THE RISE AND RISE OF WORKING ON DYING

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 In today’s music environment Working On Dying is known as a producer collective on the ascent. Through their work with bonafide stars such as Future, Lil Uzi Vert and Matt Ox, WOD have become a household name. They are positioned to be the next collective crowned ‘super producers’. Before their mainstream takeover, the Philadelphia based collective had been pioneers in the underground world. Their transcendent sound and classic projects with a bevy of underground artists (such as Black Kray and Chxpo) fuelled their underground dominance. Prior to the countless Uzi placements, WOD had established their collective as a ‘cult-like’ movement. Mainstream or underground, Working On Dying are heavy hitters. In this edition of LO-FI: The Magazine we will chronicle the rise and rise of Working On Dying. How exactly did WOD go from producing classics with underground legends to producing for industry superstars? Find out below. 

2012-15: WORKING ON DYING BEGINS

 The Working On Dying collective is made up of F1LTHY, Oogiemane, Forza, Brandon Finessin’, The Loosieman, Gans-3M (AKA WOD Jarek), and YOLA. Producers make up the majority of the clique, whilst Gans and Yola work on other mediums within the crew. Gans’ main focus is the WOD clothing line, despite having produced a handful of tracks for other artists. Whilst YOLA is an artist/ stylist who is best known for his viral renditions of Lil B’s signature ‘cooking dance’. The formation of ‘Working On Dying’ occurred over several months. Their first release was a self titled beat tape which featured production from: F1LTHY, Oogiemane, The Loosieman and Forza. The origin story of WOD dates back to 2012 when F1LTHY first started producing. Inspired by the peak of the underground movement, F1LTHY began to hone his skills on Fruity Loops. F1LTHY then passed on his Fruity Loops proficiency to his younger brother Oogie Mane. Oogie, who went to school with Brandon Finessin’, Forza and Lil Uzi Vert, began to share and compare production tips with Brandon Finessin’. Forza would join Brandon and Oogie on the producing wave about a year later. The Loosieman, who was rapping as Declan? Met F1LTHY and Oogie through their Godbrother Jarek (AKA Gans-3M). The pieces for the Working On Dying recipe were beginning to fall into place. Over the span of a year, the Philly kids had built the foundation for the WOD movement. The term ‘Working On Dying’ was coined by Loosieman after his father tragically passed away. The term, which was created at one of the lowest points imaginable, became the term which galvanized the Philly group. ‘Working On Dying’, though nihilistic by perception, is simply an expression which personifies the lives that we lead. Everyday we are Working On Dying, some more than others. With the group established and the first ‘Working On Dying’ tape released, the Philly collective were ready to spread their wings. The collective had sown their seeds. An in-depth look at their debut tape shows that they had the blueprint right from the beginning. 

 The Loosieman Presents: ‘Working On Dying’ was released in 2014. The tape features instrumental and acapella blends, from the members of what would become known as ‘Working On Dying’. Before the manic ‘Tread’ era, the WOD sound was very sparse. 808s, chops and hi-hats collide with eerie synths reminiscent of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Erik Wøllo. This debut effort gives listeners an insight into the WOD movement at its infancy. WOD instantly differentiated themselves from other producers by blending Gucci Mane verses and TED Talks with their eerie elements. In retrospect, ‘Working On Dying’ was a solid debut effort from the Philadelphia natives. The recipe for success was being concocted. With their movement in its early stages, WOD would begin to earn placements with some of the biggest stars in the underground game. 

 The first notable placements for the WOD crew came in late 2013. Oogie Mane produced multiple tracks for legends Xavier Wulf and Chris Travis. Wulf’s tracks: ‘The Alpha K9’ and ‘Big Wulf’ (off of the To Be Continued EP), featured beats from the prodigious producer. Chris Travis’ tracks: ‘Another Planet’, ‘Night Ryder’ and ‘Free Gucci’ were produced by Oogie. Entering 2014, Oogie had became a producer to watch. Due to his placements with the ‘East Memphis Boyz’. A placement on Lil Uzi Vert’s ‘The Real Uzi’ mixtape, the track ‘Whippin’, furthered Oogie’s emergence on the underground radar. These sporadic placements put Working On Dying on the map. For them to truly prosper a reciprocal relationship had to be established with other collectives. Black Kray, Goth Money and Gwallah Gang (known as Snobmobb at the time) provided this relationship. Together WOD, Gwallah Gang and Goth Money would take the underground scene over. These movements fused together to create a classic era in the underground. 

