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Go-Go Live : The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City

ISBN: 9780822352112 | 0822352117
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Duke Univ Pr
Pub. Date: 6/25/2012

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In the late 1960s and 1970s, the flight of the middle class left majority-black cities in its wake. Products of segregation, Chocolate Cities such as Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Detroit, and Newark, were also hotbeds of African American cultural innovation. Since 2000, the demographic trend has reversed; urban gentrification has led to the decline of the Chocolate City. In Go-Go Live, Natalie Hopkinson recounts the social history of black Washington through its go-go music scene, the cultural manifestation of the Chocolate City. A Washington-area phenomenon born in the mid-1970s, go-go is a form of black popular music distinguished by its beat of conga drums and endless layers of percussion. It is dance party, call-and-response music in which the sounds of New Orleans brass bands and jazz funerals, Caribbean Carnivals, and Nigerian juju music can be heard. Unlike hip-hop, which emerged at the same time, go-go resisted corporate cooptation and commercialization. Washington's go-go culture thrives on an extended network of local, almost exclusively black-owned businesses, which sell locally designed urbanwear, recordings of live performances, and concert tickets. With its D.C.-based fashion, slang, and dance, go-go remains the most visible manifestation of the Washington area's black youth culture, even though gentrification has pushed many blacks out of the capital. Maryland's Prince Georges County is the new hub of the D.C.-area go-go.

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