The Bomb – The Story Of Trouble Funk & D.C. Go Go with Trouble
Funk Leader Big Tony – By JayQuan January 2008
Funk provided the soundtrack for my child hood, and many other people
who grew up in the Virginia / D.C. / Maryland area. Drop The Bomb was
the song that got everybody on the floor at my first middle school
dance. When they shouted out Richmond the party went wild!! In
high school when we had our senior cut parties we rocked to 4th
Gear and Double Trouble from the Saturday Night Live album.
Jay Quan: It’s truly an
honor! What instruments do you play, and who are your influences?
Big Tony: Bass guitar is my
main instrument, but I play all percussion, a lil drums and a lil
guitar. I play very little keyboards on the work station, but bass
guitar is my main instrument. Musically Larry Graham, Stanley Clarke and
Billy Preston were my influences. Vocally Barry White, Larry Graham and
believe it or not Johnny Cash.
JQ: Are you originally from
BT: Yes Sir!
JQ: Do you come from a
BT: Well my father was a
producer. He didn’t really do much with it, but he had an artist named
William DeVaughn who did Diamond
In The Back. That was actually my father’s record, but you know
how the music business goes.
JQ: So your father was the
executive producer on that?
BT: Exactly, but my father
didn’t have a contract on him, so William went on and did some other
things. My mother used to play piano back in the days also. By the time
I was old enough to be interested in music they had put all of that
behind them, so I really became interested on my own.
JQ: How old were you when you
became good enough to really play?
That is a story in itself!! But I got my first guitar when I was ten or
so. The way I got it was I used to live up in Northwest (D.C.) around 17th
& U streets. Me & my friends used to walk up to Meridian Hill
Park, and there were some apartments on the left side, and some one had
gotten evicted. The guitar was out there with his stuff, so I took it. I
was on the way home with it and the guy saw me. Well I was young and
easily intimidated so when he told me he would have me locked up for
stealing his property I believed it. He made a deal with me and said
that I could keep it if I learned to play it by the next time I saw him.
Again I was young, so I really didn’t consider that I probably would
never see him again, so I practiced everyday. My sister eventually broke
the guitar, so my mother bought me another one.
I got tired of that and
became interested in bass guitar, and then drums. I went from drums back
to bass and stayed there. I got my first professional gig when I was 15
years old. I was going to school and playing the clubs at night. I was
playing this club called the Park 3 on Georgia Ave. I played with a guy
named Johnny Barnes who had this lil top 40 band. Musicians would come
in on a Monday, and they were given stuff to learn. You came back
Wednesday, and who ever played the best would get the gig for the
weekend. They used to call me Big Young’un (young one), and they would
say Big Young’un you beat ‘em every week, so we may as well give you
the gig!!! Like I said I was a big Larry Graham fan, so I knew all of
Grahams stuff so I had a whole set where I did covers of his songs. The
only thing that they asked was that I stay away from the bar.
JQ: Did you stay away?
BT: Yeah. The bar & women
weren't my interest at the time, so I stayed away.
JQ: So Trouble Funk wasn’t
your first band then?
BT: No, me my cousin Dyke
& Taylor used to play all the time. Dyke played horns &
guitar and Taylor
played keyboards and did vocals. We had a band called 8000 B.C. We had another called Demolition, which was managed by
Wilbert Stanley. The problem was my cousin Dyke wanted to do everything
in all the bands we formed, and it always caused conflict. I decided to
do something on my own for a change, and I was approached by Reo Edwards
who is the original founder of Trouble. The bass player before me in
Trouble was named Gerald, and I taught him how to play. Reo said that
Gerald was nothing’ but Trouble, and he asked me if I wanted to play.
At that time the band was just called Trouble Band & Show, and they
were playing the cabaret circuit doing a lot of top 40 cover tunes. Rick
Nixon the drummer was the music director when I got in the band. About a
month after I joined, my cousin Dyke auditioned playing the guitar, then
a keyboard player quit, so we used him on keyboards and guitar because
he played all instruments really.
played trombones, flute, guitar, keyboards, he did it all except drums. We
started to gel a little bit, and we always did original material so we
introduced some of it to the rest of the group. We played the club Le
Baron where they had cabaret from 9 till 12, then they would shut down
and Chuck Brown would play from 12 till 6 in the morning. He didn’t
play straight through, but those are the hours that they had the go go.
