Two native New Yorkers with an insatiable appetite for music of every genre, Louie Vega and Kenny Dope aka Masters At Work have an extraordinary body of work behind them.
One of their earliest records, ‘The Ha Dance’, was made in just a couple of hours, with the main sample taken from the film ‘Trading Places’: an example of how Masters At Work’s music was continually inspired by the culture and times in which they lived. At a time where the hip-hop and house crowds were often found at the same parties and venues, Vega reminisces of how it was “an amazing time because everyone was into all kinds of different things... and we were bridging those gaps between the genres.”
‘The Ha Dance’ was a cornerstone of the ballroom and vogue underground scene. Like the majority of influential records it has been broken down and re-worked countless times over the years, but it is the original the remains the definitive version, with the early 90s New York scene readily embracing the challenging, industrial sounds, softened somewhat by the well-known sample.
‘The Ha Dance’ was relatively tough in the context of the house music of its time but became an anthem for the ballroom scene taking place in Harlem and the Lower East Side, a scene that erupted in the early 90’s with Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Deep in Vogue’ and then Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ both climbing the charts.
‘The Ha Dance’ is still being played re-worked and re-interpreted today. DJ MikeQ – a New Jersey based DJ and producer making modern-day ballroom beats– recognizes the importance of the song. “It’s definitely all about ‘The Ha’ … I used the Ha for my first track because I knew that’s what they wanted to hear”. More recently, Kingdom (who runs label Fade To Mind) also nods to the track and the scene it created in his track ‘Stalker Ha’.
Perhaps more than any other MAW production, ‘The Ha Dance’ perfectly illustrates the duo’s innate ability to take cues from a distinct range of musical influences in order to create something original, exciting and hugely influential.
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