Go-go is a subgenre associated with funk that originated in the Washington, D.C., area during the mid- 1960s to late-1970s. It remains primarily popular in the area as a uniquely regional music style. A great number of bands contributed to the early evolution of the genre, but The Young Senators, Black Heat, and notably singer-guitarist Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers are credited with having developed most of the hallmarks of the style.
Inspired by artists such as the groups formerly mentioned and Chuck Brown, Go-go is a blend of funk, rhythm and blues, and early hip-hop, with a focus on lo-fi percussion instruments and funk-style jamming in place of dance tracks, although some sampling is used. As such, it is primarily a dance hall music with an emphasis on live audience call and response. Go-go rhythms are also incorporated into street percussion.
In technical terms, "Go-go's essential beat is characterized by a syncopated, dotted rhythm that consists of a series of quarter and eighth notes (quarter, eighth, quarter, (space/held briefly), quarter, eighth, quarter)… which is underscored most dramatically by the bass drum and snare drum, and the hi-hat… [and] is ornamented by the other percussion instruments, especially by the conga drums, timbales, and hand-held cowbells."
Unique to Go-Go is an instrumentation with 3 standard Congas and 2 "Junior Congas", 8" and 9" wide and about half as tall as the standard Congas, a size rare outside of Go-Go. They were introduced to Rare Essence by Tyrone Williams -aka- Jungle Boogie in the early days when they couldn't afford enough full sized Congas, and are ubiquitous ever since. A swing rhythm is often implied (if not explicitly stated).
Another important attribute in go-go is call-and-response vocals with the crowd in concert.
There is generally little familiarity with go-go music outside of the D.C. Metro area, which includes the District of Columbia and the city's outlying Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Consequently, the relatively little commercial success (by industry standards) go-go bands have experienced has largely been a product of the genre's following in this geographic region. Nevertheless, the style continues to evolve.