RARE ESSENCE

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The band developed from a relationship between four childhood friends: Quinten "Footz" Davidson, Andre "Whiteboy" Johnson, Michael "Funky Ned" Neal and John Jones. After school, the four young musicians would get together in each other's basements and play top forty hits from such influential bands like Parliament/Funkadelic, Cameo, and Confunkshun. Eventually the band adapted more players and conformed to the go-go sound that started in 1976. It was at that time that the band called on the assistance of Quinten's mother, Annie Mack, who became the band's first manager.

Today, Rare Essence is composed of 12 musicians who play a range of instruments from the timbales to the bass guitar. They play up to six nights a week.

Rare Essence has had success with such hits as "Body Moves", the hit album Live at Breeze's Metro Club, and the single "Lock-It" which was featured on the Strictly Business film soundtrack. The band's most successful single, "Work the Walls", reached #68 in the US Billboard R&B chart.

In 1993 Rare Essence had a deal with Andre Harrell who was the president of Uptown Records, signed the group Rare Essence through Sean Combs [1], but the group's recordings didn’t do too well so that relationship fizzled.[3] Go-go fans complain that most studio recordings aren't "hitting it”, says the Chicago Reader. But there are some studio recordings that are out there and Rare Essence has sold upwards of 30,000. However, fans prefer to listen to recordings of live shows.[4]

ADRare essence sued Jay - Z Jay z on the basis that their song “Overnight Scenario” was copied by Jay-Z in the song “Do It Again (Put your hands up)” which was the first single off of Vol.3 the Life and Times of S. Carter. There is an hour to hour account in the song “Overnight Scenario” and “Do it again”, follows the same concept.[5] For example Rare Essence's line was “Three in the Morning the Pancake House” while Jay-Z said “4 AM at the Waffle House”. The question was whether or not the problem should be called plagiarism or just similar concept. The group had been performing the song for most of the late 1990s and wanted an undisclosed amount of money in addition to writing and production credit. Jay – Z’s defense was that go–go music is just remakes of other artists’ songs.

A few band mates left the group Rare Essence in late 2000 and formed 911; howevever they didn't stray too far from Rare Essence's call and response funk. The new group's first CD, "Blueprint," earned good reviews and a couple songs got radio time. Whether it was simply because of a maturing audience or clubs trying to get away from the stereotypical violence associated with go –go, they have been moving away from aggressive sound toward what has been called "grown and sexy”, where groups use a backbeat of congas and timbales to jazzy, horn- driven R&B covers. Floyd from the group 911 called it, the "out to party, but dressed to impress and laid-back" crowd in the article called “Some Familiar Faces” in the Washington Post.[6]

911 started to play a more seasoned style and so they changed their name too Familiar Faces. Still, Familiar Faces takes artists like Sade and play their songs more powerfully than most R&B covers, by putting a sharp beat behind the mellow vocals, but Familiar Faces says "It's not the music that makes it grown and sexy, it's the lyrics". Now the group is moving from covering other peoples songs and focusing on original material stating that, “The only way go-go will ever make it nationally is on the strength of the original songs”.

Band member Anthony (Little Benny) Harley died on May 30, 2010 in Washington, D.C. He was 46 years old.[7]

 

 

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