It grew from a relationship between four childhood friends: Quentin “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 as 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 Quentins mother, Annie Mack, who became the bands first manager. Today, Rare Essence is comprised of 9 musicians who play a range of instruments from the timbales to the bass guitar. The band is still going strong playing several nights a week, even an occasional double-gig, playing two concerts in one night. They credit their continued success to their fans, who vibe together in such a way that only the actual experience can really display the level of enthusiasm that you see each and every show. 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 soundtrack. The band blew up the charts with their most successful single, “Work the Walls.” It was played on top 25 stations nationwide according to Billboard. Another notable release was 1998’s “Overnight Scenario”, which charted up and down the East Coast. Rare Essence has also celebrated successful collaborations with many other charted artists. 1986 brought the Aretha Franklin single “Jimmy Lee” which featured Rare Essence performing as her band in the video. 1996 brought the collaborated single with Doug E. Fresh entitled “Must Be Like That”, and again in 2003 with the CD release of “Live @ Club U Volume 2.” 1999 brought the collaborated single with Redman entitled “Push.” 2004 brought the regional hit of Ashley Simpson’s “Pieces of Me.” In 2002, Rare Essence guest starred with Ludcaris on the Jay Leno Show, performing his hit single “Roll Out.” That allowed for an invitation to once again to perform with Ludacris on the remix of “Pimpin All Over The World” with Bobby Valentino at the 2005 MTV VMAs. Their newest work, which is scheduled for release in 2009, appropriately entitled "The Wickedest Band Alive" features guest appearances by former members Donnell "D.Floyd" Floyd and Kimberly "Ms. Kim" Graham, and also Scooby AKA Frank Sirius formerly of Da Grewp. While the greatest success from Rare Essence remains mostly in the east coast region, their groove is loved by many dedicated fans all over the world. Even after 25 years true fans will gladly proclaim that “Rare Essence is the Wickedest Band Alive!” With success also came tragedies for Rare Essence. In 1994 they experienced the tragic death of original member Quentin “Footz” Davidson, who was later inducted in the Washington Area Music Association Hall of Fame, and in 2006, they were again struck with the tragic death of member Kent Wood. Even still the band continues to strive for excellence while entertaining thousands of loyal Rare Essence fans throughout the East Coast. Always being able to adapt to the times, 1996 came with the release of the album “Body Snatchers,” which also brought about personnel changes that allowed the band to once again reinvent their image allowing them continued success through a new generation. Today, Rare Essence consists of original member Andre “Whiteboy” Johnson (Lead Guitar), as well as Milton “GoGo Mickey” Freeman (Congas), David “32” Ellis (Vocals), Charles “Shorty” Garris (Vocals), Roy Battle (Keyboard), Michael Baker (Bass Guitar0, Quentin “Dud” Ivey (Percussion), Darrell “Blue Eye” Arrington (Drums), and Leroy “Scooter” Taylor (Keyboard). The impact of the Rare Essence foundation has been so solid and influential within the Go-Go industry that it has spawned generations of offshoots, styles, performance techniques, and emulation throughout the Go-Go circuit.
Slick Rick released his first solo album in 1988 titled The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. It hit No.1. on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop charts and was one of the first hip-hop records to go platinum. Rick was preparing to record his sophomore effort, The Ruler’s Back, but three weeks of recording sessions were followed by five years in jail. Clearly, there are moments of deliberate ambiguity in the Slick Rick Experience (enough to make P.T. Barnum blush). Still, plenty of facts uphold the mythos. The eye patch, for instance, is legit, courtesy of a glass shard that flew into Rick’s eye when he was an infant. And the British accent is genuine — its casual refinement belies every dumb gangsta stereotype. Throw in some gleaming grills, some bejeweled outerwear and – voila – you have the genius of Slick Rick. He’s no reticent wallflower – he’s larger than life.
In short, there’s nothing like the Slick Rick Experience. Every album is a parallel universe where old-time radio and urban culture collide. Aural theater merges with ghetto fantasy. Rick becomes a character actor with voice-throwing chops a ventriloquist would envy and narrative powers greater than Stephen King. In theory, it all seems preposterous – impossible to pull off. But because Rick has such a genuine gift on the mic – dexterity, cleverness, wit, articulation, fluidity – it works like gangbusters.
The Soul Rebels
Imagine blending the sounds of Mardi Gras funk, soul, R&B and reggae so seamlessly it defies category. Now shrink that idea into an eight-piece brass ensemble, add a hip hop sensibility plus 100 years of New Orleans jazz tradition, and you get the New Orleans sound known as The Soul Rebels.
Described by the Village Voice as “the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong”, The Soul Rebels grew from their traditional New Orleans brass style out of the desire to play the music they heard on the radio, but with respect to the New Orleans brass band tradition. The band has gone from a local New Orleans favorite to collaborations with Metallica, Green Day, George Clinton, Galactic, Juvenile, Trombone Shorty, Roy Hargrove, and many others.
The Soul Rebels have traveled the U.S. and abroad, bringing their live and uncut rhythms and grooves to the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Brazil and beyond. The band has performed at many prestigious music festivals and on stages across the world, including stops at Bonnaroo, Electric Forest Festival ,Umbria Jazz Festival, WOMAD Festival, Antibes Jazz Festival, the Wanee Festival, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, to name a few.
Since Hurricane Katrina, the band has been more successful than ever serving as an international ambassador of the New Orleans sound. Now a hardcore touring band with a solid-as-ever lineup, the band has recently represented its hometown on television, appearing in the season finale of the HBO series Treme, the Discovery Channel hit After the Catch, and the NBC broadcast of the parade before the Saints’ winning 2010 Super Bowl.
The Soul Rebels have shared the stage with notable artists from many corners of the hip hop, pop and rock world, including Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, The Roots, Arcade Fire, Bootsy Collins, Seal, Robert Plant& Jimmy Page, Counting Crows, Drive By Truckers, James Brown , Allen Toussaint, Chuck Brown, Terence Blanchard, The Gap Band, Dr. John, Better than Ezra and many others.
In January of 2012, the band released its first international album, Unlock Your Mind, on Rounder Records. This new song-driven studio effort includes guest appearances by Trombone Shorty, Cyril Neville, Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli and others.
The Soul Rebels continue charting new territory today, combining top notch musicianship and songs with grooves that celebrate life in the time-honored New Orleans style.