The club needed an opening act for Chuck, because he wouldn’t come in
until about 2 or 3 am.
We took the gig, and for
about the first month the place was packed and no one would dance, they
would just look at us. We were playing good top 40 music, and no one was
dancing! After the show we would go in the dressing room and point
fingers of blame for why the people weren’t responding. I knew it
wasn’t what we were doing, but what we weren’t doing that was the
problem. After they argued and left, I would stay and just analyze Chuck
and his band to see what was different because we were playing some of
the same stuff, but they were dancing for Chuck.
JQ: What year are we talking
About ‘75 or ‘76……We would open up for Chuck, and in exchange
the club owners would pay us a little less , but let us rehearse in the
club. I told Reo one day after rehearsal that I knew what we were
missing, and that I needed a microphone. Reo said that we had tried
everything else so what the hell. Reo
told Rick to step down as music director , and he didn’t take
too kindly to that, but we did it , and me & Dyke had this tune
called Roll With It that had that roto tom roll that you hear everybody doin’.
We started that roll, and we opened our show with it. People were all
over the floor dancin’ and when we tried to go into somethin’ else
the floor would open up again!! We had to play that song damn near all
night to keep the people dancin’.
JQ: So this is the same
version of Roll With It
that’s on the Pump Me Up
BT: Yeah the same
one….Chuck and his band would come in looking at the people dancing.
Chuck was in the studio at the time and he had just recorded Bustin’
Loose. He told the club owner – Ted Hawkins that he didn’t want us
playing with him anymore because we were stealing his music. He went out
to tour to support Bustin’ Loose, and that left the Club Le Baron wide
open for us!! We had it locked, and we were sellin’ it out by
ourselves. They were diggin’ the original stuff more than the top 40
material. I figured out that we had to do the top 40 stuff and throw the
originals in, to make them appreciate the originals more. We made it
look pretty easy so other groups started coming along. Everybody was
scared to challenge Chuck at what he was doing until we came along.
remember we had a battle of the bands at the Carolina skating rink. It
was Chuck Brown, us and E.U. .They were playing funk rock back then;
they weren’t even playing Go Go. Sugar Bear came up to me and said
“y’all sound pretty good, but you need to stop talking on the mic so
much and play your bass”. I said im not doing what I want im doing
what the people want. I saw him a month later and he was on the mic
sayin’ “say what now”. The moral of the story is you can do what
you want, or do what the people want and get paid! Chuck Brown said a
long time ago that blues and jazz is his passion, but it doesn’t put
bread on the table. Sometimes
you have to do what you gotta do, to do what you want to do!! There
aren’t a lot of people who are free to do what they want to musically.
Prince is really the last one left who can do that.
Chuck Brown's early records
weren’t Go Go. Chuck was doin’ Go Go but he wasn’t recording it.
Trouble Funk was the first to actually record Go Go. Bustin’
Loose was a top 40 funk record with Go Go ingredients and the
breakdown. E Flat Boogie (by
Trouble Funk) and Bustin’ Loose
were the first recordings with Go Go in them. The very first Go Go
recording ever released was Straight
Up Funk Go Go Style. People
don’t acknowledge that.
JQ: What was up with Pump Me
Up being on Jam Records, Jamtu and T.F. Records?
BT: We released it originally on our own label TF Records, but it got so big that we didn’t have the pressing power to supply the demand. Jamtu records was Henry Moore’s label, and he had better distribution power. We sold a lot with him, but we weren’t seeing the money. We went to Maxx Kidd next because he had Al & The Kidd records. We did E Flat Boogie with him. Something happened between him & our manager so we backed up off of him, and next we went to Sugar Hill. We got a good fucking from Joe Robinson. We did get national recognition with them, but no money.
