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Workforce - Capturing Human Emotion
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

When was the last time you really connected with the lyrics of a song?

Chris Rock once joked that when Biggie rapped “Mo Money, Mo Problems” he had come up with one of the least relatable lyrics in the history of music. The Danbury duo of Workforce, which consists of lifelong friends Hawl Digg, who handles the rhymes, and Dirt E. Dutch, who handles the beats, are on the other end of that spectrum. Dutch has even found himself in awe of Hawl’s ability to craft lyrics that so accurately hit the bull’s eye of the target of human emotions.

“I was just telling Hawl I was going through something with my girlfriend recently and one of his songs came on and it really hit me emotionally,” Dutch recalls, “I was like wow, I know exactly what this guy is talking about. The song was ‘Wind.’ He wrote it when he was going through a relationship problem and it almost matched identically what I was going through.”

“Wind” is featured on Workforce’s debut album, Apples and Sunshine. The album, according to Dutch, is “an emotional journey. There’s a connection with people’s every day lives.” The relatable nature of Apples and Sunshine stems from the personal vibes of the artists who made it. Hawl explains that even the name of the group gives an inkling as to what people can expect when they listen to a Workforce song. “It represents the common people, the hardworking people, which I think of myself as, a regular everyday person.” Consider it blue collar hip-hop and a welcome respite for those who are tired of the overly flashy artists who spend the majority of their time focused on their jewelry.

The album’s title comes from an inside joke. “In my rhymes I make a lot of references to sunshine,” Hawl explains, “and Dutch started calling me out on it, so it became an inside joke.” “He was Mr. Sunshine,” Dutch says with a laugh. The Apples part of the album title also came as a result of Hawl’s lyrics, as he notes “I started making more and more references to bad apples and rotten fruit and things of that nature and it just clicked. I thought it was funny and it also represents the duality of bad and good. The Apples is short for bad apples.” The word “bad” was taken out of the title because Dutch says “Bad Apples and Sunshine didn’t ring as well.”

Apples and Sunshine is an album that’s been very long awaited by both fans who’ve been watching Workforce perform since the end of ’03, and Hawl and Dutch themselves, who’ve been working on the album for quite a while. According to Dutch, “we recorded ‘Set It Straight’ and ‘Maybe’ three years ago, so it’s been a three year process.” He adds “half of these songs were already done maybe two years ago and we had been performing most of them live for the past two years. We just had to get in and finally wrap up the second half of the album. That came together in mid to late last year.” Hawl notes “it should have been a lot sooner.”

Hawl and Dutch should cut themselves a little slack, they don’t exactly have all time in the world to record. Dutch explains, “he (Hawl) doesn’t get home until 6pm and then he’s beat. I have a family of four now, so it’s a little tough to get in and start working on stuff without being exhausted because our time’s so limited.” In addition to his work as one half of Workforce, Dutch is also the production half of another duo, Troublemakers, with legendary New York emcee Breez Evahflowin, and he’s the host of the indiefeed hip-hop podcast.

The good news is, after growing up together in Danbury, their friendship initially being a result of the fact that their father’s are close friends, the duo both still live there now and thanks to a recent move by Dutch they’re only about five minutes away from each other, so when inspiration hits they can get right down to work.

Most artists couldn’t hold on to, let alone grow, a fan base over the course of seven years based strictly off of performances, but most artists don’t move a crowd the way Workforce does. The normally soft spoken and reserved Hawl Digg is an absolute animal on stage, sometimes even jumping off of it and performing in the crowd to get people extra hyped. “He’s Mr. Hyde in his everyday life, and when he steps on stage he’s Dr. Jekyll,” Dutch explains, “if you know him you’re just like wow, that is a totally different person.”

Workforce’s next performance will be on March 5th at the Heirloom Arts Theatre in Danbury. There should be plenty of Apples and Sunshine for everyone.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:35 AM  
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