‘Work’ creator says Shenseea’s ‘Lick’ is a hit
In 1999, producer Anastas ‘Pupa Nas-T’ Hackett got tingles while making Work, recorded by soca star Denise Belfon. He associates the feeling with a sure hit song, which he said he felt when he heard Shenseea’s Lick, which samples the track.
Lick features rapper Megan Thee Stallion and premiered on Friday.
“I actually heard it ( Lick) months ago when the record label reached out to me to sample the song,” Hackett told The Sunday Gleaner. “I think it’s great. When I heard it, I knew it would be a hit. You can tell after a certain point with the songs that hit; you had a feeling when you were making those songs in the studio that it was gonna hit. It’s just this feeling you get, and you’re like, yo, this is going to be big.”
Unlike the witty, blanketed sexual messages in Work, Lick – a cunnilingus anthem – leaves little to the imagination. While some music fans have been critical of the raunchy lyrics, Hackett didn’t echo the criticism and said it’s just the current musical age.
THE STORY OF ‘WORK’
Hackett was in Trinidad and Tobago working with the island’s top artistes in 1999 when he conceptualised Work.
“I was doing their pre-carnival recordings, and I also had the opportunity to work on my own production ‘cause I was already producing music,” he said. “From that situation, I was in the studio around the clock, seven days a week, just to keep up with the demand for people wanting songs, and that song came up out of one day. I just came up with the music, and eventually, the lyrics came, and we went out and looked to find the original singer, Denise Belfon, a very popular soca artiste. I met her at a show she was doing right as she was leaving the stage. It was like 3 a.m., and I said, ‘Listen, I have a song for you, and I think it’d be a good thing’. She came along to the studio at 3 a.m., and that was when we cut the track and did it in one session.”
Work has managed to find new life with each generation, even blowing up on TikTok during the pandemic. The song has also been sampled and remixed times over, like DJ Flex’s 2019 spin, Put Your Back in It, and the remix done by Masters at Work in 2001.
“It’s a blessing, and it’s humbling because we’re in this thing for life, and there are no guarantees, so when you can do something like this, it’s a huge accomplishment, and I’m still doing it, I’m still doing new stuff.”
Born in Brooklyn to a Trinidadian father and American mother, Hackett always had a strong affinity for music, which he pursued at the High School of Music & Art in Harlem.
“To attend that school, you had to take a test, you had to take an audition,” he said. “The whole family was around me just pushing me to keep doing it, so I had a drum set at home, one at my aunt’s house. Everyone was so supportive. The other home where Caribbean music was so influential is my Trinidadian godmother, Vena Yearwood’s home in Queens Village. I spent a lot of time there and even had a drum kit in the basement.”
He got his entry into the music business at 17 years old through DJ Wayne Chin, who took him to late producer Phillip Smart’s HC&F Recording Studio in Long Island in the ‘80s. Before forming the A band, he became the in-house drummer, playing for acts like Augustus Pablo and The Meditations. The A band has played for reggae and dancehall’s finest and also served as the backing band for Reggae Sunsplash’s world tour for two years.
His work in production started when he was 18 with reggae singer Maxine Miller and has extended to names like Josey Wales, Carlene Davis, Machel Montano, Dennis Brown, Sister Carol, and Maxi Priest. He also served as a producer on Shaggy’s multiplatinum Hotshot album and Kevin Lyttle’s self-titled album, which went gold.
He has been operating his Digital Drum Music record label and Traveling Man Productions since 1996 and spoke of his plans for 2022.
“We have some new music, some new artistes and new styles, so it’s all new right now,” he said. “I’m gonna be bringing back some of those soca grooves and update them, and we’re doing some different kinds of soca styles fused with Afrobeats because they’re all related – the soca, reggae, RnB, and Afrobeats.”