Under that contract for a
period of time we couldn’t record as Trouble Funk. We didn’t even
sign that contract, Reo signed as a person doing business as Trouble
Funk. We had to find a way to get around not being able to record as
Trouble Funk, so we started our own label called D.E.T.T. Records,
because we were in debt. We were broke so that name was very
appropriate. Sugar Hill still has the masters to 3 unreleased albums
that we recorded. We never finished those songs, because we were gonna
finish them up there (Sugar Hill’s New Jersey studios).
JQ: That version of Drop The
Bomb on Sugar Hill records is just an edit from Straight Up Funk Go Go
BT: Yes it’s just an
edit….. we just got the rights to our stuff back, and we just made a
settlement with State Property because they used Lets Get Small. That
joint went platinum and they didn’t get nobody’s permission!!
JQ: That brings me to one of
my later questions. Rock The Bells by LL Cool J , various Beastie Boy
songs as well as Criminal Minded by KRS ONE and Rebel Without A Pause by
Public Enemy , and Kid N Play to name a few have lifted chunks of
Trouble Funk samples. This was in the mid 80s, was anybody getting’
We were getting paid from our samples. It costs more money to
hire a lawyer but we always did. A lot of these local (DC) cats go
represent themselves and get played. A few samples did get by us though.
We were still learning the business and sampling was still new. But DJ
Kool man we made him!! We never went after him because we didn’t wanna
go after anybody local, and he was like family to us, but he snatched a
lot of our stuff for his first singles!
JQ: As a musician did you
have any respect for rap when it first came out?
BT: Musically I didn’t
respect it. Vocally I did. Musically they didn’t have anything to
respect. In the early days everything was just replayed versions of
other hit songs. There is really no such thing as rap music. Only in the
last 10 years they have come up with a unique music, but you still
can’t really call it rap music, its just music. There’s music, then
JQ: So im sure you weren’t
fond of sampling when it came around in the mid 80s.
BT: No, I didn’t like the
idea that they were just taking someone’s stuff right off the record.
They did that a lot with James Brown, but he came back on ‘em. He said
“take my voice off our record, till im paid in full”. I thought on
one level that it was brilliant that they could take something old that
had worked before and make it resurface, but at least give the original
performer their rights, and pay ‘em. I don’t mind them taking my
stuff and using it, cause im gonna get paid all over again, but give me
my credits! But artistically they are cheating themselves and their fans
because these songs were hits years ago, and when they reuse them the
current fans think it's something original and new.
JQ: Its funny you say that,
because just the other day I was playing Be Alright by Zapp, and my kids
were in the car and they said “oh they took that from Tupac”. I had
to tell them that it was the opposite.
BT: My son heard the original
version of Moody’s Mood and he said “that man is singing Chuck
Browns song; I said no Chuck Brown is singing that mans song!! I respect
people that can bring that stuff back, but only when they put their own
thing on it, not just taking someone’s sample, there’s no
originality in that.
JQ: As one who grew up on
Earth Wind & Fire, Cameo, Confunkshun, P Funk and the Barkays and
saw these groups live I feel that Black Music is dying or dead because
we don’t have anything musically that is nearly on the level of those
groups. If we want to hear that kind of music we have to listen to the
oldies station. Do you agree, and what do you think the reason is?
BT: Well I will say that
there are no more classic groups like Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie
Wonder or even Trouble Funk. One reason is because everything is done so
fast!! You have a record come out – Soulja Boy, Party Like A Rock
Star or whatever. These records will be hot for 3 or 4 weeks, or let’s
say 10 weeks. When they die down that’s it, you don’t hear from them
again! But stuff like Funkadelic, Reasons by Earth Wind & Fire,
The Bomb & Pump Me Up. These are songs that took time to create.
They still are played today and they were made 30 years ago.
I really feel like there will never be another true classic.
Maybe some stuff by Mary J Blige or R. Kelly deserves classic status,
but I don’t think they will stand the test of time like the classics
JQ: Technology has made it so
that anyone with a computer and an internet connection can be considered
a musician. In fact Soulja Boy says that he made that song on his
computer, and put it on my space and it blew up from there. You hear
some of these producers say that they made their album in a week, and it
sounds like it!!
