This is the late, great Chuck Brown, fondly known as the “Godfather of Go-Go,” Washington, D.C.’s born-and-bred sound of the city.
Brown died one year ago today at the age of 75, from complications due to pneumonia. To say that Brown crafted the sound that became D.C.’s heartbeat is hardly an understatement.
Go-go is an offshoot of funk, mixed with elements of hip hop, R&B, and blues, and is defined by its communal energy during live shows with call-and-response from the crowd. It’s syncopated beat makes dancing unavoidable, and it’s hard to walk around D.C. without hearing it blasting from someone’s car.
Though certain songs (like E.U.’s “Da Butt,” which was featured in Spike Lee’s School Daze, and some of Brown’s hits) have made it to the mainstream charts, go-go has been a genre that’s mostly been contained to the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area.
It’s time others felt the joy of the funkiest genre around!
If you’re looking to dip your toes into the go-go scene (or even if you’re already a fan), Chuck’s the place to start:
1. Chuck Brown, Go-Go Swing Medley
2. Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers, “Bustin’ Loose”
3. Chuck Brown, “Wind Me Up”
4. Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers, “Day-O”
After you’ve gotten the foundation, you should check out these other classic go-go jams:
5. Experience Unlimited (E.U.), “Da Butt”
6. Rare Essence, “Pieces of Me”
7. UCB, “Sexy Lady”
8. Backyard Band, “Pretty Girls”
9. Junk Yard Band, “Loose Booty”
10. DJ Flexx, “The Water Dance”
“THIS is such a banger. I remember working in a bar and the Friday night DJ always dropped it at like 2 am. The floor would start to bounce, bamas would be gettin down so hard.” — John Stanton, BuzzFeed Washington Bureau Chief.
11. E.U., “Freeze”
You might have heard part of it in Wale’s version of “Bait,” featuring TCB.
12. Junk Yard Band, “Uh Oh”
13. E.U., “Still Smoking” and “Drop the Bomb”
14. Little Benny, “Cat In the Hat”
15. TCB, “Pacman Poppin”
16. Be’la Dona, Medley: “Wish,” “Freaky Deak,” “Pump It,” “Lock It”
The First Ladies of Go-Go.
17. Be’la Dona with Donnell Floyd
Here they are again, with Donnell Floyd of Rare Essence.
18. Pleasure, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
19. Northeast Groovers Band, “Pocket”
20. Wale, featuring UCB, Bun B, and Pusha-T, “Back to the Go-Go”
While you’re at it, check out Wale’s excellent “Ice Cream Girls,” featuring TCB.
You might not realize it, but chances are that you’ve already heard some go-go before. Lots of artists outside of go-go have incorporated elements of the genre into their songs:
21. The Roots, featuring Wale and Chrisette Michele, “Rising Up”
22. Salt ‘N Pepa, “My Mic Sounds Nice”
23. Run-D.M.C., “Is It Live”
24. Heavy D & The Boyz, “Mr Big. Stuff (Remix)”
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