“‘Working On Dying’, though nihilistic by perception, is simply an expression which personifies the lives that we lead. Everyday we are Working On Dying, some more than others”

The WOD, Goth Money and Gwallah Gang supergroup started off in a rather nondescript manner. F1LTHY produced ‘30 Goth Tearz’ off the Black Kray classic ‘700 Dagreez’. This initial placement can be viewed as the starting point for the WOD, Goth, Gwallah connection. An opportunity to link with Bootychaaain and La Goony Chonga in Philadelphia arose for the WOD crew. Working with Bootychaaain and La Goony Chonga in person allowed WOD to increase their rapport with Gwallah Gang and Goth Money. F1LTHY would produce Bootychaaain’s underground hit ‘On Da Job’ and the majority of the ‘SKRRRICTLY 4 DA SLUTZ EP’. The music Gwallah Gang and WOD created was some of the rawest in the underground at the time. With WOD’s connection to Gwallah Gang and Goth Money solidified, the Philly producers began to garner consistent placements on high-profile underground songs and projects. During the infant stages of the WOD, Gwallah, Goth connection, Working On Dying produced the following songs: ‘Lil Earnhardt’, ‘Count it Up’, ‘Aunty OKAAAY’, ‘Gucci Mane Wrist’, ‘Thousand Rose’, ‘Fuck Da Guwap I Been Rich’, ‘Try Harder’, ‘Digital’, ‘So Daym Hot’, ‘25 Cellphones’, ‘Titanic’, ‘Get Away From Me’, ‘96 Degreez’ and ‘Beauty Pageant Wrist’. Throughout 2014, 2015 and 2016, Working On Dying were producing straight piff for the Gwallah Goth Money Gang. During this period WOD would become more than a typical production collective. WOD would manifest themselves as a full fledged movement during this era. The ‘Tread’ movement ensured WOD was entrenched as an underground powerhouse. 

 Working On Dying had spent 2015 building their platform. Once the crew had gained placements with some of the underground’s top stars, they began to work on a sequel to the initial Working On Dying mixtape. Unlike the first installment, which was merely instrumentals blended with acapellas, ‘Working On Dying Vol.2’ features exclusive songs and beats which were produced by the upstart crew. The tape features tracks from : GrandeMarshall, Lil Zubin, Bootychaaain, Kemet Dank (Dank God), Black Kray, Dizzy Santana and Marcy Mane. This project exemplifies the sound of the WOD family at the time. Ethereal, Tangerine Dream-like soundscapes which were fuelled by hard-hitting 808s and unique synths. ‘Working On Dying Vol.2’ is the perfect insight into the Philly producers early sounds. This project features several classic cuts: ‘Red Cups (Marcy Mane)’, ‘Shyne 4 U (Bootychaaain and Lil Zubin)’, ‘25 Phones (Marcy Mane)’, ‘Prada Walkin (Black Kray)’ and ‘Who Said We Couldn’t do This Together (Bootychaaain)’. The melancholic instrumentals: ‘Labatt Blue’, ‘Valvoline’, ‘Look at me Now’, ‘6 Dolla Ports’ and ‘I Forgive You’ are also essential listens off of the ‘Working On Dying Vol.2’ project. The blend of instrumentals and exclusive songs ensures the tape encompasses the Working On Dying movement. This project is another element which laid the platform for the continued rise of WOD. 

2016-17: THE ‘TREAD’ MOVEMENT EXPLODES   

 At the dawn of the ‘Tread’ wave, Working On Dying had established themselves as underground stalwarts. F1LTHY, Loosieman and Oogie Mane’s producer tags became synonymous with underground classics. The WOD, Gwallah, Goth connection had catapulted them to the forefront of the scene. Working On Dying ensured they would become known as more than producers by transforming WOD into a full fledged brand. By 2015 WOD began selling merch and producing visual content. With a plethora of classics and sought after merchandise, all that was left was to find a term to describe their otherworldly sonic experience. This came to life when Bootychaaain invented the term ‘Tread’. ‘Tread’ encapsulated WOD’s progression from synth heavy ambience into the frenetic, fast-paced mania WOD would become known for. The Tread era would go on to cement the Philly producers as legends in the underground scene. 

