Isaac Hayes: We Like Ike

As an opinionated teen in the early ’70s, I hated Barry White for stealing Isaac Hayes’s sound — even though by 1973 Hayes had evolved so far beyond the gravel-voiced love god of his late-’60s recordings that he wouldn’t have begrudged White or anybody else their assumption of his earlier incarnations Cotton picker, meat packer, singer, writer, producer, corporate executive, community activist, actor — Hayes has worn an astonishing array of hats. After cutting through the first half of his life like a diamond through a sack of glass (going from Stax to his own ABC-distributed label to Columbia), Hayes hit some kind of creative wall and all but disappeared under the weight of his own legend. “I had a renegade mentality,” Hayes admits. “I always dared to go where other people said: “you can’t go there.” But at one [point] I looked around and all I was hearing was me, and people trying to be me. And I started to worry about it.” Like many high-profile overachievers, Hayes ultimately chose to step away from the spotlight for awhile. Continue reading “Isaac Hayes: We Like Ike”

Dallas Austin: Manchild in the Promised Land

1991 WAS A banner year for Dallas Austin. The Atlanta writer-producer was barely out of his teens when two records he made for Motown with then-unknown acts — “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men and “Iesha” by Another Bad Creation — became massive crossover hits, bringing fresh energy to a label whose roster had grown cold and uninspired by the end of the ’80s. Continue reading “Dallas Austin: Manchild in the Promised Land”