Masters At Work are one of the most important pairings in the history of house music, and that’s not an exaggeration.
The infamous production team is made up of “Little” Louie Vega and Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez, who were given the name by New York house producer Todd Terry in 1990. Under the MAW guise, the New Yorkers began DJing, remixing, and producing tracks across a variety of genres, riding the rising wave of popularity house was enjoying in NYC throughout the 90s.
Providing the soundtrack for the American clubbing scene in the lead up to the millennium, MAW’s raw sound amalgamated a variety of genres from house to hip hop, Latin to jazz, disco to garage, heavily influencing the emerging dance scene across the globe.
In 1993, the two released their seminal LP, The Album, on Cutting Records. The full-length debut spans everything from mid-tempo ragga hip-hop to house and features Paradise Garage vocalist Jocelyn Brown (‘Can’t Stop The Rhythm’) and freestyle-house singer India (‘I Can’t Get No Sleep’). It also includes several short breakbeat sample tracks, including ‘Get Up’ and ‘Blood Vibes’.
In the same year, Masters At Work started work on their Nuyorican Soul project, delivering one of their most well-known tracks ‘The Nervous Track’ on Nervous Records. With contributions from jazz greats Roy Ayers and George Benson, and Latin icons Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri, the Nuyorican Soul album came out in 1997 on Gilles Peterson’s Talkin' Loud label. Now considered a masterpiece, the album broke through genres and boundaries, helping shape dance music into what it is today.
With big releases like Barbara Tucker’s ‘Beautiful People’ and River Ocean's ‘Love & Happiness’, Vega and Gonzalez’s reputation swiftly spread far beyond the tri-state area. Alongside their own records, MAW also began producing for their own coterie of artists, like Barbara Tucker and India, as well as for artists like Luther Vandross, BeBe Winans and George Benson. The duo also provided remixes for the likes of Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Madonna, St. Etienne, Chic, Soul II Soul, Neneh Cherry, Ce Ce Peniston, and many more.
Alongside the MAW and Nuyorican Soul monikers, the duo have worked under the names of KenLou, Sole Fusion, the Bucketheads, and the Untouchables, mastering a wide variety of projects that helped cement their reputation as one of, if not the most versatile and successful dance pairings around.
After over 20 years together, they’re still making music, and driving electronic music down new and inventive paths. When Louie and Kenny are brought together, there is no doubt that they will make innovative, bold and spirited statements with their mixes, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in August. Never has a name been better deserved: house music mastery at its finest.
MAW will be headlining the Groove Odyssey main stage at 51st State Festival on the 5 August. For tickets, head over here: https://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?918556