DAR Music: The Rise Of Mac Ayres


It's very rare to see an artist that grabs you instantly from the first note that they sing, but Mac Ayres fits that description perfectly. The New York born artist who just turned 24 last month has created a bit of fanfare for himself over the last 4 years and with the release of his newest project, Magic 8Ball, Mac has set out to showcase that he is quite possibly THE leader of the new school in R&B and soul.  Today, we gathered three minds (yours truly included) to talk about what they appreciate about Mac the most and why his music holds a special place for them. 


Peagle05

I remember what got me into Mac Ayres’ music. A twitter recommendation. One song. “Easy”. I don’t even really know what made me click the track. I mean I was looking for new music at the time but not hard enough to make me stop whatever I was doing at the time to check for random recommendations. And yet, I found myself doing just that. From the first notes of what I would later learn is the song that really put Mac on, I was hooked. There was a feeling that came with the way the music was arranged and the way he sang it that grabbed me immediately. To be clear, I don't mean that it grabbed me like got my attention, I mean grabbed like hemmed me up and threw me on the wall. I downloaded the rest of his Drive Slow EP and his full length project Something To Feel, his only two projects out at the time and started listening. Now I don’t recommend music lightly, especially R&B because I think there’s a more personal and emotional element to connecting to that genre that makes it hard to really quantify what it is that you like about that artist and I like to listen to everything before making the call. However with Mac? I knew 3 songs into Drive Slow that I needed to hit True up and put him on. I hadn’t even HEARD Something To Feel at all. That’s how certain I was that he was gonna rock with it. And by the time I finished Something To Feel, I knew I had a new artist to add to my favorites. 


This led to me making damn sure I put as many people on to his music as possible because it’s just that good. We’re 4 official projects in with this dude and he literally does not have a weak song in his catalog. Not one. The obvious care he puts into each and every track shines through. This dude just knows how to make music. Point blank. I went to his concert back before every thing went crazy when he was touring his third project JuiceBox and I can say without a doubt he puts on an incredible live show that showcases his love for music and that’s what I think makes me gravitate toward his music more than anything. The love for it is OBVIOUS. His most recent release “Magic 8-Ball” is the perfect example of his ability to make music with some bounce that has feeling. He’s said two of his influences are Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, and you can hear it. The one thing he has in common with those two is soul and emotion. You feel that shit. And anyone who knows me knows, I don’t make that comment lightly especially bringing MJ into it. But Mac is legit, and I can’t wait to see what else he does with his music. It’s not often you come across an artist like this. And when you do, you make sure as many people as possible know about him. So go listen. You’ll thank us later. 


Kendraxtamia

Since I became a fan of Tiny Desk Concerts, I have been patiently waiting for Mac Ayres to get a chance to showcase his talent on the NPR platform and my wish finally came true about a month ago, and if that wasn’t good enough, we got a taste of some new music that Mac Ayres had been working on when he premiered his new song “Sometimes.” He announced a new project shortly and on January 8th, “Magic 8Ball” dropped and as someone who has been following Mac Ayres since “Drive Slow”, this is just another great addition to his catalog.

This album is incredibly intoxicating and flows together extremely well. Not to say the songs all sound the same, but this is definitely one of those albums you can put on and just let ride because there are no bad songs that are holding it back. While it’s about 30 degrees here in Chicago with snow on the ground, this project feels like summer and makes me want to drive with all my windows down, especially when you have a song titled “Sunny & 62” which is an incredible intro. Mac Ayres is carving such a special lane for himself and building an amazing discography along the way and for the future, I would love to see him lend his talents and collaborate with other artists. SiR or Masego, perhaps?


