I listen to a ton of hip-hop. From Hoodie Allen to Kendrick Lamar to 2 Chainz, I’m willing to give almost anything a spin. So when I say that I’ve never heard anything like Work Music, the new release from Chicago-based duo 8090, it’s saying something. And in the case of Work Music, it’s saying something good.
With Work Music, Seth Williams and Andy Metz have crafted an ode to the 9-5. Other than Kanye West’s “Spaceship”, I can’t think of a single hip-hop track much less an entire album devoted to the workplace. Metz and Williams trade clever lines that flow well with the slew of electro beats that make up the album, taking on everything from getting paid to feeling trapped in a dead end job. It’s a different approach to an album and this conceptual idea drew me to the album.
While the whole project is filled with quality music, Work Music really hits its stride with a three song stretch in the middle of the album. It kicks off with the “Thrift Shop”-esque “Work Shirt,” a wonderfully fun track about going out straight after work. It has the release of the end of a long work day. It’s followed by “Pay Day,” which is as celebratory as you would think. A playful hook accompanies an incredibly interesting discussion of the highs and lows of finally getting paid. I can see myself rolling to the bank with the windows down blasting “Pay Day” on a summer day. 8090 follows the triumph of that song with “Death and Taxes.” This is probably my favorite song on Work Music. It’s an existential song where Metz and Williams wonder if work is all they have to look forward to. They wonder if they’ve become defined by their jobs and wonder if they’ve become trapped. It’s an incredible juxtaposition to “Pay Day,” but it also makes sense. At a certain point you start to wonder if cashing checks is all there is. 8090 really commits to the idea of making an album for people who work and they do a great job of showing all of the aspects of the working life.
It’s always good to see something new in hip-hop, but novelty isn’t enough at a certain point. However, 8090 avoid the gimmick trap by producing good music. Throughout Work Music, the beats and lyrics are crafted with the care that you would expect from a traditional rap album, just with a different subject slant. Even if you claim not to like hip-hop, give Work Music a listen. 8090 brings a new idea of what rap music can be. You can pick up Work Music on iTunes, Amazon or stream it on 8090’s Bandcamp site.