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- THE HISTORY OF WORK
- Pupa NasT Featuring Denise "Saucy Wow" Belfon
- By Anastas Pupa NasT Hackett
- I wrote and produced the track entitled "Work" in 1999 during my residency at the Caribbean Sound Basin recording studio in Maraval, Trinidad & Tobago.
- During my time there, I did a tremendous amount of music production during a 6 year span. I worked with the top echelon of Soca recording artist and bands . During this era I also focused on many of the up and coming artist in Trinidad and Tobago. Thats how I got the addition of "Pupa" to my nickname Nas T. I paid special attention to these younger artist who wanted to get into the music business, so in return they revered me as a father figure. I spent countless hours in the studio helping them develop their skills.
- One day while my production team and I was reviewing tracks to decide which riddims would go over well for that years Carnival, the "Work" track was unanimously agreed upon to be released that year.
- After putting the full song together we needed a STRONG female artist to carry the song. I had total access to any artist on the planet to be a part of the song, but there was one artist in particular whose style and persona fitted the song like a glove...."Dennis Belfon" .
- We were so excited about this project that we left the recording studio that night, and actually went to the Soca Fete, where Denise was performing that evening.
- When Denise left the stage after her encore performance, I approached her and said Saucy, I have a track thats perfect for you and I would like you to get on it. She was like ok when do you wanna do it.....I said now would be good. We left the venue with Denice and went back to the recording studio to cut the track @ 3:00 am.
- This was my first time actually working with Denise in the studio, and lets make one thing very clear>Denice Belfon is the real deal !
- After she listened to the instrumental track just a few times she said " ok so I what am I saying ". She was laughing so hard at the story as she nailed it line by line. What was also amazing was how Denise Belfon was able to deliver the story line in "Work" that she just learned with the right attitude, playfulness and lots of sexy. I personally don't know anyone else who could have done what she did that morning.
- I released the single "Work" in Trinidad & Tobago in 1999 , where it was well received. The song played all over town on the radio and in the clubs. After returning to NY in 2000, I decided to make a compilation CD entitled "The Work Rhythm" .
- The Work compilation featured several singers and chanters all on the same rhythm track. This was not the norm at the time in Soca, but was standard in Dancehall music.
- These are SOME OF of the events in my life that was the precursor to my hit "Work"
- My dancehall training came from my musical mentor the late "Phillip Smart" founder of HC&F recording studio in Freeport NY.
- Phillip was instrumental in my development as a musician and record producer. I worked with the who's who in reggae and dancehall @ HC&F under Phillips tutelage. I was the resident drummer/programmer for over 25 years. Super Cat, Sugar Minott, Ninjah Man, Shabba Ranks, Junior Reed, Shaggy, Louie Ranking, Screechie Dan, Red Fox, Maxi Priest, Beris Hammond, Marcia Griffith, Leroy Sibbles, Frankie Paul, Freddie McGregor ,Barrington Levy, Shelly Thunder , Carlene Davis, and Mickey Jarrot are just some of the Dance Hall & Reggae legends that I have worked with.
- When I was not doing sessions @ HC&F , I stayed very busy leading my own reggae backing band "The A Team".
- We were the premier backing band of that era. Top club owners and concert promoters would hire my band to back up reggae and dancehall artist during the 90s in New York and surrounding areas. We also provided backing for all of the artist on the infamous reggae event " Reggae Sunsplash" on two World Tours. My band went on to tour worldwide for 5 years with the King Of Lovers Rock "Maxi Priest". Whenever Steely of Steely & Cleavie music production team from Jamaica was in NY, he would call me in to program and play drums on his projects if Cleavie was absent. Radio personality and DJ, Bobby Kondors of Hot 97 and hit producer Salam Remi sanctioned me to drum and program on their in house productions and various client based projects. It was an honor to work with the legendary musician and arranger Jackie Mittoo at HC&F recording studio who is a foundational part of the art and development of Reggae Music .
- The Dancehall tree began to grow limbs. The popular juggling songs of this era also had a Latin voice. Panama gave us El General / Nando Boom/ Reggae Sam. My friends who are the inventors and visionaries of what is now called Reggae Ton : Michael Ellis and Carl Miller
- sanctioned me to expound on this new idea that was already in motion. The idea was to fuse Dance Hall ,Soca and Hip Hop into one universal sound.
- Jamaicam Heavy weight Producers "Sly and Robbie who " produced "Murder She Wrote" BY Chaka Demus and Pliers) and "Digital Bobby" along side Steely and Clevie s production of "Dem Bow" by Shabba Ranks is the blueprint for the "Reggae Ton"genre until this very day. One can hear different variations of those two-tracks in most Reggae Ton productions.
- The continuation of the development of "Reggae Ton" at HC&F recording studio in America was gaining momentum by the second. It was a planned effort that required specific tempos, drum tones and swings in the drum programming. With focus and determination we brought these ideas to life like musical surgeons. We made hit after hit the raw and passionate artist from Panama,
- sending the message that this new sound is here to stay.
- Carl Miller who was an executive @ VP records saw the possibilities of this merger, and actually moved to Panama to develop this new sound in the early 90's. Panamanians grew up knowing Caribbean music and culture intimately via the Caribbean migrants who settled in Panama seeking labor. The first DJ to chant over records in Panama in the eighties was DJ Renato who did a Spanish version of " Babylon Boops" originally recorded by Jamaican entertainer Lovindeer. This new style influenced the youth heavily in Panama. Now they saw a way to pursue their dreams and aspirations to be in the music industry singing in Spanish which is their first language, instead of English. Many were frustrated trying to do American Rap and not getting anywhere fast. The rap market didn't open doors to rapping in Spanish at that point.