 Throughout the ‘Tread’ era, Working On Dying continued its ascension in the music world. Collaborations with: Lil Yachty, CHXPO, 5 Finger Posse, Wifigawd, Pollari, Lucki Ecks and the Goth Money/Gwallah Gang conglomerate elevated WOD’s profile. These groundbreaking collaborations coupled with the progression of their sound into the frenzy now known as ‘Tread’ allowed the group’s profile to grow exponentially. In the early years, F1LTHY, Loosieman and Oogie Mane, were the flag bearers for the flourishing movement. With their own sub-genre established, Brandon Finessin’ and Forza became household names during the ‘Tread’ era. The ‘Tread’ movement brought fans constant classics. The ‘Tread’ era demonstrated how ahead of the curve WOD was at establishing themselves as a brand. A content explosion would occur throughout this timespan. Working On Dying started to host/throw live shows, post vlog style YouTube content, continue rolling out merch and they started a weekly release series known as ‘Tread Tuesdays’. ‘Tread Tuesday’s’ were WOD’s answer to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Friday’s. Every Tuesday F1LTHY and the WOD crew would release new content. Whether it was a new single, a new instrumental or a brand new mixtape. ‘Tread Tuesday’s’ gave their fans consistent content. It kept people in tune with the WOD movement. Working On Dying were taking ownership of their wave. Once they found their niche, they started to flood the internet with content from every medium. Their constant content separated Working On Dying from every other producer or producer collective in the underground at the time. During the ‘Tread’ movement WOD had cultivated and brought to life their own wave. This unique ‘wave’ was fuelled by a group of transcendent collaborative projects. These classic projects ensure the ‘Tread’ era will forever live on in underground lore. 

“The Tread era would go on to cement the Philly producers as legends in the underground scene”

 Over the initial years of the WOD journey, the producers had developed a strong working relationship with Black Kray AKA Sickboyrari. With a litany of classic singles between the two parties, the next step was to work on a collaborative project. Working On Dying would eventually work on two full-length collaborative projects with the legend Black Kray. Two of the best in their respective fields came together to create history. The first tape was a collaboration between F1LTHY and Sickboyrari entitled ‘Shitty Sickboy’. Released in December 2015, Shitty Sickboy shook the underground world to its core. ‘Shitty Sickboy’ is a flawless tape. The transcendent mixtape helped kickstart the ‘Tread’ era. With the newfound ‘Tread’ mentality, the WOD, Goth, Gwallah connection proved to be a match made in heaven. The second full-length project between Working On Dying and Sickboyrari was ‘Working Out Da Mud’. This time, production was handled by the entire WOD family. ‘Working Out Da Mud’ features beats from Brandon Finessin’, Forza, F1LTHY, Gans-3M, Oogie Mane and Loosieman. On ‘Working Out Da Mud’ their ‘Tread’ sound had matured into a frenetic, limit breaking beast. ‘Working Out Da Mud’ is another gem  which cements the ‘Tread’ era’s legacy. ‘Shitty Sickboy’ and ‘Working Out Da Mud’ are essential listens for those looking to experience the ‘Tread’ era. In addition to ‘Shitty Sickboy’ and ‘Working Out Da Mud’, WOD would produce several classics for other underground artists throughout the ‘Tread’ wave.

