The first thing most people think when they hear those iconic lyrics (apart from, Oh yes, I love this song!) is Masters At Work. After all, they are the artist on the 2001 release of “Work”. But the story starts before them, in the winter of 1999, with the New York-based music producer Anastas “Pupa Nas T” Hackett.
A drummer by trade, Hackett was working in Trinidad’s Caribbean Sound Basin studios in 1999. One evening during downtime, he and writer Harkness Taitt put together “Work” and asked local Soca artist Denise Belfon to vocal it. Not intended as a house track, JW Productions – a Brooklyn label specialising in Caribbean music – released it. One of the early DJs to pick up on this was NYC’s Roger Ugly. He, in turn, shared it with Louie Vega. Then, when Masters At Work played it to an insane reaction at WMC in 2000, they got on board for the 2001 release.
Fast forward to 2022, and Kevin McKay is playing in Hackney’s Night Tales with resident Armand. Armand mixes the acapella of “Work” with a pulsating house cut, and the place goes wild. The following day McKay made an edit and started on a quest to find out who owned the master. After months of searching, Kevin tracks Hackett down and plays his demo. Hackett immediately agrees to license the song. He is such a fan of the new production he says McKay and him “are like twins”.
“It is such an iconic vocal that I had to make sure the beat was as good as it could be,” states McKay. “Knowing Anastas is a drummer, I was so happy when he told me he loved the track.”
McKay has created a monster rhythm for Belfon’s incredible vocal. Taking its inspiration from classic rhythm bangers like “Jingo” and “Give It Up” by the Goodmen, this is the kind of heavy-weight club beat that should see the song at the top of many DJ’s playlists all over again.