Hudson Mohawke is not a Lower Manhattan-based hairstyle. He doesn’t even wear a Lower Manhattan-based hairstyle. But, I mean, he constructed the beat behind Yeezy’s “Blood on the Leaves,” which is perhaps the best song on Yeezus, and that’s good enough for me.
Born Ross Birchard, Hudson Mohawke looks like a literal sixteen-year-old but is actually 29. His dad gave him his first pair of turntables when he was 11. At 15, Mohawke was the youngest-ever UK DMC finalist. Except then, he spun under the name “DJ Itchy,” which is horrible. His career took off in his native Glasgow, Scotland, by getting radio slots, performing at Glasgow University, and DJing in clubs under the name DJ Mayhem, a big step up from DJ Itchy.
Mohawke had no real recognition outside the viral boundaries of SoundCloud etcetera until 2012. His repertoire was mostly composed of underground releases and mixes circulated online, even after signing to Warp Records in 2009. His first official release, “Spotted,” was featured on the Rush Hour beat compilation Beat Dimensions Vol. 1, and his second official release, “Free Mo,” was released on the Ubiquity Records various-artists compilation Choices, Vol. 1. In 2008, his first official EP, Ooops!, was an underground hit.
Like too many things in the music industry, such as Paul McCartney and the hook from Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit,” HudMo didn’t get full recognition until he was discovered by Kanye West. His collaborations with Kanye began in 2012 on Kanye’s G.O.O.D Music label compilation album, Cruel Summer. In January 2013, HudMo officially joined G.O.O.D Music as a producer and stayed signed to Warp Records and LuckyMe as an artist.
Hudson has historically had way more success as a collaborator than he has as a solo artist, which makes sense when you consider what he’s known for doing best: “genre-smashing production, expertly crafting what so many attempt and fail, that bigger-than-life blend of mainstream rap beats, experimental electronic hip hop and, crucially, rave.” His most recent releases, all on the four-track Chimes EP–HudMo’s ninth EP–echo his work on “Blood on the Leaves.” “Chimes,” the title track, will get the crowd ~rolling~ this SW for sure. Even better than the original, though, is the remix featuring Travi$ Scott, French Montana Kardashian, and… Pusha T. Which means that Pusha T could head to Browntown a night early and go on stage for his verse and make the crowd completely lose its shit. That would be GREAT.
Though his repertoire is neither widely known nor appreciated outside of the “underground,” it will be soon. And this is, of course, a beautiful thing that BCA does best–picking artists up just before their peaks. On June 16th, HudMo will release a new full-length fourteen-track album, Lantern, via Warp. In a press release, HudMo said, “This album is everything I’ve been working towards. I wanted to make a classic–at least for me and my friends. I never wanted to be any genre. I wanted to be my own thing. Everything.” Lantern includes collabs with Jhené Aiko, Miguel, Antony, and a few others.
Following performances at SXSW in March, HudMo will be here at Brown and then kick off a summer UK tour. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of material upon which we can base our pre-show judgments of Hudson Mohawke, but if his degree of separation from Kanye is any indicator of his talent, we don’t have much to be concerned about. Except for his tendency to use excessively jarring bass that is very overwhelming live. I’ve seen Kanye perform “Blood on the Leaves” at MSG. So trust me, I know.