BT: Exactly. That song has
one melody, a finger snap and an 808 (kick drum). That’s it, the rest
is all vocals. I’ve studied this tune man. One thing is the dance. The
other is the vocals. He uses his voice as a percussion instrument.
It’s real catchy. I would never do a song like that, but it works and I
wanted to know why it works. I would use something more artistic and put
my own idea and concept to it to make it what I think it should be.
JQ: I have tried to figure it
out as well. When I went to the Redskins game and they played the song
like 10 times, and the cheerleaders had a routine to it, I knew it was
official. I was trying to figure what the appeal of the song was, but I
know it’s the dance, and the repetition of it. I can’t really even
understand what he is sayin’!!
BT: He has some good
rhythmic structure to his voice though. I plan to do a couple of those
just to eat. Not that cheesy, cus im a grown man – I got grand kids,
but in today’s music less is more. At one point you couldn’t get a
hit without an orchestra, but that whole thing flipped. Even Barry White
before he died had to learn to use a sequencer to cut down on his
overhead. I have nothing against sequencers, and if used properly they
can be as good as a real band. But when its time to play that stuff live
you better have a kick ass band that can play as good as or better than
the sequencer did in the studio! That’s one thing that Trouble Funk
had a reputation for was the live show.
JQ: That was a later question
as well. What kind of rehearsing and preparation went into those live
We had our own warehouse back in the day. We would come in at 8 or 9 and
might not leave till 2 or 3. If it called for it we would practice 6 or
7 days a week. When I rehearsed the band it was no time limit, we leave
when we get it right, so a lot of ‘em didn’t like me. My thing was
no pain no gain and it still is. Im reinventing the band right now. Me
& T Bone are the only original members left. I have some new cats
and we are putting together a whole new chemistry. A lot of people are
gonna be surprised. I still keep in touch with the other guys, and we
are gonna do a reunion album soon.
No matter how old we get there is a chemistry there between
us, I mean we have been together more than 30 years. It all depends on
the passion that each person has to do it. I do know that some of them
don’t have the drive to do it as much as I do now. That’s mostly
because they all pursued other things. This is all I know; I haven’t
had a job in 30 years. James Avery our keyboard player became a chemist,
my cousin became a doctor, and another became director of music at Bowie
State. Some of them are making 6 figures, and that’s cool for them cus
that’s what they wanna do. Im gonna take my chances and go for the big
score because I don’t like mortgages. I wanna get what I want while im
alive, or I will die trying.
JQ: Going back you mentioned
a battle of the bands. Were there many battles back then?
BT: Yeah man it was
constantly battles. E.U. and Trouble Funk were like the Dallas Cowboys
& The Washington Redskins. Sometimes they would really bring it, im
not gonna lie!! We would have to go back to the wood shed and discuss
how we would play against them next time. Sugar Bear was always hype on
the mic. You catch him on a good night and he would bring it. As a group I
never felt that they could touch Trouble. Sugar Bear was a great hype
JQ: Were these promoted as
BT: Oh yeah!! They had those
big cardboard posters. They would have Trouble Funk inside one boxing
glove versus E.U. in the other, with battle of the bands at the top. I
would love to have one of those posters! Some of the groups took it too
literal & too personal, but it was fun for us. E.U. and the Peace
Makers would actually get into fights!!! We never had that problem cus
they knew we didn’t play. We had linebackers in our band!! They
didn’t call us Trouble for nothin’ back then. Chuck Brown came up to
me one day when I was about 21 & said “boy you got that big ol’
voice you ought to be a football player”.
JQ: What did you think of the
Da Butt by E.U.? I was always bothered that for many people outside of
VA/ Maryland /DC that was their introduction to Go Go.
BT: I disagree. Their
introduction to Go Go was Pump Me Up! Da Butt wasn’t really an
authentic Go Go song. It was an R&B song with Go Go in it. They
promoted it as Go Go. And when you have money behind you, you can do
JQ: I always said it wasn’t
Go Go because it had too many instruments in it. What was your reason?
