Go-go live : the musical life and death of a chocolate city / Natalie Hopkinson.
LJ Reviews 2012 July #1
Few people outside of Washington, DC, have heard of go-go, the city's homegrown brand of funk, marked by heavy percussion (predominately congas, more recently roto-toms), call and response, and live performance. Hopkinson (contributing editor, The Root; coauthor, with Natalie Y. Moore, Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation) explores the music that poet Thomas Sayers Ellis called the most "radical opposition to English syntax" through the lens of gentrification, which has utterly remade the physical landscape of many DC neighborhoods and erased a black majority that defined the city for half a century. Hopkinson faces a steep challenge: she sets out to pin down a genre that is famously unrecordable and describe a side of DC that is almost entirely invisible. VERDICT She pulls in German philosopher Jürgen Habermas almost as often as she does Nico Hobson, go-go's unofficial archivist, and the book struggles under the weight of a subject that too few have addressed. Still, Hopkinson writes with great, sometimes astonishing, insight, and this is a work that is sorely needed. Recommended for readers interested in gentrification, nongovernmental DC, and the music that animates its culture.—Molly McArdle, Library Journal[Page 84]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2012 April #4
Go-go music and its performers (Chuck Brown, Big G, Anthony "Little Benny" Harley) may have little cachet among a general audience, but Hopkinson, journalist and devotee, makes a persuasive case that "go-go serves as a metaphor for the black urban experience in the second half of the twentieth century." Most deeply rooted in Washington, D.C., the heavily percussive, call-and-response dance music reflects the links between West Africa and the black diaspora, even as its content is centered on contemporary themes. As Hopkinson traces the music's trajectory—particularly the rise and demise of Club U (by day a municipal center, by night a dance club) and of the curatorial entrepreneur Nico Holson—she delineates the divisions between "white federal Washington and black local D.C." epitomized by the destruction of the once vibrant local go-go economy along the U Street, N.W., and H Street, N.E., corridors. Part history of, part elegy for, "the displacement of black communities and a slow death of the Chocolate City," the text is supplemented by a rich photo insert documenting both dance floor and street. Across the world and throughout history, Hopkinson says, "black music has been the primary medium to deliver news." Her assessment of a local phenomenon offers a glimpse of a culture off the mainstream's radar. 34 b&w illus. (June)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC