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Standout Track: Mambo Sauce’s love letter to Chocolate City crosses go-go with hip-hop, mashing icy keyboards with guitars and congas. The chorus explodes over an update of Chuck Brown’s distinctive pocket beat: “You know where you’re at, the U.S.A. cap/You’re taking us lightly, stop taking this lightly.” MC Alfred “Black Boo” Duncan drops shoutouts to Brown, BET, Junkyard, and Marion Barry, who “had a run-in with crack/But we all kept it real, and we voted him back.” Lead vocalist Yendy Brown owns the outro, crooning “We ain’t going nowhere.”
Musical Motivation: “We are the only original go-go band that plays only all original music,” says drummer Patricia “Twink” Little of the group’s MO. For anyone who has never been to Simple City and might be confused by D.C. musicians’ predilection for hip-hop covers with congas, “[Mambo Sauce] is packaged the way an R&B or rap artist would be packaged.” To Duncan, getting go-go into the mainstream is less a musical problem than a business one. “We can come together and write a song in 10 minutes,” he says. “[We’re working on] getting people to accept it.”
You Are What You Eat: What besides go-go is unique to D.C.? “Our keyboard player [Northeast Groovers alumnus Christian Wright] said chicken wings and mambo sauce,” says Duncan, explaining the band’s moniker. But how do non-natives respond to a group named after high-calorie carryout food? “We played Case Western,” Duncan says of a show at the Cleveland university. “They had never heard go-go before, but they were in love with it.” Little agrees but sets her sights a bit lower. “We haven’t had tomatoes thrown at us,” she says.