Lecture by Thomas Sayers Ellis: “We, the People, Percussively Agree: Where the Pocket Beats and Breaks Between Go-Go and Hip Hop”

10/30/2014 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm

Co-Sponsored by the University of Arizona Africana Studies Program

Thomas Sayers Ellis is a poet, photographer, activist, editor, teacher---and also a carrier of the history of go-go. Go-go is a funk style that originated in Washington, D.C., in the 1960s. When hip-hop came along in the 80s, go-go and hip-hop collaborated and cross-pollinated. Ellis, who lived in D.C., was both a participant in and photographer of the go-go scene.

Go-go means to keep going, and rap is a form of talk. This lecture by Thomas Sayers Ellis will chart the early history of the exchange between go-go and hip hop, focusing on collaborations between the two genres of Black noise such as Experience Unlimited’s recordings with Kurtis Blow. It will also define and examine the role of the Grover Washington, Jr., influence pocket (Mister Magic), the percussive grammar of go-go, and go-go’s function as a resistance tool in the struggle for equality, home rule, and statehood in our nation’s Capitol. Attention will also be paid to the various same-nesses and differences between the go-go lead talker and the hip hop MC, both as poets, community news-givers, entertainers, and organizers of social sound.

Thomas Sayers Ellis will also share his rare photographs of go-go people and culture.

We extend a very big thanks to the UA Africana Studies Program for co-sponsoring and co-presenting this special event.



Poetry Center - Helen S. Schaefer Building
1508 East Helen Street (At Vine Avenue)
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
Go-go photos by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Thomas Sayers Ellis
Thomas Sayers Ellis

Thomas Sayers Ellis’s books include Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems (2010), The Maverick Room (2005), and The Good Junk (1996), all from Graywolf Press. He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, a John C....

Co-Sponsoring Entity: 
University of Arizona Africana Studies Program
Arizona Board of Regents