Gwallah Gang and Working On Dying released a series of classic singles which helped pioneer the ‘Tread’ movement. The singles: ‘Lil Ho’ (Bootychaaain), ‘They On Me’ (Bootychaaain), ‘Gwallah Girlz’ (Bootychaaain), ‘Juice’ (Bootychaaain), ‘Yellow Raincoat’ (Bootychaaain), ‘Numba 1’ (Bootychaaain), ‘Spendin’ (La Goony Chonga), ‘Yo Se’ (La Goony Chonga), ‘Buena Y Guapa’ (La Goony Chonga) and ‘Cash On Me’ (La Goony Chonga) were instrumental in establishing the ‘tread’ wave. These high energy singles display the progression from both the WOD crew and Gwallah Gang from their previous collaboration: ‘SKRRRICTLY 4 DA SLUTZ EP’. The dawn of ‘tread’ illustrated the evolution of Working On Dying and the extended Goth Gwallah family. Through the release of classic projects with Sickboyrari and classic singles with Gwallah Gang, the ‘tread’ movement became established in the underground world. Although we were never blessed with a full ‘tread’ project from Gwallah Gang and Working On Dying, their body of work together signifies the dynamic chemistry these two parties shared. Bootychaaain coined the ‘tread’ term and the Gwallah Gang’s initial ‘tread’ anthems were some of the hardest tracks to spawn from this era.

 The emergence of Chxpo was in sync with WOD transformation into ‘Tread’. Chxpo’s muddy Chief Keef-esque stylings were a perfect fit for the loud, bass driven nature of the ‘Tread’ soundscape. Once Chxpo and WOD linked their dynamic chemistry was on full display. Chxpo would collab with Working On Dying on the following projects: 215+1(Produced by Working On Dying), 9000 Paths Of Madness: Episode 1 (Produced by Oogie Mane), Finessin’ Habits (Produced by Brandon Finessin’) and 9000 Paths of Madness: Episode 2 (Produced by Oogie Mane). These EPs brought another element to the ‘Tread’ movement. The lively connection between Chxpo and WOD produced classic material. With Goth Money and Gwallah Gang, Working On Dying were working with artists who were already established in the underground world. Working with the upstart Chxpo gave WOD a chance to break an artist through to the wider underground scene. The collaborations with Chxpo proved that Working On Dying’s sound was capable of expanding an artist’s fanbase. Chxpo and the WOD workshop spawned several classic songs: Mobb, Houstonlantavegas, Dragon Blood, Bullets Raining, Hashirama and BVNDGXD. These EPs were instrumental in making the ‘Tread’ era special. 

Other artists that WOD worked with on full length projects were: Five Finger Posse and Wifigawd. WOD worked extensively with 5FP on the following mixtapes: Strip Season (Sub9K & Forza), Freeza Burn (5G & Oogie Mane), Horror Block 2k55 (Alvin Abyss & Oogie Mane), Blood Diamondz EP (Sub 9k & Oogie Mane), 1990 Morgue (Morgue, Oogie Mane and Forza), Hood Goth (Yung Mojo & Forza) and Trapped in the Trenches (Five Finger Posse & Working On Dying). Oogie Mane collaborated with Wifigawd on the mixtape ‘Trenches to Riches’. Working On Dying also produced several singles off of other Wifigawd projects. Wifigawd and Five Finger Posse brought the dark punk rock energy to the tread movement. Their youthful exuberance allowed Wifigawd and Five Finger Posse to match the frenetic nature of the ‘Tread’ soundscape. WOD’s work with Wifigawd and Five Finger Posse is some of the rarest music of the ‘Tread’ era. These tapes are essential listens for all ‘Tread’ heads.

“The greatness of the ‘Tread’ era had placed the group of Philly producers on the cusp of the mainstream music industry”

 Working On Dying’s profile rose exponentially throughout the ‘Tread’ era. As their profile rose, so did their opportunities to produce for artists in the underground scene and beyond. The WOD crew produced tracks for: Lucki Ecks (‘Thank God’, ‘Fuck Everybody’, ‘She Love Me’, ‘Options’, ‘Beam Me Up’), Warhol.ss (‘Rondo’, ‘12 Ozs’, ‘Let Me In’), Drain Gang (‘Dead Inside Dark Outside’), Pollari (‘Fishscale’, ‘Jordan Belfort’), Lil Tracy (‘All I Wanna Know’, ‘Gorilla’, ‘Fell Asleep in the Bando’), The Khan (‘Vices’) and Lil Yachty (‘Killa Killa’, ‘Yea’, ‘Follies’). The ‘Tread’ movement produced countless classics. The Working On Dying crew were solidified as some of the hottest producers in the game. F1LTHY, Loosieman, Oogie Mane, Forza and Brandon Finessin always possessed a transcendent sound. Once their transcendent sound became unified under the ‘Tread’ umbrella their dominance began. ‘Tread’ catapulted WOD into being the most sought after producers in the underground. Sitting atop of the underground wasn’t enough for the prodigious producers. They were looking to break down doors in the mainstream scene. The youth from their own city, Philadelphia, would provide them with this opportunity. As the ‘Tread’ era came to a close, a brand new door burst open. 

