As a native Washingtonian, growing up, I seemingly organically, became immersed in the go-go music scene. I’m not going to write this review as a true columnist today, you know someone who didn’t really grow up in the sub-culture that I so love. I’m also not going to do this review as someone with vested interest.
No, my friends, I’m going to write this review as the fan I am. Being the fan I am, some of you are going to be confused with some of the terminology and lingo but the true fans of gogo will know exactly what I’m speaking of. So…without further ado…the latest release from the legendary Backyard Band “Street Antidote”.
A little back-story about my affinity for the Backyard Band or BYB for acronyms sake. Around 1993 or 1994, my uncle “put me on” to Backyard. I would walk over to his apartment and he would be playin gogo tapes and I would come over and listen with him, basically our daily tradition. One day he kept going thru tapes of this band I couldn’t decipher.
“D, I’m tellin you….this Backyard Band…..rockin….gonna be the best out dere!”
And I would just nod my head in agreement because, at age 13, everything my Big Uncle told me was truth to me (shout out Uncle Mike aka Schooner). Around that time, I was given permission by my mom to finally attend age-appropriate go-go shows and Backyard would play a lot at the Oxon Hill Staff and Development Center. Around school they were known as “the band that hit all that Onyx shit” but they developed into much more than that. They created their own lane, their own signature style and for the next two decades, became IMHO the greatest go-go band that was ever assembled.
Now that doesn’t mean they had continuous crank through the years. Some years I thought they were too rototom-based as a unit (which begat the bounce beat) and didn’t give their congo player extraordinaire, Hot Sauce, enough bump, various front line changes we had to get used to as fans (from Bruce, to Wincee, to LJ, to Earl, to Miss Kim, to Lysette, to latest singer and radio cover smash hit “Hello” songstress Sweet Thang). But one thing was for certain, no matter what band was hot for a year or two, pound for pound, when it is time to rock, NO ONE is better than the mighty BYB. The aforementioned radio hit “Hello” may have put BYB in a spotlight (spotlight HEEEEEYYYY!) for the masses in the DMV but for us, they never left…they are just better than ever.
Now that I got that out of the way….
First things first…after one complete listen…THIS THANG ROCKIN’ SLIM!!!
Off the break, this “Drag Me Down”, which is a damn One Direction (!) cover, sets the tone for the 1st of three CD’s for our listening pleasure. BYB has the innate ability to create these covers, give it their own flavor unlike most of these boring ass pocket jazz wannabe go-go bands, and crank out the fuckin’ club. After a crankin’ ass socket and a couple of their classics, Los kills this “Wowzers”. I absolutely love this “California” groove. This is new-era BYB at its best IMHO, the whole band in a groove together where you can vividly hear every instrument doing its part for the crank. As an old school BYB fan, hearing “Hook Me Up” with such clarity sices my life….I was goin’ off when I first heard this joant!
Disc 2 starts off with one of my favorite tracks of this whole project, “Antidote”.
Its not fair to follow up “Antidote” with this Dej Loaf joant “Back Up” featuring my homie Killa Cal of RE blessing the mic as well. Cal jiah murdered this one. This disc must have been specially crafted for a dude like me because its almost in perfect sequence. “Keep It Real” aka “That CNN/N.O.R.E joant” has always been one of my favorite congo grooves and this version ain’t disappointing, slim. “Rise” and “You Made The Call” rockin’ right into that “99”…shawty…..every Dope Jam on this fuckin’ project rockin’ like shit.
When you hear this “Moola”, if you’re the type of fan like I am, it may become your favorite, cuz its mines. Special guests Keke of RE, Ms Kim of Team Familiar, Shooters of ABM and Bo of TCB rock on the next couple of tracks until you get into the song most new fans were waiting for, “Hello”. I remember when I first heard a clip of “Hello” on Instagram and told my fellas “Hey man…they might got them one with this!” and damn if they didn’t. This version is rockin’ like shit obviously, could have left out the girl towards the end but whatever, that’s nitpicking.
Disc 3 come out with a smooth number called “Sing About Me”. Big G givin’ you that vintage “G” we all love with Earl killin’ the vocals. The next couple tracks are kinda skip-able until “Backyard Party”. This my muthafuckin’ jam right here! “Revolution” may be my favorite song on this disc. I love the growth of this band so much, I tend to like these “warm up” tracks better than the ubiquitous dope jams now. BUT sayin’ that, that “91” is my favorite Dope Jam of em all and they are extra rockin’ during this version. Before I end this review, I MUST give props to Backyard’s soundman Deuce 9, who has put his foot into these tracks. A lot of fans don’t realize how special a great soundman is for live go-go, and Deuce 9’s signature sound has Backyard sounding as crisp and invigorated as I’ve ever heard them on CD. Ending the CD are classics “93” “O-Cup” and that “97” droppin that Unibomber!
Look, because of the lack of quality releases and overall weak product coming from a lot of go-go bands, for a band who is leading the charge to keep go-go relevant to release which could be considered a go-go classic, is a testament to all of the members, management and Backyard staff as a whole. You are going to hear this project throughout the city this summer at every cookout and it’s warranted. This may be the best gogo release since the Thanksgiving 2000 double CD Backyard released from The Met.
Keep bringin’ the masses that crank fellas!
Backyard Band’s “Street Antidote” can be purchased starting tomorrow 4/15/16 online at http://www.backyardbanddc.com/shop or at any DTLR location!
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