Now I’m in no way an expert on Go-Go by any stretch of the imagination, just a newcomer fan. My knowledge of this music form is elementary at best, and there are just a handful of facts I have learned about Go-Go from D.C. people that I would like to put forward as general knowledge or public opinion:

1. That the Godfather of Go-Go is Chuck Brown

2. That Go-Go spots are sometimes known to be magnets for violence – a guy my age recently told me there has been two times he has been shot at during his lifetime, and both of those were at a Go-Go.

3. Go-Go is often hated on by more northern East Coasters and even some D.C. natives, to the point where there are many clubs in D.C. that preach a distinct no Go-Go policy. Imagine a genre banned from spots in its own city! Some of this is based on number 2.

4. Go-Go is a live music form at the core, so recordings don’t do it justice. All the bootleg live recordings are what keep the scene moving.

5. There is pre-Backyard Band and post Backyard Band Go-Go. The band is supposedly pivotal to the music, but then again maybe this is just what the younger generation says to set itself apart from the 90’s and 80’s (the Golden Age of Go-Go). I did read that they brought Go-Go to a faster pace, called bounce, though.

Backyard Band with Devin the Dude dope jam live in ATL:

I used to front on Go-Go for the sake of jokes and also just for the sake of hating on it, but it’s most definitely an acquired taste and very likeable once you drop that NYC music snobbery. What’s most unique about it and what sets it apart from the more regimented, strict 4/4 beat of NYC, old school to modern day, is the undeniable swing. All the drum hits and congas that fall in between all that space between the kick and snare is what gives Go-Go its catchy ass sound.

The more I listen to Go-Go the more I realize how much it has influenced the emcees I have always listened to and studied. For instance, there’s a classic recorded Mikah 9 (OG Freestyle Fellowship – LA) freestyle where he starts out “Sardines, hey! and pork and beans, hey!” and little did I know it came from this classic Junkyard Band track:

A lot of the music Trouble Funk was putting out way back in the 80’s was simultaneously hyped by hardcore rockers like Henry Rollins and at the same time hugely jacked by NY old school rappers for its sound. Check this Kurtis Blow video…. ‘Go-Go in disguise’.

This old school footage of DC Scorpio, who is one of the first go-go emcees (along with DJ Kool – best known for the classic “Let Me Clear My Throat”), and Soul Searchers (Chuck Brown’s old group) is tight. “Stone Cold Hustler” circa 1987:

Other links:
Backyard Band cover Pac’s “Hail Mary”
Backyard Band “Thong Song” and “Unibomber”
Short History of Go-Go