 F1LTHY discovered Matt Ox after his song ‘Pretty Penny’ went relatively viral on Twitter. Matt Ox, who was 11 years old at the time, immediately linked with F1LTHY and the WOD crew. The two parties began collaborating on music instantly. Their first series of ‘Tread’ collaborations made waves amongst the underground community. Music videos for the songs ‘Michael Myers’, ‘This N That’, ‘Lowkey’, and ‘Climbers’ were released. These music videos put Matt Ox on the radar of the underground fans. His ‘child star’ factor was evident from these initial ‘Tread’ releases. ‘Tread’ made Matt Ox an 11-12 year old phenom. ‘Overwhelming’ made Matt Ox and in turn Working On Dying viral superstars. The fidget-spinner laden video was one of the biggest viral hits of 2017. The Oogie Mane produced hit was nothing short of genius. As ‘Overwhelming’ grew in views by the millions, it was only a matter of time before the music industry became hip to the proficiency of the WOD crew. Matt Ox’s meteoric rise led to a Noisey feature, articles in every mainstream publication and an LA show alongside Chief Keef. As Matt Ox rose, Working on Dying rose with him. The greatness of the ‘Tread’ era had placed the group of Philly producers on the cusp of the mainstream music industry. With a young viral phenom in tow, WOD was poised to infiltrate the industry. What came next was history. 

 The ‘Tread’ era was one of the most impactful waves to touch the underground. It restored the underground feeling in a time period where it was desperately needed. The ‘Tread’ sound brought a brand new energy to often beleaguered underground fans. The limit-breaking, frenetic paced beats of the Working On Dying crew changed the underground forever. Gwallah Gang and Goth Money helped pioneer the ‘Tread’ movement with classic singles and projects. Wifigawd and Five Finger Posse brought the youthful, punk rock energy to the movement. Some of the rap game’s biggest artists blessed ‘Tread’ beats. Matt Ox’s viral hit ensured Working On Dying took the leap to the mainstream. Prices were going up. The world would soon take notice of the greatness that is Working On Dying.

2018: THE MAINSTREAM ASCENSION

‘I’m Upset’ was WOD’s crowning moment. The third single off of Drake’s studio album ‘Scorpion’ was produced by Working On Dying’s own Oogie Mane. From the depths of the underground to the top of the mainstream. Their constant grind and creation of classic projects had paid off. WOD had reached the peak of their profession. They achieved arguably the biggest placement possible in the rap game. Working On Dying had officially arrived on the mainstream scene. The bedroom producer collective, who started out as a group of friends, organically rose to the top of the food chain. After ascending to the mainstream world, Working On Dying ensured they wouldn’t fumble the bag. WOD would begin to gain placements with some of the Rap world’s most proficient artists. An old friend would help them on this new journey. 

 Oogie Mane’s Drake placement sent the WOD movement into the stratosphere. Their ascent into the music industry had finally commenced. The Philly natives would clique up with another Philly talent to create some of the most anticipated music in recent memory. This Philly talent was none other than Lil Uzi Vert. Oogie Mane, Brandon Finessin and Forza’s old schoolmate had come back into the picture. Their relationship had come full circle. At WOD’s studio in North Philly, Uzi has collabed on hundreds of songs with the WOD producers. ‘Sanguine Paradise’ (Produced by Oogie Mane and Brandon Finessin) and That’s a Rack (Produced by Oogie Mane and Nick Mira) were the first official releases from the WOD and Uzi combo. It is assumed that Working On Dying production will be heavily featured on Uzi’s anticipated studio album ‘Eternal Atake’. Unfortunately several of the WOD produced cuts that were intended for Eternal Atake have leaked. These leaks may have lowered the surprise factor of the WOD and Uzi collabs but their presence on Eternal Atake is almost a certainty. The Philly connection is in full effect. After producing for two of the biggest artists in the Rap game, Lil Uzi Vert and Drake, the WOD wave was destined to spread to several other upcoming artists and legends. 

