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Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City Paperback – May 22, 2012


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Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City + The Beat: Go-Go Music from Washington, D.C. (American Made Music)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822352117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822352112
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #886,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

Hopkinson's book is part requiem for a culture that she sees being cast aside by a changing DC, and part appreciation of its unlikely survival and evolution. Her interviewees are full of rich stories. —Mike Madden

Review

"Go-Go Live is a terrific and important piece of work. Music, race, and the city are three key pivot points of our society, and Natalie Hopkinson pulls them together in a unique and powerful way. I have long adored Washington, D.C.'s go-go music. This book helped me understand the history of the city and the ways that it reflects the whole experience of race and culture in our society. It puts music front and center in the analysis of our urban experience, something which has been too long in coming."—Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto


"Black Washington, D.C., has a famously rich history and culture. Natalie Hopkinson has an established reputation as one of the most sophisticated commentators on contemporary black culture in the capital city. Go-Go Live is not only a fascinating account of a musical culture, but also a social and cultural history of black Washington in the post–civil rights era."—Mark Anthony Neal, author of New Black Man


"Natalie Hopkinson knows the music, the heartbeat, and the people of Washington well, but Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City is much more than a book about D.C.'s indigenous sound. It is a vital, lively, and ultimately inspiring look at the evolution of an American city."—George Pelecanos

"Natalie Hopkinson's Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City demonstrates the essential connections between culture and community in an American city. For generations now, go-go music in Washington D.C. has not only given the authentic, nonfederal parts of that city its musical milestones, but it has—in the voice of so many great lead talkers—marked the civic and political time. From Chuck Brown forward, go-go has proven resilient and real. They say you can't understand this music unless you are there in the club, in the moment, but this book comes close."—David Simon, creator of the television series The Wire and Treme


"Taking us into the little-studied terrain of go-go, the cousin of hip-hop born and bred in Washington, D.C.¸ Natalie Hopkinson reveals go-go as a lens for seeing, in stark colors, how the economy, politics, and especially the drug trade have traduced black communities around the world."—Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University


“. . . Go-Go Live is a good read for DC residents and music lovers in general - if for no other reason than its subject matter. In the 40 year history of go-go music this is only the second book ever written about the genre. The first being the seminal The Beat by Charles Stephenson and Kip Lornell. Hopefully books like The Beat and Go-Go Live will inspire the next generation of go-go fans to record and document their own experiences about their city and its amazing indigenous music.”
(Sidney Thomas DC Examiner)

Go-Go Live is a compelling, methodologically bold ethnographic history of a city and artistic form that have both received too little scholarly attention. And in the wake of Chuck Brown’s death, its content and style can be appreciated by academics and go-go fans alike.”
(Antonio Ramirez History News Network)

“[I]t’s a shame that [Chuck] Brown wasn’t around to read the love, knowledge and understanding go-go, and black D.C. by extension, receive in Natalie Hopkinson’s Go-Go Live. . . . As Hopkinson makes clear, the life of urban black America involves issues that are far larger than music, but music is how black folk often work through them.”
(Mark Reynolds PopMatters)

“Hopkinson shows the strength of the Black community in the eyes of its eventual displacement. Go-Go Live isn’t just the history of a genre of Black music; it’s the history of Black people in a certain region of America. It’s the history of Black America itself.”
(Stephon Johnson Amsterdam News)

“Hopkinson's book is part requiem for a culture that she sees being cast aside by a changing DC, and part appreciation of its unlikely survival and evolution. Her interviewees are full of rich stories. . . .”
(Mike Madden Bookforum)

“With the election of Barack Obama and the return of the white middle class to the urban core, Hopkinson’s beloved Chocolate City and the music it spawned may be a thing of the past. Go-Go Live is thus not just a work of scholarship but an eloquent piece of cultural partisanship, an elegy, a counter-narrative, a love letter.”
(Michael Lindgren Washington Post)

“[A] fascinating new book about go-go, D.C., and race in urban America. . . . Hopkinson’s book is also a plaint of ambivalent hopefulness that this post-Chocolate City, Barack Obama-era Washington, D.C., can begin to overcome that separate-and-unequal racial division still at the heart of America.”
(Michael Corbin Baltimore City Paper)

“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)

“No written work could fully capture the excitement of go-go culture, but Hopkinson comes close. . . . Go-Go Live provides a loving profile of this unique musical culture. By tying go-go to the tumultuous history of one of the US’s most important cities, Hopkinson’s work will undoubtedly become an important resource to students of music, race, and US history.”
(Charles L. Hughes Popular Music and Society)

“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. . . . Her assessment of a local phenomenon offers a glimpse of a culture off the mainstream’s radar.”
(Publishers Weekly)

