Before he was a soul-powered party starter, Mayer Hawthorne was a hip-hop producer with a love of finding obscure records for his samples and DJ sets.
So leading up to his show on May 8 at Grand Central, we here at Crossfade asked Mr. Hawthorne to select six cuts that our readers absolutely need to hear.
Little Beaver's "Party Down"
Mayer Hawthorne says: "Anybody who lives in Florida should definitely check out Little Beaver. Anything of his. He's the illest thing to come out of Florida."
Willie Hale moved to Florida in the 1960s as a teenager and soon became a standout virtuoso session guitarist. He released several solo albums in the 1970s and "Party Down" was his biggest hit. He's since played on Joss Stone albums while also being sampled by Jay-Z and People Under the Stairs.
George McCrae's "Rock Your Baby"
Mayer Hawthorne says: "Anything from TK Records."
TK Records was a Miami record label that released some of the best singles of the early disco era. It's probably best remembered for being home to KC & The Sunshine Band. But Little Beaver's Willie Hale of Little Beaver played on many TK Records recordings too.
Miami's "Party Freaks"
Mayer Hawthorne says: "Coked-out fuzz disco shit."
Miami could be considered TK Records' equivalent to the Funk Brothers, serving as the house band for many of the label's recording sessions, including some for George McCrae and Little Beaver. They identified, like you perhaps, as party freaks.
Benny Sings' "Big Brown Eyes"
Mayer Hawthorne says: "I don't really listen to new soul. I'm more into indie rock and dance stuff lately and would definitely recommend a cat from Amsterdam, Benny Sings. ART is the album, that's my favorite right now. That's more on, like, some yacht rock type of shit."
Kindness's "Gee Up"
Mayer Hawthorne says: "I really love the new Kindness. He just put out a new album and it's really good. I think he might be British. Yeah, he's definitely British."
Several frustrating Google searches seem to confirm that Kindness is British.
The Stepkids' "La La"
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Mayer Hawthorne says: "That's the jam. I'm taking them out on tour."
Mayer Hawthorne is not lying to you. It's true that "La La" is the jam and The Stepkids are the opening band on his current tour. See you on the dance floor, party freaks.
Mayer Hawthorne and The County with The Stepkids. Tuesday, May 8. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $18 plus fees via fla.vor.us. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.