BT: It had too many
instruments, and the only real way to record Go Go is live. That’s
what Go Go is about. It has to be recorded live. Even if you record in
the studio you have to have a crowd!! You have to have an audience. We
had a controlled environment, but we kept it live. We went to one of the
biggest recording studios in the metropolitan area, and we took a bus
full of 75 people with chicken, sodas, beer and we had a Go Go right
there in the studio. That’s how we did Straight Up Funk Go Go Style
Live. It was live in the studio. We re created a set that we had done
before at the Moon Light Inn, but we couldn’t afford a mobile studio
to record it. We did that exact same set in the studio with a crowd.
See the djs had started to
challenge us. They would get a real good cassette tape of one of the
other bands, and when we were taking a break between sets they would
play tapes of E.U. or Rare Essence. This took a lot of energy out of the
crowd, so they were tired by the time we went for our second set. We had
to find a way to get the djs back on those records!! They were making us
work too hard. If we took a 45 minute break, and they played all these
Go Go tapes, people were dancin’ that whole 45 minutes, that means we
had to really work to keep them up. We had to show those djs that a real
band, who has their shit together, will beat a tape any day, but I
didn’t wanna work that hard! So we kicked ass that night at the Moon
Light, and showed the djs what was up, then we got the idea to go into
the studio with that same exact set!!! That was the first live Go Go
I have wondered since I was a kid, on Drop The Bomb, are you sayin’
“we gonna drop the bomb on the white boy crew, or Northwest Crew”?
BT: Oh we dropped the bomb on
both of ‘em. The white boy crew and the north west crew!
JQ: Who was the tape recorder
BT: The tape recorder crew
was these kids that came to the shows with big boom boxes to record it.
It don’t sound like nothin’ because the music is so loud that you
cant hear anything but noise. It sounded like garbage, but to them it
was crankin’ When I said where’s the tape recorder crew you saw
about a hundred boxes go up in the air. We also had the umbrella crew.
They were just people who came to the show with umbrellas. If I saw 3
people with umbrellas I would shout them out, and they were the umbrella
crew. The next show it might not be raining, but there would be 50
umbrellas, cus people wanted to be part of the umbrella crew. You the
headache crew, which were dudes with crazy haircuts.
JQ: And the white boy crew
was just whatever white boys that were in the audience?
BT: Exactly. Whatever white
boys were in the audience, or some real light skinned cats!!
JQ: Now I know you had a song
called Super Grit, and in Drop The Bomb you called out the Super Grit
crew. Who were they?
BT: Super Grit was a dance.
You made a real ugly face and bobbed your head to the groove. Who ever
was doing that was the Super Grit Crew. D.C. just had our own thing, and
all of that was just fun stuff to do.
JQ: On the song called The
Beat the intro is the same as Trouble Funk Express……
BT: Yeah The Beat did so
well, and we needed an intro for Trouble Funk Express, so we used that
same drum roll. It was almost like a sequel.
JQ: Arkade Funk was my shit!
It was credited to Tilt. That was just Trouble Funk under a different
BT: Yes, like I said we were
in a contract with Sugar Hill where we couldn’t record for awhile. So
we did Dett records, and we recorded under different names like Tilt,
Slim, Hot Cold Sweat, it was just us finding a way around that contract.
Hot Cold Sweat was actually a mixture of Trouble Funk and the Hot Cold
JQ: In the U.K. Arkade Funk
is considered Electro….
Yeah it was inspired by Planet Rock, and Jam On Revenge by Newcleus and
all that stuff. Sometimes if something was hot we would put our own spin
on it and make it ours. Like Trouble Funk Express was a take off
Europe Express by Kraftwerk. When I heard Rick James on Super Freak say
“ I really love to taste her” I came up with the idea for Hey Fellas
when we say “let’s find a super freak so we can take time out to
taste her”. That was the only raunchy record we ever did. The radio
thought that was too much at the time.
JQ: I loved the way you made
the Pac man tune, and all the sound effects like the ghosts being
chomped sound just like the video game on Arkade Funk. That was perfect
for me ‘cus I
was an arcade junkie…… A few years back Bally / Midway (creators of
the Pac man arcade game) sued Lil Flip
for actually sampling directly from the game. How did you get those
sounds so precise?
