Backyard began a new style of go-go where they would take popular rap songs and hook them up with a phat go-go beat. This new style is what most young bands use today The Dope Jam became an annual thing of the '90s. Every year from 1993 until the present Backyard fans anxiously await the new Dope Jam every year. In '93 it was Killas in Da Park, '96 -- It's 1996! (Kill em All), '97 -- Drop Da Unibomba, '98 -- Tear Da Club Up! Back has played in North Carolina, Virginia, Atlanta (Freaknic) and all over the D.C.
area. You can see them live five days a week at various clubs in D.C. They are also known to rock any high school who can afford them. Back introduced us to a more hardcore style of go-go that continues to keep young go-go fans partying til the break of dawn at every show. Ignore the bad publicity they get because not only is it false but its just another attempt at destroying go-go as a whole.
With the help of their lead rapper & superstar go-go figure, Big G (graduate of Wilson HS), Backyard will be "tearing da club up" til 2000 and beyond. P. Diddy (or Puffy as he is still called) came to DC on Thursday, October 25 to record a live go-go remix of and to shoot a video for his latest single "Diddy." This, coupled with the recent article on go-go in Vibe, inevitably has everyone wondering if go-go’s time to go national has finally come. Can this P. Diddy collaboration do what "Da Butt," failed to do? What will it take for go-go music to achieve national prominence? Hip-Hop/Go-Go collaborations are nothing new.
Kurtis Blow, Salt N Pepa, Doug E. Fresh, and Redman have all worked with go-go acts. But, this was going to be different because Puffy wanted most of the go-go "All Stars" involved. When I first heard of the collaboration—one week before it took place—word was that Chuck Brown, Sugar Bear, Jas Funk, Ju-Ju, Go-Go Mickey, Lil’ Benny, Genghis, plus Whiteboy and other members of Rare Essence were going to be involved.
By the time it actually happened, there was only Sugar Bear, Lil’ Benny, Genghis, and Suttle Thoughts featuring Gene Pratt. Still not a shabby line-up. When asked if he thought that this project would help boost go-go to a national level Pratt said, "Only if he [Puffy] can acknowledge the fact the fact that we remixed and rearranged the music." Genghis feels that this, like the Vibe article, will open doors. Coop, Backyard’s manager, on the other hand, is taking a wait-and-see approach, "We already know that DC is gonna love it.
We have to wait and see if the hip-hop side likes it." Both Pratt and Genghis feel that Puffy showed a lot of respect for all of the go-go musicians involved and clearly has a love for the music. "That nigga is like that," Pratt said. "He works hard and has a lot of ideas and he blended in like a true go-go head." Pratt said that Puffy told them to do their thing and that he would just blend in with them. "He knew when to say stuff, when the pocket drops.
He was a natural. He felt it." "He’s a real showman," Genghis adds. "He showed a lot of poise and real showmanship." Suttle Thoughts opened the show with their signature song "Gangsta Lean." Legions of ST fans who flock to see them on Thursday and Friday nights know that the band always cranks, but on this night they were at the top of their game. Pratt, along with band mates Shorty, and Michelle shared lead vocals on the R&B classic "Let’s Stay Together," singing the chorus in exquisite harmony, and clearly enjoying themselves in the process.
"We put our all into this," Pratt said. Later Genghis, Sugar Bear, and Lil Benny joined ST on stage for some free-style rapping and chanting, followed by Puffy and Black Rob and an impromptu free-style by DJ Kool, who was in the audience. But, the crowd was losing interest until Genghis hit his band Backyard’s song, "The Dippa." "I had to step up to the bat and represent for my whole band, as well as for my city," Genghis states. "They may not have been there on stage with me, but they were with me in spirit." Of all of the performances, it was Genghis’ that impressed Puffy most.
This collaboration was different, too, because not only is Puffy a successful hip-hop artist, but he’s also a producer who owns his own record label. He has the power and the ability to expose go-go to a much wider fan base. Many feel that is going to take a younger band like Backyard—the Bad Boys of Go-Go—to take go-go to a national level. DJ Kool, whose song "Let me Clear my Throat" was a major hit, feels that go-go can go national if handled properly from a business aspect.
Kool, who still DJ’s, says that he will do anything he can to open doors for go-go acts. While Kool has taken go-go records with him wherever he has worked as a DJ, he says that bands need to put out more songs on vinyl so that DJ’s can break them in the clubs. Finally, Kool says that bands need to record formatted, original songs with an intro., verses and a hook. "People need something they can sing along with." One example of this is the 911 song "Brown and White," a go-go song that got frequent airplay outside of the go-go formatted radio shows.
