Some listen to pan pipes and euphoric folk to ease the stress of world events and daily stresses. Fresh from hosting Netflix’s Hip-Hop Evolution, veteran Vancouver rapper Shad takes a more cathartic angle in his new song and video “Work”. Featuring equally veteranized Canadian DJ Skratch Bastid, the track is a sonic blast to the heart of the current power structures. The music and words both deliver a consecutive flurry of devastating punches which should strike a lingering chord with everyone persisting through the malaise, provided they’re not sociopaths.
The beat, produced by Skratch Bastid and Big Kill, is a filthy industrial dirge designed to give all listeners the permanent I’m-taking-a-shit face. The 808 bass grinds over the pounding drums, which are sampled from the track “WHEN I DREAM, I DREAM OF YOU” by defunct Vancouver rock band We Are The City and Shad unleashes venom and vitriol in lethal doses. He uses his raw flow as a blunt instrument to attack the system which perpetuates financial inequality and requires of us only to work, consume, breed and die. He makes his points using a highly effective Molotov cocktail of righteous indignation and dry wit.
“I need versatile, personal, income streams is purposeful
Suckers work for money, you should make your money work for you
I can’t get no work though, guess that means I got some work to do
The poor can’t afford to look poor so I gotta make sure the shoes and shirt is new”
Shad points out the ridiculous premises which have somehow embedded themselves in modern society in a slyly obvious way, spraying sarcastic flecks of spittle at the architects of our demise. The video is a no-frills, grainy punk affair, as we follow Shad on a jaunt around the city, dropping fiery rhetoric in the back of the car. The chorus of “I’m looking for a job, man” will ring as familiar to victims of this and each economic downturn throughout history, caused by an inherently unsustainable model. Shad puts it way better than me, in a way that people might actually pay attention to.
“I’m not a man, I am a work horse
I am a part of the work force
I’m just not sure of the purpose or person I work for
Maybe this voice inside that keeps telling me work more
Give up my wife and my first-born”
This scathing attack on the institutions which seek only to use people up and brush the empty husks aside is a welcome antidote to a lot of the more sterile and affluent hip-hop in recent years. Even the most “conscious” rappers nowadays seem to mostly be dealing in disposable soundbites and token gestures with barely a cursory glance towards the real issues. While most mainstream rappers seem to be torn between honouring their roots and showing how far they’ve outgrown them. A track like this is refreshing due to Shad’s uncanny ability to show a genuine understanding of the topic while addressing it in a way which doesn’t require a political science degree from the listener. There have been rumblings about an album this year, and on this evidence it could either contribute to the world’s destruction or its salvation, it’s 50 50.