BT: It’s funny you say that
‘cus me & my cousin used to go to the arcades with a tape recorder
and record these sounds. That’s how the record came about. We were
gonna use the actual sounds originally but it didn’t work right, so we
studied the sounds, then went to the actual keyboards and synthesizers
and recreated the sounds. We knew they had to come from somewhere.
JQ: Who did the vocoders?
BT: I did the deep voice, and
Dyke and James did the high voices.
JQ: What made you do 2
BT: We wanted to play it safe
and do 2 tempos. We liked both and couldn’t choose just one.
It worked because everyone has their favorite version.
You did a sequel called Search & Destroy, but instead of calling
yourselves Tilt, you called yourselves Arkade Funk. What was the
deal with that?
BT: That was everybody tryin’
to cash in on it. That was something Maxx Kidd (executive producer) had
done. We started on it, but never released it. We had some real bad
internal management problems, and the money was getting funny. Maxx Kidd
bought the masters from Reo Edwards (manager), and they hired me to come
in and finish it. Maxx was trying to control the money with DETT, and we
wouldn’t let him. Maxx will fuck your money up; he is real bad with
money. So since he couldn’t control the money with DETT, he flipped
it, and put records out on TTED. He was a brilliant promoter, but he did some
other things that were not in our best interest.
JQ: So DETT was owned by just
the band, or the band and your manager?
BT: DETT stood for Dyke,
Edwards, Taylor and Tony. No management, just the band. Maxx just
confused the market, because everything on DETT was selling. When
people went in the stores they were buying the TTED records as well, cus
they all looked the same.
What ever happened with that movie Good To Go, was it ever released?
BT: Yeah, but no one cared
about it. It never was released on dvd , but I think Encore played it a
few years back. I heard talk that it’s coming on TV One.
JQ: I always felt Go Go and
Hip Hop are like cousins. They share the common theme of Blacks from the
inner city making something from nothing. Do you agree?
BT: Yes, they have a lot in
common. The thing is the business foundation of Hip Hop is stronger.
Here in D.C. you have some smart people, but they’re all crooks. The
honest people don’t know enough. In Hip Hop the rappers battle and
talk about each other, but when its time to make money they can work
together. These cats here in D.C. take stuff too personal. They don’t
like each other, and don’t want to work with each other. Chuck Brown
got rich right here locally. These guys have that foolish pride where
they can’t put their differences aside and work together.
JQ: On the In Times Of
Trouble double lp there was one record with a live concert, that ended
up being the classic Saturday Night Live lp on Island records. How
did it happen that Island picked this up 3 or 4 years later?
BT: The In Times Of Trouble
album was another one of Maxx Kidd s ideas; it was the direction that he
thought the band should go in. The actual studio part of the album was
bullshit and it wasn’t Trouble Funk, but it was like whatever. Some of
us were down for the change, and some weren’t. Im a team player, but I
was one of those who wasn’t down for the change. He tried to take us
the live part of the lp almost went in the trash. It was a live record
we did at the Paragon, but nobody could mix it. We were about to throw
the masters in the trash, but I asked if I could try to mix it. This
album was so bad the engineers didn’t wanna deal with it. They would
call in sick when they thought we were comin’. The studio was in
Virginia and it was called Bias. There was this engineer named Chuck –
a young white guy who loved Go Go. When the other engineers called in
sick I asked Chuck to sit in. I had to do some unorthodox stuff on the
mix but it worked, and I saved the day on that one!
Maxx Kidd had a real big deal
with Chris Blackwell at Island, because he told him that he managed all
the Go Go groups, which wasn’t true. Chris said I wanna sign them all,
and have you control it. He gave him however many million as a budget.
How did the Slim record It's In The Mix come about?