Even non go-go fans know and sing along to words "…All the brown and all the white, Sunday night at Tradewinds…" How many times have you found yourself singing a song that you didn’t really like, just because the hook was so catchy and stayed in your head? Marguerite Rice, who used to manage the all-female go-go band Precise, and who now works with Backyard feels that go-go doesn’t get any respect in DC. "They pay all this money for rappers to come in using tracks, but go-go uses real, live musicians. They can play their instruments. They’re musicians and performers.
They’ll take a rapper saying ‘F the Police,’ and calling women bitches, but in our own city, it’s almost like they are scared of our music. With any act that comes into the city, a local group should always be on the show." One well-known go-go performer, who didn’t wish to be identified, agrees with Rice that shows that feature national acts should also showcase local talent. This, however, is often a problem because the local acts, particularly go-go bands, often overshadow the well-known acts. Some of the country’s biggest hip-hop acts have been booed in DC including rappers Trina and the late Notorious B.I.G., and female singing group Total.
This leads the above mentioned performer to believe that many artists who come to DC perform have clauses put in their contracts that prohibit go-go bands from sharing the same bill. He also went on to point out that he believes many radio personalities and music directors accept bribes from record companies to put a particular song in heavy rotation. Bribes that go-go acts can’t afford to pay, and bribes that limit the space available for go-go records to be played on the radio. David Honig, an attorney, who is Executive Director of the Minority Multimedia Telecommunications Council, defines "payola," and it’s "related cousin plugola" as receiving payment (or something of value) to play a certain song without stating over the air that payment was received.
Illegal, this was really prevalent some 30 years ago. The song being plugged may not have necessarily been something terrible, but something that may not have otherwise received airplay. "Then the most popular forms of payment were cash, drugs or access to women. Today payment is likely to be in the form of ‘soft payola.’ " An example of soft payola would be if a record company executive came to town and arranged for a DJ or station manager to receive front-row tickets to a basketball game, without the executive revealing that he had an upcoming project.
A month or so later, when the project is released, the DJ or station manager might remember the executive’s generosity and put the song in heavy rotation. Honig went on to state that the station’s desire to reach a particular demographic, in order to attract particular advertisers, usually determines what goes on their play list. Go-go he says, doesn’t always fit easily into the station’s song list. It seems ironic that go-go music does not hold a prominent place on most stations’ play list here in DC where go-go was born, except on shows that are dedicated to go-go.
While Honig agrees that it could help if go-go bands encouraged their fans to call the stations to request their songs, he said that the top ten request usually result from hundreds of calls and that when a listener does not hear his go-go request played on the radio, it’s easier for him to just get a tape and "pop it into his tape deck." Singer Jill Scott told WPGC’s Donnie Simpson that DC blew up her go-go tinged song, "its Love," before she even released it as a single. DJ Kool feels that local stations could have just as easily pumped the Rare Essence remake of Sade’s "No Ordinary Love." But, many go-go fans feel that if bands record a song with the goal of receiving heavy radio play, then the result will be a "watered down" go-go song; that the live energy of go-go won’t be captured in a studio song. Kool feels that the answer to this is to make the song formatted, but to record it live in the studio, thus delivering a song that has a hook that you can sing along to, and one that keeps the live feel that go-go audiences love so much. Because they were highlighted in the Vibe article, many feel that The Back Yard Band—in the studio working on their next album, Hood Related, II—will be the next band given the chance to take go-go national.
Coop promises that this album is going to be full of original music and formatted songs. He said that Back Yard hopes to shoot a video for "The Dippa," so that people all over the country can see how people party and dance in DC. As front man for the band, Genghis is often the target of critics. Asked to respond to those who say he has no flow and can’t rap as well as band mate Los, Genghis says that while Los may be a better rapper lyrically, that he has learned from Los over the years.
"To all you haters who said that I can’t rap, yes, Los is a better rapper as far as flow ability, but I can free-style. Anybody can sit down and write a rap, but I can make one up of the top of my head. I can rap about what a person has on, what the ladies are doing, what’s going on at the bar. I got some other things coming up that will make the city proud of me and make the haters hate me even more." Genghis went on to proclaim that Back Yard has has "more in store.
Something that will blow the city out of the water." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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