Go go

Alternate meanings: See Go go (disambiguation)

Go go is a subgenre of funk music developed in and around Washington DC in the mid and late 1970's. While its musical classification, influences and origins are debated, Chuck Brown (b. 1934) is regarded as the fundamental force behind the creation of go-go music.

Go go is defined by continuous, complex, heavy rhythm arrangements focused through two thematic patterns, and variations on those two parts, performed on multiple congas, tumbadoras, and Roto-toms, interspersed with timbale and cowbell parts, driven by heavy-footed drumming and punctuated by crowd "call-and-response."

Some Go go bands have seen varying degrees of success nationally and worldwide, but Washington DC remains the preeminent center for the music.



Brown, a fixture on the Washington music scene with "Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers," (We the People, Ashley's Roachclip) inspired other local bands in the mid-1970s to incorporate go-go music more and more into their standard live shows as his success grew. This included the funk-driven "Trouble Funk" and the rock-influenced "E.U.", who became the most popular bands on the go-go music scene by the end of the 70s. Brown's 1979 hit single Bustin' Loose was the culmination of go-go music's early success. Trouble Funk briefly signed with New Jersey's Sugar Hill Records, where they released the minor hit Pump Me Up. E.U. scored a national hit when they performed their song "Da Butt" in the motion picture "School Daze" in 1988.

The next generation of go-go featured "The Junk Yard Band" and "Rare Essence", two enduring bands that gained popularity after go-go had become established. The Junk Yard Band began as a group of children as young as nine years old, that performed music on a hodge-podge of discarded items fashioned into musical instruments. They signed and toured with New York's Def Jam Records, where they released 12-inch single The Word. Rare Essence, who was mentored musically as youths by Chuck Brown, signed briefly with Mercury Records, but both bands' prominence were primarily established in and around Washington and the mid-atlantic area.

Many of these bands still perform today, along with successive generations of bands like "Backyard Band" and others.

Popular go-go Bands and songs

1st generation

  • Chuck Brown (Bustin Loose, That'll Work, Money)
  • E.U. (Da Butt, EU Freeze, Future Funk)
  • Trouble Funk (Pump Me Up, Drop the Bomb, E Flat Boogie)

2nd generation

  • Rare Essence (Lock It, Work the Walls, Body Moves)
  • Junk Yard Band (Sardines, Rough it Off, Go Hard)

3rd generation

  • Backyard Band (91 Dope Jam, Skillet)
  • Northeast Groovers (The Rumble, Off the Muscle)

Other bands of the past and present

Ayre Rayde, D.C. Scorpio, Fat Rodney, Iceberg Slim, Class Band, Little Benny & the Masters, Mass Extension, Northwest Youngins, OP Tribe, Pleasure, Pump Blenders, Proper Utensils, Pure Elegance, Petworth, Raw Image, Redds & the Boys, TCB, The Young Caucasians,UCB.

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