- In 1992-1993 popular local DJs Reggae Sam and El General were aggressively striving to make their mark in the game by performing at local clubs and parties all over Panama. Their talent caught the attention of Carl Miller and Michael Ellis who sent Reggae Sam to Jamaica to record with heavyweight production houses "Digital Bobby "and "King Jammys". El General was the break out star that took Reggae Ton worldwide making hit after hit.
- El Generals live show was getting great reviews with band members from our team in New York. Other Panamanians making their mark was Nando Boom, Carlito Soul and Killer Ranks. I was very excited when Michael Ellis and Carl Miller asked me to program beats (MPC 3000) for the new genre that was already in motion. The process, was to take the drum tracks created at home to HC&F to dump the beats /over dub/ voice and mix. The production was completed with Heavy Weight producer/ engineer "Dennis The " Menace Halliburton ". Dennis went on to put his footprint on this new phenomena by working with a plethora of Spanish artist @ HC&F. Everyone began to hear the new songs playing in the clubs and wanted to be involved. We all played our roll in the development of Reggae Ton. It was a collaborative effort as how Phillip Smart, always wanted everyone to "eat a food".
- My approach to Soca music was heavily influenced by my all of these experiences. Dancehall, Hiphop, Funk, Soul, R&B, House ,Calypso, Pop and Classical were all a part of my eclectic roots. I sensed that Soca would work well with House/Club/Garage music scene because the tempos were similar. Some of the syncopations in Soca may rock the boat in the dance club, BUT there aint no denying or getting away from that straight 4. If you pull back the layers of "WORK" and strip it down you will find a blend of the many genres/styles and riddims that dance together in my mind that has no barriers. Its all colors and tempos and syncopations wrapped up in love.
- I recorded 14 additional tracks on the "Work" riddim @ HC&F recording studio in NY that year , with a collage of Soca and Dance-hall artist. I released my CD on my friend Julian Williams J&W record label in Brooklyn NY. It was a instant hit on the pirate stations in Brooklyn and ultimately crossed into the mainstream .
- We were getting spins from top radio personalities, like Ian Da Goose and Daved Levy just to name a few. The overall consensus was that all the tracks on the compilation had value, but "Work" performed by Denise was the leader and stood apart from the rest .
- My friend Roger Ugly who was spinning House/Club music for years called up one day to say that my song "Work"was heating up in the dance clubs.
- I was bugging out because at that time we thought that it was only spinning in the West Indian market. A few weeks later, Roger took the track to play for his friends "The Masters @ Work, Little Louie Vega and Kenny Dope.
- Another friend legendary DJ/Producer "Sting International called up to say that he got a call from DJ Louie Vega saying that there was a Soca song that is doing well in the club and he wanted to find the producer. When Sting went to see him to hear the song he read the CD label and it was my "Work" compilation CD...Sting laughed and said thats my homeboy NasT.
- I began to meet with The Masters @ Work after Stings introduction and we began to put together strategies to get a deal for "Work". The Masters told us that they tried the record out in New York, Miami, Ibiza and other markets and the feedback was crazy. "Its a hit " I was very excited to be actually working with these legendary and very influential DJs . I have always liked their style and thought that a collaboration with them was the beginning of bigger and better things to come.
- My first deal was with The Masters @ Work in 2001. "Work" was released on their compilation CD entitled " Our time Is Coming " I remember that I could hardly wait to hear the remix by The Masters @ Work before the CD release . I was shocked speechless when I heard the finally heard the remix.
- I expected
- more of a traditional house flip of "Work" from them, but it was actually a duplication of what I had already done??? What ??? If you listen to both cuts back to back you couldn't tell one from the other. The same beat and the same vocals that Denice cut in Trinidad after her show @ 3:00 am. Eventually other re mixes were done but, the hit record was the same original done by me in Trinidad. The release with The Masters, put me in the background and The Masters @ Work up front.
- This was new territory for us and I was not sure exactly how to handle this thing. Knowing my ability to bridge cultures and ideas, I looked at this as a opportunity to engage more with the House/Garage club scene. So, I went along with the program hoping that it will eventually pay off and we will step up the game and gain more notoriety by our new affiliations.
- I knew that the collaboration of Caribbean and Dance music could pave the way for the sound that I was developing. The talented artist that I have had the pleasure of working with were all behind me .The goal was to crossover with Soca and Dance Hall as the engine taking us into international markets as a movement. Work did achieve the success that I hoped it would and is still gaining momentum with new audiences globally.
- Even though the vision that I had to do more collaborations with The Masters @ Work did not work out ( pun intended) , the reaction to "Work" globally and to hear the MANY remixes submitted from DJ s and Producers from all the world gives me joy and total satisfaction.
- In 2008 I, opened my own recording studio in Brooklyn New york "Over The Bridge ". I have continued writing and producing on various projects for my local and international clients. I also partnered with legendary heavyweight producer "Rashad Ringo Smith" on several projects for "Sony" @ Over The Bridge. Currently I am also setting up another location "Over The Bridge South " in Columbia SC. The South is budding with talent and opportunities.The climate is similar to the Caribbean and the atmosphere is phenomenal. We will be in Panama later this year to continue the mission and embrace another generation of raw talent. My mantra is that music and culture should not have barriers.
- I have recently signed a deal with Sony with "Danny Marquez/Global DJs "for yet another remix project of 'Work".
- The "Global DJs" mix is gaining momentum and getting great reviews.
- We get so many request to remix "Work", but when I heard how the Global DJs flipped it I was like hell yeah lets do it. I am currently working on a project with legendary hit maker "Strafe" of "Set It Off "fame.
- The fusion experiment worked out quite well after all. We are suddenly swamped with projects requesting dancehall and soca tracks from all over the world.
- Time is not measured by the clock but by the moments shared . The future is bright.
- Anastas NasT Hackett aka Pupa NasT
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