Late Grammy nominee Chuck Brown, photographed here in 2011,  was observed as the Godfather of the Go-Go sound, which dates back to the mid-1960s in D.C.
Late Grammy nominee Chuck Brown, photographed here in 2011, was observed as the Godfather of the Go-Go sound, which dates back to the mid-1960s in D.C.
Photo: Chris Pizzello (Associated Press)

Chuck Brown would be proud.

Chocolate City finally – officially – has its own sound, on the books.

This week, D.C.’s mayor signed a bill making go-go the official music of Washington.

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“Today, we are proud to say that DC’s official music will always be Go-Go, because there is no DC without Go-Go and there is no Go-Go without DC!” Mayor Murial Bowser stated in an official press release. “Go-Go music is a creative force that has inspired generations of Washingtonians socially, culturally, and artistically, and this legislation will empower us to preserve and celebrate our native sound.”

The Go-Go Music of the District of Columbia Designation Act of 2019 was originally introduced by Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and later unanimously passed by the City Council to make Go-Go the official music of Washington, DC.

The legislation calls for the implementation of a program to support and archive Go-Go music and its history in the District.

For years, the District has observed late Grammy nominee Chuck Brown as the Godfather of the Go-Go sound, which dates back to the mid-1960s in D.C.

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Known for his mean guitar skills, Brown collaborated with Ledisi, Jill Scott, Doug E. Fresh, Raheem DeVaughn and Wale throughout his 40-year recording career.

The non-stop percussive bass music blending jazz, soul and other music forms has become a vibrant sub-genre of black music that has a treasure of associated acts, including Rare Essence, The Junkyard Band, Mambo Sauce, DJ Kool who melded hip hop with go-go with the 1996 promo classic “Let Me Clear My Throat” (featuring Biz Markie and Doug E. Fresh)

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Years after Brown topped the R&B charts with his signature track “Bustin Loose” (sampled by Nelly for “Hot In Herre,” in 2002), local group E.U. (Experience Unlimited) helped put Go-Go music on the map with their infectious and unforgettable song “Da Butt”— from Spike Lee’s School Daze in 1988).

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The bill signing comes almost a year after the “Don’t Mute D.C.” movement began.

Longtime DC residents rallied in protest in April 2019 after a Metro PCS store in the historically black Shaw neighborhood was asked to silence the go-go it had been playing from speakers for almost 25 years after new neighbors in a nearby luxury condominium complained about the noise.

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The hashtag #DontMuteDC spread rapidly, prompting the parent company’s CEO John Legere to intervene, saying “the music should not stop in D.C.” and asking the dealer that operated the Shaw Metro PCS to work with neighbors to compromise on the volume of the music.

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“Go-Go is DC’s indigenous musical genre, and I am pleased to have championed the efforts at the Council to designate it as the official music of DC,” McDuffie stated. “I look forward to working with Mayor Bowser and her administration for a thorough and impactful implementation, which will bring the Go-Go community closer to the District’s already strong economy and, in doing so, make our city more equitable and prosperous for all.”

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!

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