situations. Repetitive soft-headed lyrics, catchy melodies and synthesized, string-heavy as well as clap-driven four-to-the-floor beats, revive the sound of the socioculturally impactful discotheque epoch. There is every indication that Tuxedo aims at providing the soundtrack for people to celebrate life and ultimately, get out of their shell and dance. Mission accomplished. Especially, on “Do It” in which Hawthorne’s smooth falsetto voice chants joyfully “Ooh I got a new one for ya, I like the way that sounds” it is hard to keep still any of the available body parts. From the first, to the second, to the third listen the sympathy for Hawthorne’s enthusiasm and passion in this song grows continually. Actually, the repeat button must have been invented for songs like this. It is so uplifting and captivating, by listening to the song you can actually see Jake One and Mayer Hawthorne in the studio producing the song playfully in a loose jam session with drinks and laughter.

If you speak of the seventies as the high time of disco, G-funk can be defined as the sound of early nineties. Born as a sub-genre of hip hop and coined by the likes of Too Short and Dr Dre, it was the musical home of one of the most versatile singers that has ever existed, Nate Dogg. The legendary West Coast singer who passed away in 2011, defined the signature sound of blending soul and funk with a straight up hip hop spirit. In remembrance to his legacy, Tuxedo remade Snoop Dogg’s classic “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’ Have None)” on “Number One” in which Nate Dogg originally has a leading singing part in. Rewritten with less explicit, but therefore more romantic lyrics in a Mayer Hawthorne kind of way, the listener feels inclined to naturally sing along.

As soon as the sound of Tuxedo comes in you have the urge to do a line dance in an old school ‘Soul Train’ fashion. It makes you dance, free your mind and enjoy the moment. Something that disco-driven music is ultimately supposed to achieve. Tuxedo’s retro-funk sound evokes to leave problems behind, immerse in the music and get fully absorbed in it. The mixture of a Jake One’s elaborate production techniques and Mayer Hawthorne’s soulful voice, lives up the standard of fresh funk music that would have worked as good in the mid 80’s, as it does now. It’s heartfelt music derived from two music lovers digging the crates so deeply that they became a part of it. Tuxedo is futuristic funk music at its best, interchangeably and undeniably.