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Black History In D.C. Series: GoGo Music

There was no way I was going to be doing a Black History in D.C. Series and not talk about “GoGo Music”. GoGo music is D.C.’s music, when you think of D.C. you think of Gogo. For me growing up in Baltimore, I would always listen to the playful rivalry between Bmore and D.C. our club music vs Gogo was always the topic of discussion. When I came to Catholic University and I would talk to other students about D.C. culture and I would mention GoGo, no one would know what I would be talking about. Sure, my University has students from all over the country but it is shocking to me that when students at my school think of D.C. they only know of: The Capital, Smithsonian Museums, Monuments and Georgetown. Which further proves that D.C. has lost their culture due to gentrification. But this also gave me a great oppurtinity to inform people about GoGo Music and how important it is to D.C.

            There really isn’t one specific person who created GoGo but there was one man who made GoGo music mainstream and put D.C. on the map on the music charts. That man was Chuck Brown. The Godfather of GoGo, Brown’s sound put GoGo music in a new “funk” and “soul” category in the 1970s (and truly if you go to a Black cookout more than likely you are bound to hear his music). GoGo music is heavily influenced by percussion instruments and inspired by Blues, Funk and Salsa music (all music created by Black people, might I add). Why do they call it GoGo? Well, the genre got its name as a slang term from young people where they would call “GoGo’s” as a place young people would go to party.  GoGo music is also known for its call and response. There would be a part in the music where the singer will call out to the audience and the audience will respond back to the singer. For example, in Chuck Brown’s “Wind Me Up” before the song even begins, the audience begins to scream “WIND ME UP CHUCK” and chuck responds saying” I CAN’T HEAR YOU” and the audience repeats themselves multiple times and the song begins. GoGo is the kind of music that never stops it keeps you dancing… LITERALLY. I am not kidding you go to a GoGo party and people will be dancing ALL DAY, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

                                                                                                             Chuck Brown and the Searcher’s Bustin Loose


With GoGo growing its popularity locally and mainstream through the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, many GoGo bands in D.C. started to have friendly rivalries and these bands were lead by teenagers. D.C.’s former mayor, Marion Barry implemented music driven programs in D.C. schools to help these kids became professionals in the GoGo talent circle. Another Big GoGo hit, that I grew up on and one of the few GoGo songs I saw in mainstream movies was “Doin The Butt” by EU. I first heard this song in Spike Lee’s film “School Daze”, and I remember being one of GoGo’s song I really enjoyed. GoGo music played a pinnacle role in D.C.’s Black culture, while Barry was in office and GoGo was on the rise, more jobs and resources were being provided for Black residents. And during the summer time Parks and Recreations centers would give free GoGo shows for the young people. GoGo bands would recreate popular chart songs with GoGo flavor (Which is still seen in GoGo music today).

                                                                                                                                          EU- “Doin Da Butt”                        

                                                                                                     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FShE0VifCYs ​                        

            I remember growing up not really understanding GoGo (because being from Bmore we have always never really liked it like that) but I always admire Black culture no matter where it is. Plus, GoGo really is starting to grow on me, but it is such an important cultural piece in D.C. that no one ever talks about anymore. And I want people to talk about, I want people to learn and understand this important piece of D.C. history.

                                                                                                                                                                   Backyard Band- “Crew”( originally performed by GoldLink, Brent Fiayaz and Shy Glizzy, Who are also from D.C./DMV)                                                                                                                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-drLFlfBmuQ

Source: http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/go-go-washington-dc

A Baltimore girl who is exploring all of what DC has to offer. A lover of food and all things relating to Beyonce.
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