Chuck Brown, godfather of Go-Go, passed away Wednesday (May 16) from multiple organ failure after a struggle with pneumonia. He was 75 and performed up until just a few months before his death.
A guitar player and vocalist with a unique rasp, the musical pioneer is credited with creating the percussion-heavy, funk, soul and dance genre that has become a culture in its native city of the nation’s capital, has garnered an audience worldwide, and has been may times sampled by Hip-Hop artists.
His first recorded album was delivered in 1972 with the group The Soul Searchers. In 1972, their sophomore effort, Salt of the Earth yielded “Blow Your Whistle,” which was later sampled by Eve for her song “Tambourine;” and “Ashley’s Roachclip,” which was sampled by a myriad of Hip-Hop artists including 2 Live Crew (“Ghetto Bass II”), Eazy-E (“Gimme That Nut”), Erik B & Rakim (“I Know You Got Soul” and “Paid In Full”), Geto Boys (“Scarface”), Ice Cube (“Jackin’ For Beats”), LL Cool J (“Jack the Riper”), Kris Kross (“Methods of Dropping Mental”), Run DMC (“Run’s House”), Lloyd (Girls Around the World” featuring Lil’ Wayne), Nice & Smooth (“Down the Line”) and Scarface (Mr. Scarface Pt. 3”).
In 1978, The Soul Searchers became Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers and the title track from their next album, Bustin’ Loose became #1 on the Billboard chart. It was later sampled by Nelly for his “Hot in Herre.”
Indirectly, his legacy has also influenced songs like Jay-Z’s “Do It Again” (sampling Go-Go band Rare Essence’s “Overnight Scenario,” and who were also featured on the remix of Ludacris’s “Pimpin’ All Over”); Wale’s “Pretty Girls (sampling Backyard Band’s “Girls”); and the appearance of Go-Go band E.U. in Spike Lee’s “School Daze” movie (their song, “Da Butt” topped Billboard’s R&B chart).
However, the union between Hip-Hop and Go-Go was not just about sampling (Go-go bands also famously sample Hip-Hop). Brown’s 2007 song, “Block Party” featured DJ Kool.
In 2010, his single “Love” featuring Jill Scott and Marcus Miller, earned him his first Grammy Award nomination (for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals).
An impromptu vigil was held in Washington, DC Wednesday night on a street recently renamed “Chuck Brown Way.”
–Written By Sia Barnes