"Natalie Hopkinson's Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City demonstrates the essential connections between culture and community in an American city. For generations now, go-go music in Washington D.C. has not only given the authentic, nonfederal parts of that city its musical milestones, but it has—in the voice of so many great lead talkers—marked the civic and political time. From Chuck Brown forward, go-go has proven resilient and real. They say you can't understand this music unless you are there in the club, in the moment, but this book comes close."
(David Simon, creator of the television series The Wire and Treme)

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Customer Reviews

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I purchased it as a gift and he is truly a go-go fan.
carla
I was especially excited to hear that Ms. Hopkinson is a fellow Howard Univ. graduate.
Doug
Too bad the book and its author are both total jokes.
John Wraith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Doug on June 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I learned of this book while listening to a radio interview with the author, Natalie Hopkinson, soon after the death of Chuck Brown. I was especially excited to hear that Ms. Hopkinson is a fellow Howard Univ. graduate. I was exposed to go-go music while a student at Howard Univ. during the early 1980's through a housemate who was a DC native. I ordered two copies of this book before it was released - one for myself and one for my college friend, John G. It was John G (his go-go name) who took me to go-go clubs to see and hear Rare Essence, Trouble Funk and Redds and the Boys. It was at one of those go-go parties that John G arranged for my name to be shouted out by the lead talker who I can still hear say "I'm gonna pull out the spotlight y'all. Gonna put Big D on display." With my personal experiences and appreciation for go-go, I impatiently waited for the book(s) to arrive.

The book finally arrived and I started reading expecting that the book would in some way chronicle my own go-go experiences. It did not take long to determine that the book is less about go-go and more about the idea that DC is dying or dead as a Chocolate City. While go-go is certainly DC and DC is not DC without go-go, I was not convinced of a link between go-go and the so-called death of the Chocolate City DC.

There are numerous references to ethnographic and sociological studies and theories and, in places, this book reads like one of them. That DC, or black DC, had/has its own (sub)culture, complete with its own form of music, was obvious to many Howard Univ. students, especially those who lived off-campus in the neighborhoods of DC. With respect to its go-go music tradition, DC is a sort of Galapagos.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Wraith on May 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came of age inside the Beltway in the mid-90s, so go-go was the pulse of my teenage years. People who aren't from there are generally shocked when I mention that all the radio played on Friday and Saturday nights was a form of music that they've never heard of. So I was excited to see a book that adds to the skimpy amount of critical literature on the heartbeat of DC.

Too bad the book and its author are both total jokes. First off, this book is far more a collection of newspaper articles than a cohesive narrative. And they're not very good articles either, in terms of writing ability (bland) and content (preposterous). For example, she inexplicably spends a chapter in this already rather meager volume on religious go-go, which is probably not as important as, say, a sketchbook history of the genre. So she profiles an ex-stripper and pimp who run some bama go-go after they've found Jesus for two weeks, yet she seems oblivious to the existence of seminal figures like the Northeast Groovers and Junkyard Band, who get a couple of mentions in passing. I honestly don't think she's aware of anything iconic or seminal in the music itself. It's like hearing a middle-aged high school principal try to explain hip-hop culture or something.

Which is probably the book's biggest flaw: Hopkinson doesn't really understand the music she proclaims to be protective of. She grew up in Indiana or someplace in cow country and had never heard of go-go until her freshman year at Howard (which even she admits is not a go-go hotspot for DC). Yet she chest-thumps protectively about go-go and DC as if she owns the place and is the gatekeeper of the music. In other words, she's a dilettante who understands neither the music nor the area.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By funkadelicia on August 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard the author on a radio program and I wanted to learn more about go-go. I did not. she favored some bands and left out others. iam an avid reader and love books, but I did not like this one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mandy L. on December 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved the book but I honestly can't imagine anyone outside of Washington, D.C. or not having any familiarity with D.C. feeling the same way. I really liked the quotes at the beginning from Duke Ellington's perspective. It shows a historical viewpoint of the city, which helps readers understand the cliquish behavior of the present Washingtonians but it is also a great introduction to the book. The part about visions being Asian owned came as a shock to me and I'm glad that was in the book as well. I also appreciated the justification of the negative acts surrounding go-go, although the part about the dippas was a little bit of reach to me. Something's about the go-go can't be excused. Still, it was written by someone who isn't from D.C. and I don't feel any biases coming from the author. She really did her research and it's great reading about my city and its music from a non-Washingtonians perspective. Anyone from D.C. especially those who frequented the go-go scene would love this book. Plus because I am a 26, I learned thing about the go-go experience and the real D.C. from the 90's I never knew.

Great gift. Even if the person isn't an avid reader, reading about this can surely bring back some memories and create appreciation. Long live old dc!
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