City Cast

3 Questions With Go-go Star Big Tony

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on June 2   |   Updated on June 5
Trouble Funk playing in 1988. (Mike Evans/Flickr)

Trouble Funk playing in 1988. (Mike Evans/Flickr)

“Big Tony” Fisher, the original lead of the seminal D.C. go-go band Trouble Funk, shaped the genre to be what it is today. With three gold albums and two platinums, the band is the most sampled group in hip-hop history and is still going strong.

What was it like when go-go was first getting popular?

“Back then, there was no such thing as go-go music. Go-go was just an atmosphere. ‘Hey man, where are you going today?’ ‘I'm going to see Chuck Brown, the Soul Searchers.’ The word go-go was originated by Smokey Robinson. But, we took that terminology and gave it a totally different meaning. So, first came the atmosphere, then came the beat, which was created by Chuck Brown. Chuck had this thing about knowing how to control the people, to get them on the floor.”

Go-go was everywhere in the '80s, but the government was cracking down on it. What was that like?

“It was a crazy scene. The media was really, really hard. They would blame go-go for everything bad that happened. And it really had nothing to do with go-go. Once, we were on tour in the UK and I called back home, and they said there was a shooting after a show where Trouble Funk was performing. But we weren’t even in the country.”

“It got such a bad rap back then. But really, we should have gotten more credit for getting kids off the streets and giving them something to do.”

What do you make of the state of go-go in DC today?

“Go-go is stronger than ever now. There are a lot of great things getting ready to happen with go-go, with Trouble Funk in particular. The party ain't over. We have a new album we're working on called ‘Trouble Funk, The Rebirth.’ And a single called “Southeast Crank,” about all the go-go groups that came up out of Southeast.”

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