Initially influenced by early-1980s urban R&B, Maxwell progressed rapidly, and by 1991 he was performing on the New York City club scene. Maxwell was able to gain access to a 24-track recording studio and started to record songs for a demo tape, which he circulated among his friends.[ The demo engendered interest, and his official debut concert performance at Manhattan nightclub Nell’s drew a crowd During the next two years, Maxwell wrote and recorded over three hundred songs and played frequently at small venues throughout New York City. Maxwell’s performances continued to draw interest and increase the buzz about him, and he was called “the next Prince” by a writer from Vibe magazine who attended one of his shows.After earning a considerable reputation, Maxwell signed a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1994. He adopted his middle name as a moniker out of respect for his family’s privacy.