The Beat: Go-Go's Fusion of Funk and Hip-Hop (Book)

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About the Author:

Kip Lornell is an ethnomusicologist and a professor at George Washington University. He is the author of many books about music in American culture.

Charles C. Stephenson Jr. has lived in Washington, DC since 1970. He was a founder and manager of the Experience Unlimited band, and co-founder beginning in 1971 of DC's Malcolm X Day celebration.

Thomas Sayers Ellis was born and raised in Washington, D.C.and attended Dunbar High School. In 1988 he co-founded The Dark Room Collective, an organization that celebrated and gave greater visibility to emerging and established writers of color. He is a poet, photographer, and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York.


Format: Book-- Trade Paperback, 288pp. 
Label: Billboard Books 
Year: 2001 

By Kip Lornell & Charles C. Stephenson Jr. 
Photographs by Thomas Sayers Ellis 

The Beat! was the first book to explore the musical, social, and cultural phenomenon of go-go music.  Kip Lornell and Charles C. Stephenson, Jr. place go-go within black popular music made since the middle 1970s—a period during which hip-hop has predominated. This styling reflects the District's African American heritage. Its super-charged drumming and vocal combinations of hip-hop, funk, and soul evolved and still thrive on the streets of Washington, DC, and in neighboring Prince George's County, making it the most geographically compact form of popular music. 

Go-go—the only musical form indigenous to Washington, DC—features a highly syncopated, nonstop beat and vocals that are spoken as well as sung. The book chronicles its development and ongoing popularity, focusing on many of its key figures and institutions, including established acts such as Chuck Brown (the Godfather of Go-Go), Experience Unlimited, Rare Essence, and Trouble Funk; well-known DJs, managers, and promoters; and filmmakers who have incorporated it into their work. The Beat! provides longtime fans and those who study American musical forms a definitive look at the music and its makers. 

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