Slim was just a Trouble Funk fan who came to the shows, and he was more
like a character. He would do things to get attention, like scream at
the top of his lungs, and look down at the floor. He would have
everybody lookin’ down at the floor. He would just yell out stuff like
“call the police” or “im gon’ tell”. He would come up to the
front of the stage with this big boom box yellin’ “don’t touch
that stereo”. I noticed how entertaining he was to the people, but he
had no musical background or experience at all. I came up with the idea
of taking him into the studio and getting him to do all those things
with a good track behind it. Keep in mind we had to camouflage some
things because we were in a real sour contract with Sugar Hill, and we
couldn’t record as Trouble Funk.
Ice Berg Slim and Tilt were 2 of the first things we were doing to try
to camouflage Trouble Funk. I took Slim in the studio and he was scared
as hell. He wasn’t used to that kind of environment. I had him try to
lay some stuff down on the track, and he couldn’t come up with
anything like he did at the shows!! I had to go in the booth with him
and damn near hold his hand. I had to have the engineer stop the track
and I had to instruct him on what to say. About half way through he got
comfortable, and we finished. It was a real big tune, but we couldn’t
perform it live!! We did a video with him on Dance Connection, and he
did a Chinese movie through the whole thing. He was either ahead of the
beat or behind the beat the whole time.
played at the Capitol Center, and we rehearsed the intro to the song. We
played a horn intro, and he was supposed to step to the beat of it, and
then when he reached the mic he was supposed to say “Don’t Touch
That Stereo”. When we practiced he didn’t really grab the mic
because we had to keep doin’ it. When it was time for the show, and he
was supposed to actually grab the mic he put his hand up to his mouth
instead of the mic , like he had done at practice. So you couldn't hear
most of what he said because his hand was up to his mouth. He finally
grabbed it, but by the time he did all you heard was the word stereo. It
was real hard to finish the song, I was laughing all the way through.
After that tune he got a lil big headed and tried to do some stuff on
his own so he went to Maxx Kidd. What they soon discovered was that Ice
Berg Slim was nothing without Big Tony. We continued on to do Tilt, then
Hot Cold Sweat. Hot Cold Sweat was a good band - we just added our
drummer, and I structured their vocals. The lead singer Charlie was like
a country version of Big Tony.
Didn’t Slim have a song on the Good To Go soundtrack.
That was the song he went to Maxx Kidd with. They tried to bring me in
to save the song, but the damage was done. It’s like when you take
your car to a mechanic, and he messes it up, then you try to take it to
a good mechanic and he doesn’t even want to look at it. Ice Berg was a
character, and he had no musical background, but he was almost 7 feet
tall and he just stood out when you saw him. He had something that he
didn’t even know he had, but he didn’t remain humble. He was in the
back of the Paragon shooting dice when I approached him. I asked if he
wanted to make some real money, and he was real non chalant like “I
don’t care”. I think he just got off on doing his thing naturally.
He just liked to smoke whatever he was smoking and trip out in front of
the crowd at the shows. He would yell out “somebody kill that roach”
and he had the whole crowd looking on the floor for a roach. That was an
What did you think of the Party Time record with E.U. and Kurtis Blow?
I didn’t really think too much about it. Kurtis was on Go Go hard ever
since we blew him out on the tour. I thought the song was a good mixture
of Hip Hop and Go Go though. It was a good commercial tune.
As far as you know did the other bands coming up in D.C. feel that Go Go
was about to go national based on that collaboration?
Well for my self I can say that Sugar Hill really got us good promotion
and put us out there nationally. We didn’t get the money that we were
supposed to get, but it opened the doors for record companies and other
artists to say “I want that sound”. When it started making noise a
lot of rappers were trying to claim it. Teddy Riley and a lot of those
Yeah they were trying on drum machines at that.
Right !! And you aint gonna ever get it on no drum machine!! That’s
what Go Go is all about – you never do the same thing twice. They got
some good records out of using the style though. They couldn’t claim
it though. For real for real the Go Go movement wasn’t able to follow
up behind a lot of it, because the record companies would hire you for
one thing, then get you to do something else. A lot of the bands
including some of the cats in my band wanted to be like Teddy Riley and
those guys instead of being themselves.
really hurt the movement. Go Go is a style of music where all we had to
do was continue to be creative, and get good business representation. In
Go Go there is enough to go around, but everybody is so greedy like they
have to get what they can get now because its not gonna be around
tomorrow. These guys didn’t stick to their guns, and Chuck Brown got
lucky and got good representation, with a guy who just happened to be a
fan of Go Go. Chuck Brown is a millionaire today.
