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Crank Shaped Notes

From: American Studies
Volume 52, Number 4, 2013
pp. 235-244 | 10.1353/ams.2013.0112

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Like a y-shaped birthmark, Like an answer to a question (not a question), the Potomac River is the eldest citizen in Washington and, like a dead library, only it holds the secret to “why” the damn Power keeps going out!

I am tired of the hyphen. It makes Go-Go stutter.

Hip Hop breaks studio-dawn all night long while GoGo per cuss suns till the lights come on.

The good “pee you ess ess why” that the pocket feels like, a tablespoon of in-womb groove, body-snatching any bodies.

We must not let our inability to identify the stages of Cultural Revolution into tricking us into a belief that GoGo is non political and not a Resistance Movement. The beat (groove, bucket or bounce) is bad and means something, something that hits harder than a lyric, something built from the bottom of us, Up!

How to strengthen the ripped lining between da old hands and da young feet: Gimme the bridge now. Gimme the bridgeGimme the bridge now. Gimme the bridge Gimme the bridge now now. Gimme the bridge. Gimme the bridge now. Gimme the bridgeGimme the bridge now! Gimme the bridge now! Gimme the bridge. Gimme the bridge. Gimme the bridge now!

If you really come to boogie, you ain’t afraid to whip it in or out of an ugly anvil case and touch yourself with it.

A foot and a sock to lock a kick and a key in the wallet. Keep your wallets in the pocket and the nickels, dimes and quarters in the socket. Roto-feets and roto-beats to (un)lock a snare and a pedal in the bounce.

Short rolls in the groove and long rolls to finish the groove but the best way to knock a bama (who aint in the band) off the stage is with the base of mic stand. That’s that fuss. It was us!

There is nothing more “Grown and Sexy” than a woman, mother or daughter, who can Per Cuss, Son, so on this Father’s Day we salute Black Pleasure and Pleasure (the first all-female GoGo band) because the best definition of the Brotha is still the Sista, and the best definition of the Sista is still the Brotha.

To refer to (and to have known) the late Chuck Brown as “Pops” suggests a certain familiarity and a certain understanding and respect for a shared intimacy with the Godfather of GoGo. He was not “Pops” to everyone, especially not now. There was “Chuck Brown” (known locally and nationally). There was “Chuck” (for D.C. not Washington). There was “Chuck Baby” (onstage without any give a f#@k). There was “the Godfather of GoGo” (to everyone). There was “Pops” (to young insiders/musicians who earned the privilege by playing with him or on the DC GoGo scene and by living inside his sound and being nurtured by it). There was also “Dad” and I even heard his wife call him “baby” several times while I was photographing him in 2007. I called him Chuck and Mr. Brown because I knew my station and played my position with respect even though he once said to me at sound check, “Call me Pops, that’s what most young gentlemen who I raised call me!”

The Golden Age of GoGo couldn’t wait to grow up and move out of D.C. into a national home but Good to Go was the wrong move. GoGo should have read the script and resisted it, percussively. Speaking of percussive resistance, maybe movement––not violence––killed GoGo’s chance of owning its own home (at home) and becoming a real Movement of the People. GoGo say it heard violence say, “I was too busy dancing” and GoGo say it heard dancing say, “I was too busy fighting.”

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Divaz Inc. Yard Party, TSE 2008

So what if you can’t read “their” music in “their” way; they can’t play “your” pocket in “your” way. Everyone is illiterate when they are away from home but literate inside of themselves. Music comes from within. It is not an external act of dictation. It ain’t signs...

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