Drew Cohen, better known as Mayer Hawthorne, and high school buddy, Kendall Tucker (14KT) have waited more than 15 years to debut as a duo. Today, the two have finally stepped out as Jaded Incorporated, a name that is said to represent a new auditory affair, one for those who are bored with the current sounds of mainstream music.
Creating a genre they call Beat Wave, Mayer and KT fuse together traditional hip-hop beats with new wave flavor and ghetto tech undertones. “We just took all that and mixed it all together, turned up the tempo and made something new,” 14KT says of their debut album, The Big Knock, set to release June 17. Mayer adds that this collaboration pays homage to their days in Detroit when they would come home from the club and turn on what was considered “ghetto tech” – the late night radio vibe.
While Mayer Hawthorne and 14KT have had very successful solo careers, they each bring different styles to the table that when digested turn into something quite unique. The happy-go-lucky essence of Mayer Hawthorne’s Motown sound is toned down by 14KT’s much slower and deeper beats. Ironically, the two have switched roles when producing this album. “This is the darkside of me,” Mayer says, while 14KT admits he normally doesn’t compose such upbeat music.
Stepping outside of their comfort zone, both experimented with synthesized sounds instead of sampling records to create their first entirely electronic album. To compliment their creative reach, they wanted their debut single “Coconut Sofa” to reflect their imagination through a visual experience. Jaded Incorporated has added an original spin to the trendy style of lyric videos by designing one that uses tattoos to tell the story. Although no faces are seen, both Mayer and KT reassure MiLLENNiAL that they are in fact present in the video. As a little game, try to identify which body parts belong to Mayer or KT.
All tats aside, Jaded Incorporated isn’t your average musical duo. The two met playing basketball in high school back in 1997 when Mayer was a nerdy straight-A student, and KT, an introverted mathematician. They quickly realized they had more in common than basketball and brains when they formed the Athletic Mic League, a rap group that taught them about the music industry the hard way – through a lot of trial and error.
Jaded Incorporated on the State of Detroit
Detroit is no easy place to grow up. Both Mayer and KT were raised in blue-collar families and credit their parents for instilling hard-working values in them. Looking at the dismal economic conditions affecting Detroit today, Mayer optimistically points out, “there are some really exciting things going on…all sorts of renovations…and rebuilding within the community. People are rediscovering what to do with that city.”
Detroit may have hit rock bottom, but the only place to go from here is up. “In the next five to 10 years, Detroit is going to have a difference face,” KT adds, “[the tech industry] is going to be a huge part of it, but it’s really going to be an industry of the people.” As Microsoft and other tech giants move in, Detroit will start to reclaim its prestige as a great American city. “Detroiters are the most resilient people in the world,” Mayer proudly says.
Invoking that resilient spirit as an artist, Mayer advises all aspiring musicians to “take risks.” He further explains, “You’re going to fail sometimes, and that’s important.” Without making a ton of mistakes, Mayer and KT acknowledge they wouldn’t be where they are today. KT confesses that dropping out of college and following his passion to produce music was probably not the best move but it taught him perseverance. “It changed my way of thinking. Sometimes when it feels right, you just have to go for it.”
KT says he learned more skills in the pursuit than he would have traditionally learned in an academic setting. “We had to know what we were doing. We did everything ourselves. That taught us a lot about every different aspect of music…we did our own graphic design, our own marketing, we made beats and produced our own songs.” Working more than one job to make it happen too, KT adds that having a plan made all the difference in their rise to becoming Jaded Incorporated.
As we enter this new era (from 2015 to 2025) a lot will change, but the one thing that won’t is the ability to work hard in order to turn a dream into a reality. Mayer and KT were not overnight successes. 15 years ago they had a plan to become recording artists. Today, they are living out that vision.
Click here to preview The Big Knock or download the EP.
Originally published on June 1, 2014.