So it seems that 90% or more of the Trouble Funk material was written,
or arranged by you, is that true?
Yeah, no doubt……
Im looking at this record that y’all did with the 2 Live Crew called The Bomb Has
Dropped. I don’t see your name on the credits, and your
pictures not on the cover.
I didn’t have anything to do that. The group was really broken up at
that time. Luke liked Go Go. My cousin Dyke knew Luke, and he convinced
Luke that he was the one doing all the stuff that Luke liked. He took
some stuff that I had already done and recycled it, but it didn’t turn
out too good. But later on Luke found out the truth, and I did
production on the Banned In The USA album. The same thing happened with
Kurtis Blow. Kurtis didn’t know who was doing what. They approached my
cousin Dyke. He was always the one doing the business, and I did the
it was time to do the video for Im Chillin’ Kurtis & the label
insisted that I be there visually, even though I did nothing on the
track. They took a bunch of old percussion stuff that I had already done
and put some fake ass music on it and the Transformers theme. Nothin’
was original about that track as far as what Dyke did. I was the face of
the band, and I made them pay dearly to have me in that video because I
was no longer with the band. Those were my beats and patterns from old
material that they used for that.
The Trouble Over Here lp on Island was a big let down. It seemed like y’all
abandoned Go Go on that.
Again I had nothing to do with that. I did 2 tunes on that album and I
didn’t finish those. I did Sexy and Hey T Bone. I didn’t agree
with the direction the label was taking the band in, and I felt we were
sellin’ out. That album was so bad that a lot of people don’t know
it exists. The labels will sign you for what you do, then try to change
you. Then they hired Bootsy to come in and produce some tunes. I got
nothing against Bootsy, but Bootsy funk is Bootsy funk – Trouble Funk
is Trouble Funk.
Bootsy came in with a lot of damn computers, and pushed one button, and
tried to call it Trouble. It don’t work like that. Chris Blackwell
took us out to dinner, and told us how he was about to make us rich. I
told him I would believe it when I saw it. I wasn’t gonna brown nose
him , and Island took the ones that would brown nose and put them out
front. The only tunes that anyone recognized as Trouble were the ones I
did, and they weren’t right because I didn’t finish them. Island
didn’t know how to promote Go Go, and they tried to make it into
something they were familiar with.
I always saw these names on your records like Reo Edwards, James Avery,
Max Kidd, and Robert Reed etc. Tell me more about Maxx Kidd.
Maxx Kidd was a well known promoter throughout the world. One of the
groups that he promoted a lot was the Gap Band. We needed someone who
could take E Flat Boogie further than D.C. , ‘cus we knew we had a
national hit. He agreed to work the tune, and once he got a taste he
started promoting himself as the founder of the Go Go – the Berry
Gordy of the Go Go!!
The movie Good To Go was based on his life right?
Yeah, but it was a fake movie, just like he was fake. He got caught up
in the hype. He did make the big deal with Chris Blackwell & Island
records, but he lied about that. He told him that he had signed all the
Go Go artists in D.C., but none of us were signed to him. Reo Edwards
was the founder of Trouble and the manager. He came to my house in the
projects in South East and asked me if I wanted the gig with Trouble.
You mentioned before that the band was originally called Trouble, how
did the Funk part come into play.
Well, my cousin Dyke used to play keyboards and guitar. We went and
bought a board and painted the words "Trouble
will funk you", then we put it on Dykes keyboard set up. Well it just
so happened that the words Trouble & Funk were bigger than the rest
of the words so from a distance all you could see was Trouble and Funk, and
it caught on.
JQ: Thanks for your time ,its an honor. Is there anything you have to say to aspiring musicians?
BT: Yes , I would like to say that you can achieve anything if you put God first! God is good even when we aren't!!
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