Masters At Work pt. 2 (TN-010)

Continuing from where we left off, it’s the crack of the 90s, and Little Louie Vega and Kenny Dope Gonzalez are well on their way to building their reputation as Masters at Work. 1993 saw them release their first album, The Album. A combination of singles released up to that point as well as some new production, it includes some early classics, like Blood Vibes. As remixers, MAW found themselves working with artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Ce Ce Peninston, and Donna Summer, but the best was still yet to come.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Nuyorican Soul – Runaway
[Talkin’ Loud – 1997] BUY
Once upon a time, way back when DJs were gathering underground popularity by extending and remixing the pop stars of the time, DJ of DJs Larry Levan had a unique concept. He dreamed of creating a studio album in which the DJ is the maestro. This album would consist of DJ-produced tracks featuring the voices and elements of that DJ’s favorite singers and musicians. In the 1997 album titled Nuyorican Soul by Masters at Work fulfilled that dream. On Nuyorican Soul, MAW celebrate both their Puerto Rican and disco roots and summon the talents of musicians George Benson, Vince Montana, Jocelyn Brown, Roy Ayers, and Tito Puente to create an album that pays tribute to the artists they love. Looking back more than 10 years later it’s more clear than ever that rather than sagging with the overburdening stink of excess stardom, Nuyorican Soul has established itself as one of the greatest dance albums of all time.

This track is a redux of the disco classic of the same name by the Salsoul Orchestra and Lolleata Holloway, Runaway is one of the four singles off of the Nuyorican Soul album. With Louie Vega’s ex-wife La India providing the vocals, they do soulful justice to the original. It was the first single to receive the remix treatment, retouched by 90s greats Armand Van Helden and Mousse T. Armand’s mix (Mogoloids in Space) bumps, and Mousse T provides a more direct dancefloor translation.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Masters at Work – La India Con La Voe (Viva Puerto Rico) (MAW Tribin’)
[MAW Records – 1997] BUY
In case the parentheses aren’t obvious enough, this tribal tune is an ode to the island of Puerto Rico. Featuring samples of a cheering concert crowd, nationalist & spiritual cries, and La India’s sweet voice all over a set of lively drums, this track has Spanish Harlem Block Party written all over it.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Kenlou – Gimme Groove
[MAW Records – 1995] BUY
Gimme Groove
is the B-side buddy to Kenlou’s classic The Bounce (which happens to be amongst Cnyce’s favorite tracks- too treasured to post!). Whereas The Bounce is more lively, Gimme Groove is a deeper, nine-minute mood-setter of a track that can really set the tone for a good night out. Definitely maintains the sexy.

Masters At Work pt. 1 (TN-009)


M.A.W. in Muzik Mag in 1997

Editor’s Note: this is the first post from our intern Chinua. He’s a big fan of French touch, but we’re trying to teach him all about the history of house and techno too. To start him on the right path we gave him an assignment to learn all about M.A.W. and tell you what he learned. So please give a warm Soul Clap blog welcome to our young gun, ChinChin.

In the late eighties, Carl Kenneth Gonzalez and Luis Fernando Vager, better known as Kenny “Dope” and “Little” Louie Vega, but best known as Masters At Work, first met through mutual friend Todd Terry after Vega took interest in Gonzalez’s “A Touch of Salsa”. The turn of the decade saw the start of a solid repertoire of dance-floor essentials under a number of monikers, starting with their single “Blood Vibes”. Masters At Work’s influences include latin, jazz, hip-hop, disco, soul, Larry Levan, David Mancuso, Red Alert, Chuck Chillout, Tony Humphries and even The Clash— in essence, the sounds of the eclectic New York City they knew.

Born in Brooklyn in 1970, Dope took to the emerging hip-hop sound, following radio DJs like Marley Marl, Teddy Ted and Awesome Two. As a teen he worked in a record store and DJ-ed on the side. It wasn’t long before Dope founded a DJ crew called— you guessed it— Masters At Work, doing up block-parties left and right. Nor was it long before Gonzalez crossed paths with Todd Terry. Here’s the deal: Terry borrowed the Masters At Work name for releasing tracks (Alright, Alright & Dum Dum Cry), and in exchange Dope got to play with Terry’s production equipment.

Whereas Kenny Dope provided Masters at work with the hip-hop style beats and disco grooves, Louie Vega brought in the latin and soul. Bronx-native Vega was born into a latin music-driven family (his uncle is Hector Lavoe), clearly setting the tone for his music career. Vega’s big sisters exposed the young teenager to clubland, and half a decade later he found himself spinning at the Studio 54, making and breaking latin freestyle records. By this time, Vega and Todd Terry were on vinyl-sharing terms, which explains how Vega hooked up with Dope.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


The Cover Girls – Wishing On A Star (Magic Sessions Vocal Dub) [Epic – 1992]
DOWNLOAD | BUY
The Cover Girls, one of the first Latin freestyle acts to make it big on the charts in the early nineties, released their version of the much-covered “Wishing On A Star” in ’92. The single went on to place ninth on the Billboard Top 10, making it kind of a big deal back then. It was around this time that Masters At Work started churning out remixes of pop artists, converting radio music into minimal, dubby, dance floor beats.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Masters At Work – The Ha Dance (Ken/Lou Mixx) [Cutting Records – 1991]
DOWNLOAD | BUY
Cutting Records, which has fallen off in recent years, was once an integral part of the electro (that is, real electro), house and and freestyle scene in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. They are responsible for putting out the electro classic, “Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)” by Hashim. Cutting Records also released many of Masters At Work’s early tracks, including their debut single, Blood Vibes, as well as their debut album, titled The Album. The Ha Dance (Ken/Lou Mixx) accompanied their Blood Vibes release, and includes a sample from this classic comedy. Can you find it?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Chris Cuevas – Hip Hop (Masters At Work Dub) [Atlantic – 1991]
DOWNLOAD | BUY
Who the heck is Chris Cuevas? I don’t know either, but the stripped down skippy beats and chopped up piano synths on this track embody the early M.A.W. sound to a t and helped lay the foundation for the whole Strictly Rhythm NYC thing and later the UK garage thing. So listen, understand, download, and play for dancefloor destruction, even today.