(Photo by praschl)
Today we're talking go-go. Boiled down to it's essence, it's an extrapolation and extension of the funk jams of the 70's, and none were better at it than Trouble Funk. Also, for the record, great name. Trouble... funk. Troublefunk. Ace. Anyway, today's track is one of Trouble Funk's better hits, Pump Me Up, released at the height of go-go on Sugar Hill Records, then obviously famous for the proto-hip hop of Sugar Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash.
According to Wikipedia, "Go-go is defined by continuous, complex, heavy rhythm arrangements focused through two motifs performed on multiple congas, tumbadoras, and rototoms, interspersed with timbale and cowbell parts, driven by heavy-footed drumming and punctuated by crowd call-and-response. A swing rhythm is often implied (if not explicitly stated)." So, we're talking synth drums people. On Pump Me Up, there's a discernably denser sound than what we've looked at so far, with a dead funky, and very active, bass-line, and all sorts of percussion. The vocals are pretty much consistent with the label's rap style, although there's a more vintage-funk flavour in parts.
Go-go was at it's best in the live arena, and Trouble Funk were known for stringing out a single song into an entire two-hour live show. The genre's pioneer, Chuck Brown (of Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers) was both an instigator and proponent of this, and still continues today. It was very much a Washington DC-based phenomenon, which is where Brown still is, although Trouble Funk are no longer a going concern (as far as I can tell).
Trouble Funk - Pump Me Up
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Tags: hip hop; rap; go-go; Trouble Funk; Pump Me Up; Chuck Brown; Washington DC