True God

I first got hip to Mac and his music back in 2017/2018 through Peagle obviously. I was skeptical at first honestly. I saw a bald white kid with a hat on and instantly had this idea that what he was going to sing couldn't have been that special. However, Peagle and I have almost never steered each other wrong with music recommendations, so I went in listening with fairly open ears. The first thing I played was of course Drive Slow and once I hit Google, the songs that seemed to gain the most notoriety were "Easy" and "Calvin's Joint". So naturally, I skipped those songs first. Usually, with artists and their biggest songs, those songs are the ones that I like the least. So, as I scrolled the tracklist, I saw a song titled "The Devil In The Details" and was intrigued. I clicked this song and the production instantly gave me the Jay-Z in the studio face. The lush instrumentation really soothed the soul and when Mac came in with "I don't want to wake up from it", it was a wrap. I was SOLD. Instantly. I kept listening, thinking maybe I would find that one song or two songs that throw me off and while I'd come back to revisit some of the music, this guy wouldn't be one of my favorites. I was WRONG. 

As "The Devil In The Details" came to an end, I was wondering what could be next. A smooth sound came in and built to a drop that was near melodic heaven. The song I'm referring to of course is "Slow Down", which is one of my favorite Mac songs still today. As a lover of R&B and soul music (more so than hip hop the last 3-4 years), slow jams are my preferred listening choice. Mac has so many of those in his catalog, but "Slow Down" is SPECIAL. Other songs on Drive Slow were amazing as well, such as "Show Me" and "Lonely", and Mac really left an amazing first impression with the listener. Drive Slow honestly is my second favorite Mac project still out of his 4, but I also have immense love for his second project and first "full length" album Something To Feel. I remember listening to it for the first time and I think I was in the living room playing PS4 and just zoned out. When the sound of "Roses" hit, I had yet another Mac slow jam classic to add to my favorites. Other highlights from Something To Feel include "Waiting", "Under", "Get To You Again", and another favorite "Pickled Ginger". 

In 2019, Mac would release his third project Juicebox and once again solidify himself in the upper echelon of R&B and soul. Before Juicebox released, I found a lot of the Soundcloud tracks he had posted prior and I found myself even more enamored with the music. From the short interludes to the full length songs, everything on Mac's Soundcloud was excellent as well, proving the theory that Peagle and I have that Mac cannot miss musically. I went to see Mac live during the Juicebox tour (which comes along with a funny story about an ex of mine trying to prevent me from going into the concert but....yeah) and found myself appreciating the album even more. Juicebox is truly a summer album, as the production feels a lot more upbeat than the previous two projects and a lot funkier as well, which was also a welcome change too. Mac still brought some of those slow jam classics with him on Juicebox with the flawless "Get Away", which is another favorite of mine. Other highlights on Juicebox include "Walking Home", "Jumping Off The Moon", "Saving", and the beautiful closer "Something More". Juicebox is an excellent album and I've revisited more times than I count since 2019. 


Now, let's get to the newest addition to the catalog, Magic 8Ball. In just a few days, this has become my favorite Mac project. The production, the cohesiveness, everything about this 8 track project is amazing. It has the best flow of any Mac project, and while Mac has no weak tracks in his discography truly, every song here is in a class of its own. The opening song "Sunny & 62" feels like a nirvana of soul and funk combined and the laid back vibe gives the perfect introduction to his newest. As Kendra mentioned, Mac premiered "Sometimes" on the Tiny Desk, and it is a beautiful song, and a perfect track to follow the intro. However, Mac really hits his stride with one of the best four song runs in his career, scratch that, THE BEST four song run in his career on a project. When you reach that  "Nothing Else", "Brand New", "Never Let Me Go", and "Every Time" stretch, as a listener, you can't help but be amazed at the artistry. For me, "Never Let Me Go" and "Every Time" are the two best songs here and two of the best songs Mac has ever created in his career. When vocals, lyrics, production, and overall sound combine in this way, there's no denying it. I've probably played "Every Time" about 50 times since the project dropped and I'm sure that number reaches 100 by the end of this week. 

While Mac hasn't received the credit he truly deserves yet, the time is coming. When you are great and remain consistent, eventually you break through and he's definitely as close to the cusp of that than ever. Easy has over 100 million streams via Spotify while Slow Down is just over 40 million streams, so Mac is reaching a very large audience considering his status as an indie artist. With over 1.6 million monthly listeners on the streaming platform as well, Mac is carving out a legacy one step at a time, and honestly, he's on a very short list of my favorite artists now. If he isn't on yours yet, just give it some more time. He will be. 

-DAR

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