Any of us that have lived a bit can testify to the delicate moment of either making it passed an obstacle or allowing it to stop us. We can remember the beginning of the uphill struggle when we thought we’d surely die or fail, and we can fondly recall the lightning-flash-thought that we WILL NOT. For me, Hawdwerk’s “Graveyard Shift” is track after track of pushing passed the surface to finding out who you are, and what you are purposed to do. And it’s the graveyard because it’s the last shift that anyone wants to work. It’s the serious and dangerous duty of the folks who can see in the dark.
“They tell you reach for the skies when you’re a kid, but once you hit a certain age, everything changes. They tell you that those dreams that you have are way to big, figure out how to pay for school on minimum wages.”
“AMEN” is the first track, and off top he critiques things about his past and establishes some present goals that stem from his African beginnings. Although “ART OF ILLUSION” isn’t until the fifth track, I liken it to “Amen”. It’s another personality-establishing tune where Hawdwerk, the scholar, has to separate himself from what he’s learned in school. In “Art of Illusion” we deal with something many of us in our mid-to-late twenties or early thirties are (truly) realizing: that the so-called American Dream is manufactured. It’s not a real goal. That realization is a quaking one. It can shake you up. Hawdwerk addresses that shaken-up state on record with the stabilizing truth that the norm is not serving us anyway.
“Why I feel like just a slave in somebody’s evil scheme, why I gotta give up mine for somebody else’s dream?”
The whole record is an expression of Hawdwerk’s pressing journey–from love issues to health–but we get to hear him flex his lyrical muscles on “WYZEWERKS” (featuring Sean Wyze) and “MASTERMIND”. The intellectually braggadocio tracks cascade with colorful use of language and initiated facts.
“The key is information. The code is in the words, if you speak it you can break it.”
The struggle of the learned emcee during the today’s “hip pop” media takeover is finding creative ways to boast about having common sense. It’s about providing some space for cats to take pride in things attained through experience, rather than relinquishing their manhood to be paid handsomely to be good little boys.
“What’s your assumptions? I’m hear to debunk them. Your ignorance will lead you to your imminent destruction.”
The last two tracks I want to mention are “THE FATHERS” (featuring Yung Miss) and “WERK TO DO”. I want to end the review here to stress the importance of Sankofa: looking to the past to establish foundational purpose and move into and through the future. Had it not been for the providing ethic established by his father and the examples of other men in his life, like the hispanic friend described in “WERK TO DO”, it would be hard to understand the absoluteness in Hawdwerk’s choice in both uniform and universal position. The blue collar, the boots, they say to us every time: This is the job and I am here to do it.
“You had to put a distance, even though you had my back, our relationship was different. Every now and then you would stop by just to kick it and if someone tried to fuck with me, they would have got the business.”
Now, the graveyard shift is that long, late-night work, but it’s also the work that ushers in the light, so I urge you to check out Hawdwerk’s latest and hear the love song “Still Rollin’” which shows appreciation for the simple peace that true love can bring, and if you’re lucky like me, you can get your hands on a hard copy and hear the bonus tracks too.
I gave ya’ll a week, did you check it out? What do you think? Did you see things they way I did? Listen up and talk back!
Find out more about HAWDWERK here:
Love & Water,