They [Working On Dying] exceeded the notion of producers and did everything in their power to become a movement”

 WOD’s profile was rising in the music industry. As their profile rose, so did their immense production discography. During their industry ascent WOD has worked with a who’s who of artists. Oogie Mane produced the Future and Juice WRLD single ‘WRLD on Drugs’. Oogie has also produced for: Yung Bans, Key!, Robb Banks and Playboi Carti. In terms of placements, Oogie appears to be WOD’s main event. Their shining star. As long as Oogie shines, so does the extended Working On Dying family. WOD also produced a full-length project for the European enigma Bladee. Heading in to 2020, WOD’s progression through the mainstream appears to be solidified. 

 Despite Working On Dying’s ascendance into the mainstream, they have stayed true to their Philly roots. They continued working with and guiding the young phenom Matt Ox. Who released his debut album ‘OX’. ‘OX’ featured several beats from WOD. Contains features from Chief Keef, Valee and Key. Matt Ox’s debut studio effort was well received by fans and critics alike. The release of ‘OX’ was a coming of age for Matt Ox and WOD. The progression from ‘Overwhelming’ to ‘OX’ was colossal. Apart from Matt Ox, WOD have been working closely with other Philly artists. Quadie Diesel and Asaad are frequent collaborators with Working On Dying. The eccentric Quadie and avant-garde Asaad bring different elements to the WOD soundscape. WOD working with these Philly artists shows that WOD are actively trying to put on for their city.  They may be ascending through the mainstream but their sound will never be compromised. Creating classics is still the Working On Dying way.

 How has WOD broken through the ceiling? What dynamic has fuelled this continued success? From the outside looking in, WOD has always had the vision to become something greater than music. Since the inception of ‘Tread’, it’s evident that Working on Dying was hellbent on being a movement in the vein of 808 Mafia rather than being just an ordinary group of producers. Whether it was dropping fire merch, classic tapes, editions of WOD radio, episodes of ‘Tread It Up’ or throwing raw underground shows, WOD ensured their content flooded the internet from every angle. On the come up, WOD covered every base possible. They exceeded the notion of producers and did everything in their power to become a movement. This content overload undoubtedly contributed to their meteoric rise. 

 The dynamic of the group is another reason WOD have risen to the top of the music world. F1LTHY’s willingness to lead behind the scenes and take a back seat in the spotlight has been vital to the group’s success. The early Working On Dying placements were mainly from F1LTHY (often with Loosieman on co-production). Tapes and singles such as : ‘Shitty Sickboy’,  ‘On Da Job’, ‘30 Goth Tearz’ and So Daym Hot’ built the foundation for the ‘Tread’ movement. Oogie Mane, Brandon Finessin and Forza became extremely proficient during the aforementioned ‘Tread’ movement and the mainstream rise. F1LTHY’s selflessness and WOD’s intuitive knowledge to play their roles allowed Working On Dying to become bigger than music. Working On Dying is a true family.

 The rise and rise of Working On Dying is an exemplar of success in the modern music environment. The Philadelphia bred producers progressed from the trenches of the underground to the heights of the mainstream. The ‘Tread’ movement, which was pioneered by WOD, Gwallah Gang and Goth Money established WOD as an upstart movement. Through a tireless work ethic and transcendent sound WOD became the underground’s version of 808 Mafia. Matt Ox’s viral hit allowed WOD to bring their sound to the mainstream world. Working On Dying hasn’t looked back since. Placements with Drake, Future, Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti shows that Working On Dying are in a position to dominate the Rap scene over the next few years. Their star is constantly rising. Whether we like it or not, we are all Working On Dying.

Check out LO-FI: The Magazine’s ‘Working On Dying’ mixes: Volume One, Volume Two

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