Premiere: Shad Laments "Work" (or Lack Thereof) on New Track

Shad raps about the precarity of work on his new single, which taps into job hunting, hustle culture, and the endless cycle of being on the grind.

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Juno-winning rapper Shad is back with his latest single “Work” featuring producer and DJ Skratch Bastid.

The heavy-hitting song is a follow up to his previous track “Out of Touch,” which dropped in April. It uses a striking sample from former Vancouver rock band We Are The City’s “WHEN I DREAM, I DREAM OF YOU.” 

On the track, Shad laments the daily hustle of job hunting, and the taxing exhaustion of being on the grind. “Talk is cheap, I should know/Given that I rap for what I eat,” he spits. Digging deep into the politics of labour and hustle culture, he ponders the endless cycle of work, noting that he can sleep when he’s dead. Although the lyrics hit close to home for many people who have experienced job losses since COVID-19 swept the globe, the song was actually written before the pandemic began. Sadly, Shad tells Complex, it’s even more timely now.

“I knew I wanted to write a song specifically about two aspects of work: One, the way so many of our jobs are disconnected from a sense of meaning and purpose, and from the people and places they impact. And two, just the increasing precarity and scarcity of work,” he explains. “Also as with ‘Out of Touch,’ I wanted the song to hold both the irony/humour and heaviness of our situation.”

Tapping into his humour is what pulls the track up from being too dark, and also gives him the space to offer up some commentary on everyday problems. One striking verse touches on the gentrification of fashion, ripping into the how those in poverty can’t afford to look poor anymore. It’s not the first time the rapper has referenced the perils of financial inequality, as it was one of the persistent themes on his 2018 Polaris-shortlisted album A Short Story About a War.

Currently, Shad hosts the docuseries Hip-Hop Evolution, and he has more new music dropping later this year.

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