Mayer Hawthorne & Jake One Already at Work on 'Tuxedo 2'

Piper Ferguson
Tuxedo

After taking nearly eight years to get their first Tuxedo album out, Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One are already at work on its successor.

"Tuxedo 2 is under way," Hawthorne tells Billboard. "The first album took seven years to make. We're trying to get a head start on the next one so it's not as long." One adds that the new material, "is just kind of an extension of what we've been doing. We'll probably find a different angle at some point."

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Hawthorne was a recent transplant from his native Michigan to the West Coast circa 2007 when he met One, who was already a well-known hip-hop producer. They bonded musically after exchanging mixtapes that "were both, like, boogie funk mixtapes," says Hawthorne. "I just knew him as a hip-hop dude and that's how he knew me, too. So we both listened to these mixtapes and were like, 'Whoa, this is weird. There's no hip-hop music on here.' It was all boogie funk records that nobody else in the world cared about at the time," including tracks by Bernard Wright, Jerry Knight, Don Blackman, David Grusin and Larry Rosen and others.

Not long after, One recalls, "I just started making tracks" that he sent to Hawthorne, who says, "he didn't even tell me to do a song on it, but I was just like, 'Holy shit, this is amazing,' and I wrote a song to it that day and I sent it back to him that day, and that's the first song on the album ['Lost Lover']."

Shortly after that, however, Hawthorne's career blew up with "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out" in 2008. One's escalated as well, producing -- among others -- Hawthorne's 2011 fan favorite "Henny & Gingerale". Nevertheless, they recorded Tuxedo tracks when they could, amassing "probably 25 songs or something," according to Hawthorne, from which they drew the Tuxedo album tracks.

Hawthorne's departure from Universal Republic Records following 2013's Where Does This Door Go opened the door to finish the Tuxedo set (as well as the ghetto tech project The Big Knock with 14KT as Jaded Incorporated). Tuxedo debuted at No. 6 on the R&B Albums chart and No. 2 on the Heatseekers chart, which both pleased and surprised Hawthorne and One. "We really had zero expectations for this entire project," Hawthorne says. "When we got the vinyl in our hands we were like, 'OK, we did it.' that was good enough for us. The fact that offers are coming in for shows is all bonus territory."

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The seven-piece live incarnation of Tuxedo has played all of three live shows, including two at South By Southwest, while Hawthorne and One made DJ appearances in Europe. "The band show is pretty elaborate," One says, and Hawthorne adds that, "It's a production. It's a spectacle, so it's not a cheap thing to do." Nevertheless, he promises that "We're gonna do as much as we can" though he also notes that "You're not gonna see it everywhere." Adds One, "We want to make it something special, so if you see the band thing you're gonna be like, 'Whoa, that was crazy!' We don't want to overplay it or anything like that."

The two are also keeping their own projects active. Hawthorne is working on his fourth solo album, while One is busy working on "almost every rap album that's gonna come out. (Tuxedo) has definitely cut into my beat-making time, but I've got a pretty good archive of shit."