I was born and raised in Baltimore. I was also raised, musically, in a bubble. As eclectic as my mom was, musically, there were some genres she didn’t rock with in the house too much. Because of this, even with its somewhat funk roots, I saw go-go as “pots and pans” music because of its live instrumentation, live feeling (even down to some tracks not having “studio magic”), and rally songs. It felt somewhat foreign to me.
Please forgive my ignorance, folks. I grew up mostly on Rod Lee, K-Swift, Miss Tony, and other instrumental forces in Baltimore Club and the Baltimore hip-hop scene in terms of regional (read: DMV-based) music. As unique as my mom’s tastes were, I didn’t make the venture to “the other side” until I heard R.E.’s “Overnight Scenario” about twenty years ago as a kid.
So, I began to do my research. What I found was astonishing in its own right. Just as Baltimore Club found its origins in Chicago House and other forms of house music, I found that go-go–the “Overnight Scenarios,” the “Sexy Ladies,” the “The Butts,” the “Roll Calls” and so on–seemingly all originated from the blood, sweat, and tears of one man.
I, being the researcher I am, knew that Brown’s jams had been sampled in songs such as Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.” I knew that “Ashley’s Roachclip” was one of the most-sampled tracks of all-time. But, until that fateful day in 2006, I’d never heard a lot of the source material.
Five years after his death, I’m here writing this piece jamming to some Chuck Brown with some other go-go, old-school and newer-school mixed in. While I’ll never be a megafan for the genre like some of my contemporaries, Chuck Brown introduced me to something that was real, that feels organic and natural. And for that, I thank you, Mr. Brown. May you rest in piece.
Last, but not least, be sure to check out Chuck Brown’s music for yourself if you’ve never experienced it (and even if you have, pay homage to the man). Your earholes will thank me later.