Drop The Bomb – The Story Of Trouble Funk & D.C. Go Go with Trouble Funk Leader Big Tony – By JayQuan  January 2008

Trouble 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. Everyone from L.L. Cool J, Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys, K9 Posse ,Kurtis Blow ,The Furious 5 and KRS One has sampled Trouble Funk. These cats are the true founders and forefathers of the Go Go sound that originated in Washington. Although many people are familiar with Pump Me Up, and the world heard “Da Butt” by E.U. the true story of the origins of Trouble Funk and Go Go music has not been told. It is my honor to tell the story of the Go Go ambassadors - Trouble Funk!

 

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 D.C.?

 

BT: Yes Sir!

 

JQ: Do you come from a musical family?

 

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?

 

BT: 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.

 

He 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. I noticed that Chuck had a very intimate connection with the crowd, and he made them feel like part of the show. Also between songs the drummer never stopped. He played the same beat between every song.

 

JQ: What year are we talking about?

 

BT: 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 maxi single?

 

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.

 

I 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 Style right?

 

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’ permission?

 

BT:  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 there’s rap.

 

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, Drop 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 we had.

 

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 shows?

 

BT: 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 man though!!

 

JQ: Were these promoted as battles?

 

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 that.

 

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 record ever.

 

JQ: 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 crew?

 

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 name right?

 

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 Sweat Band.

 

JQ: In the U.K. Arkade Funk is considered Electro….

 

BT: 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 Trans 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 versions?

 

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.

 

JQ: 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.

 

 

JQ: 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 commercial.

 

But 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.

 

JQ: How did the Slim record It's In The Mix come about?

 

BT: 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.

 

So 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.

 

We 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.

 

JQ: Didn’t Slim have a song on the Good To Go soundtrack.

 

BT: 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 interesting experience.

 

JQ: What did you think of the Party Time record with E.U. and Kurtis Blow?

 

BT: 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.

 

JQ: 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?

 

BT: 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 guys.

 

JQ: Yeah they were trying on drum machines at that.

 

BT: 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.

That 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.

 

JQ: So it seems that 90% or more of the Trouble Funk material was written, or arranged by you, is that true?

BT: Yeah, no doubt……

 

JQ: 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.

 

BT: 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 music.

When 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.

 

JQ: The Trouble Over Here lp on Island was a big let down. It seemed like y’all abandoned Go Go on that.

 

BT: 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.

Then 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.

 

JQ: 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.

 

BT: 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!!

 

JQ: The movie Good To Go was based on his life right?

 

BT: 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.

 

JQ: You mentioned before that the band was originally called Trouble, how did the Funk part come into play.

 

BT: 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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