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Baker's Dozen

Creating A Songwriter: The 13 Albums That Made Thundercat
Rob Hakimian , April 14th, 2020 08:53

The virtuoso bassist takes Rob Hakimian through his musical life story with a baker's dozen that traces his trajectory from kid messing with his parents' records to the in-demand player that he is today. Photographs by The1Point8.


Leon Ware - Musical Massage
Leon Ware is one of those people, if not the main person, that taught me what it was to be a songwriter. I'm very happy and fortunate to say that I got a chance to tour with him at a very early age. He was my first experience with songwriting.

When you go listen to Musical Massage, you can hear the spirit behind most of the things people were doing in the 70s; everybody that we know that Leon used to write with, like Minnie Riperton and Quincy Jones and Marvin Gaye, just to name the ones that are easily pinpointable out the gate. You can see his spirit through the music.

Musical Massage is, I think, the perfect soul album. I'm not lying to you. In my opinion there's only a few that exist in that space. Leon Ware's album was the actual definition of soul. And you can hear songs that were copied from it; you can hear like 'oh, this is where this person did this' and 'This is where this person took this'. That's where I learned how to be a songwriter; Leon Ware taught me everything about songwriting. He taught me the emotion behind it, he taught me how to get to those emotions, he showed me what it was to not to ever quit, no matter what is getting thrown at you.

One of my favourite songs that brings tears to my eyes, like to this day is 'Got To Be Loved' on Rockin' You Eternally – I know that's a big jumped from 1976 to 81, but let me say, every time I hear that song I can feel that whatever he was feeling when he wrote it, and I think it hit me at different points in life too.

So this is all about Leon Ware's prowess as a songwriter and why he was the hit maker that he was. I get to spend some time with some quality time with him growing up, and I'm really grateful for that. So Musical Massage is a journey, man, it's a real journey.

I remember telling Tyler, The Creator about Leon Ware, and Tyler's very much to himself, but you can see every now and again Tyler will say something about how important Leon Ware's music is, and I think even Tyler even went so far as to try to write some stuff with Leon.

God rest his soul because he passed a few years ago; that was very difficult. He left me and us with a lot of music, and to this day when I think about my own songs like 'Them Changes' or 'The Turn Down' it's always was a reminder to say how you feel.