Along with Masters at Work partner "Little" Louie Vega, Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez was one of the biggest figures in house music, and one of the prime connections between the underground and the mainstream. Together, Gonzalez and Vega produced and remixed an endless list of tracks that made an indelible impact upon dance music. With salsa, disco, and house acting as the primary common specialties the two shared, Gonzalez brought his immersion in rap music to the table, while Vega came from a freestyle angle. The duo helmed full-length albums, including some under the Masters at Work name, in addition to one with their ambitious Nuyorican Soul project. Apart from MAW, Gonzalez scored a huge crossover hit with the 1995 single "The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)," released under his disco-house alias the Bucketheads. He's released numerous 12"s of breakbeats and rhythm tracks, as well as compilations and mix CDs dedicated to all of his myriad influences, particularly hip-hop (1998's Hip Hop Forever), disco (1992's Disco Heat), and '80s boogie (Roller Boogie 80's, 2004).
Like Vega, the Brooklyn-born Gonzalez was prolific on his own before and during the partnership, and started out as a DJ. In the '80s, Gonzalez founded the Dope Wax label while doing production for several New York dance labels, including Big Beat, Cutting, Nervous, and Strictly Rhythm (home to his releases as the Untouchables). Masters at Work actually began around this time, originating as a partnership between Gonzalez and Mike Delgado; the two organized parties under the name. A few years after Gonzalez aligned himself with Vega, he established the Bucketheads, a studio project that released a string of extremely successful singles and a full-length. Both "The Bomb" and "Got Myself Together" topped Billboard's U.S. club chart, and appeared on 1995's All in the Mind full-length.
Gonzalez released several solo productions under his own name throughout the early 2000s, through the Tu Chicks, Freeze, and TNT labels. His skills as a DJ were demonstrated with a pair of impressive releases for the U.K.'s BBE label, too: 1998's Hip Hop Forever was a triple-disc set, including an early-'90s-centric mix on one disc and the selections in full on the other two. The similarly formatted Disco Heat came four years later, and focused on underground disco and house classics from the late '70s. Throughout the remainder of the decade, he was a go-to DJ for quality mix albums. His highlights included Roller Boogie 80's (Traffic, 2004), Life:Styles (Harmless, 2004), Randy Muller's Best (Plaza, 2005), Choice: A Collection of Classics (Azuli, 2006), and Mixes P&P Records (P&P, 2007).
Along with Terry Hunter, Gonzalez formed Mass Destruction; their eponymous 2009 full-length included guest vocals by Byron Stingily and Lidell Townsell. 2010 compilation House Masters compiled two discs' worth of production and remix highlights from throughout Gonzalez's career. In 2011, he produced rapper Rasheed Chappell's album Future Before Nostalgia, released by Kay-Dee Records, the label Gonzalez co-founded with fellow cratedigger Keb Darge. The label also released Wild Style Breakbeats, a 2014 set consisting of Gonzalez' edits of breakbeats featured in the classic old-school hip-hop film Wild Style, spread across seven 7" singles. The producer continued releasing house singles on his own Dope Wax imprint, and returned to Strictly Rhythm with 2017 single "Talk Dirty," featuring vocalist Roland Clark. ~ Andy Kellman