Rare Essence is throwing a birthday party – and you’re invited. The legendary Washington D.C. band has been pioneering the genre of go-go since its incarnation in 1976. To celebrate their 45th anniversary, they’ve teamed up with rap icon and living legend, Snoop Dogg, for a new song, “Hit The Floor.” Not only that, but the band will also premiere the song and music video during a full 60-minute anniversary concert on Sept. 19. The Rare Essence 45th Anniversary Virtual Show (sponsored by Hennessy, Capital City Mambo Sauce, and WHUR) starts at 10 PM ET / 7 PM PDT and will be aired online at StageIt.
Fans can expect Rare Essence — Andre “Whiteboy” Johnson, James “Jas.Funk” Thomas, Ade “De-De” Florian, Roy “RB” Battle, Michael Baker, Calvin “Killa Cal” Henry, Quentin “Shorty Dud” Ivey, Samuel “Smoke” Dews, Willie Howell, and Tabria Lampkin – to tear the (virtual) house down, especially after hearing Snoop rave about the new song. “Just hearing the end result of it all, this record is a masterpiece,” he says about “Hit The Floor” in a sneak peek of the new track.
For those unfamiliar with go-go, this concert will be a perfect introduction to the official music of Washington, D.C. Considered a subset of funk, Go-Go originated in the nation’s capital during the late 60s to late 70s. Acts like Rare Essence, Experience Unlimited (aka E.U.), and Chuck Brown (aka “The Godfather of Go-Go”) helped establish the sound, with an emphasis on percussion and funky improvisation – or, y’ know, “jamming.” The genre took on more of a hip-hop sound during the 90s and 2000s, and Rare Essence has performed with rap icons in the past: KRS-1, Wu-Tang Clan, Ice Cube, French Montana, Eric B and Rakim, Erykah Badu, and Wale, just to name a few.
Ahead of their concert, Andre “Whiteboy” Johnson spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about working with Snoop. He also gave an insight into how a band like Rare Essence – which thrives on the energy of an audience – is prepping for this virtual concert. He also gave a short playlist of tracks essential to get the Essence of Rare Essence.
HollywoodLife: How did the collaboration with Snoop Dogg come about?
Andre Johnson: This collaboration came about because of an Instagram post that Snoop posted of him riding and listening to one of our songs entitled “Hey Buddy Buddy.” We reached out to him through a friend/homie of ours name Amir Boyd. He reached out to Snoop’s people, and they say he was interested.
How does it feel to be a band that’s celebrating its 45th anniversary? Not many bands have that distinct honor.
It is an honor to be celebrating 45 years of performing and even more gratifying to have the support of our audience for the entire time. A lot of the audience grew up with us and hold this Go-Go Music near and dear to their hearts. Some of them still have cassettes, CD’s and yes LP’s that they purchased from back in the day. Truly amazing!!
How would you describe “Hit The Floor?” Like, did you put some extra oomph in this song since it’s coinciding with this landmark anniversary?
“Hit the Floor” is a mixture of Go-Go and the G-Funk sound of the west coast blended into a party groove. We wanted to be sure to represent both artists on the song. The extra “oomph” is the fact that hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg is on the song with us. This is one of the best ways to celebrate a 45-year career, and we are super excited to be releasing the song in this milestone year for us.
You’ll be premiering the song along with a full 60-minute virtual set. Have you faced any challenges in preparing this virtual concert?
We will be debuting the song and video along with the virtual concert. The challenges are all the technical components that go with performing in a virtual world. From making sure the sound, lights, special, and the overall “Live Experience” is presented in a manner that that audience can enjoy the band without totally being distracted that they are not at a club or arena where they probably see most live performances. The cool thing about this is we can reach some of our out of state folks that may not have been able to come into town to attend the show.
What would you consider the top five songs that best capture the “essence” of Rare Essence?
- “Body Moves” (which is our first record release ever, our first time in the recording studio, and it was produced by our mentor, the Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown.)
- Live at Breeze’s Metro Club LP
- “Lock It”
- “Overnight Scenario”
- “One on One” (this is our first original song and a fan favorite until this day.)
You’ve worked with a litany of iconic artists over the past four decades – KRS-1, Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk, Method Man, Wale, Erykah Badu, Ice Cube, etc. – is there anyone left on the list that you still want to jam with?
There are quite a few artists that we would love to collaborate with. Just a few are Jill Scott, Mary J Blige, Maxwell, D’Angelo, Pharrell, Timbaland, Swizz Beats, Jermaine Dupri, Dr. Dre. There are about 35 others in various genres also.
Rare Essence’s 45th Anniversary Virtual Show will take place at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT on Sept. 19. Click here for more details.