Rare Essence

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Rare Essence
Origin Washington, D.C., United States
Genres Go-go
Years active 1976–present
Labels Groove Records, PolyGram Records,Uptown/MCA Records, Sounds of the Capital Records, Rare One Records
Associated acts Familiar Faces, 911, Proper Utensils,Godfather and Friends, Lil Benny and The Masters, Essence Legends
Website http://www.rareessence.com/

Andre(Whiteboy)Johnson, James(Jas.Funk)Thomas, Charles(Shorty Corleone)Garris, Leroy(RB)Battle Jr, Michael Baker Calvin(Killa Cal)Henry, Quentin(Shorty Dud)Ivey, Kenecia(Keke)Taylor, Samuel(GoGo Smoke)Dews Kenny(Kwick)Gross

Past members Quentin "Footz" Davidson[1]
Meshell Ndegeocello[2]
Anthony "Little Benny" Harley

Rare Essence is an American go-go band from Washington, D.C.


From Foundation to 2000

The band developed when four childhood friends: Quentin "Footz" Davidson, Andre "Whiteboy" Johnson, Michael "Funky Ned" Neal and John Jones decided to form a go-go band. After school, the four young musicians gathered together to play top forty hits from such influential bands as Parliament/Funkadelic, Cameo, and Confunkshun in basement practice sessions.

Eventually the band took on more players and conformed to the go-go style and sound, which started in 1976. It is important to note that although the go-go beat had been established by Chuck Brown, the characteristic four Congo style played by all subsequent bands was created by Rare Essence.

Many of the bands original members contributed to the DC style, one would go on to be one of the most dynamic and influential performers on the go scene. Anthony Harley "Lil Benny" was on the way home from his weekly trumpet lesson when he heard the sound of a band coming from a nearby apartment building. After a brief audition,in which he performed the intro to Kool & The Gang's "Hollywood Swinging", he was asked to join on the spot. Soon after, the band called on the assistance of Quentin's mother, Annie Mack, who became the band's first manager.

Once the direction of the band was settled, Rare Essence along with Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk and Experience Unlimited formed the basis for the emerging go-go scene. By 1979 their ability to draw consistent local crowds was well established. As was the wide dispersal of bootleg tapes.

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

Rare Essence accomplished noteworthy successful 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, the president of Uptown Records, signed the group through Sean Combs, a song on the "Strictly Business" soundtrack was the result.

In 1999 Rare Essence had some controversy basis that their song “Overnight Scenario” which was copied by Jay-Z in the song “Do It Again (Put your hands up)” and was the first single from 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.[3] 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 was very concerned about the copyright infringement that seemingly took place. Jay–Z’s defense was that go–go music is just remakes of other artists’ songs.

In 2009, Rare Essence performed at one of the inaugural balls. In 2012, the group collaborated with the Soul Rebels Brass Band during a Tribute to Chuck Brown on June 21, 2012 in Washington DC at the historic Howard Theatre which is re-opened in April 2012. Slick Rick was also on the tribute show.[4]

Notable Members

Quentin(Footz)Davidson was murdered on September 17, 1994. He was 33 years old.

Band member Anthony Harley (Little Benny) died on May 30, 2010 in Washington, D.C. He was 46 years old.[5]


  1. ^ Jeter, Jon (1994-09-20). "Go-Go music pioneer Footz Davidson is found shot to death on P.G. road". The Washington Post. p. b.04. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  2. ^ Wiltz, Teresa (2005-06-19). "Meshell Ndegeocello Breaks Step With Pop". Washington Post. pp. N01. .
  3. ^ “More money, more problems”.the411online.com.Date accessed: May 10, 2011.
  4. ^ "Soul Rebels at the Howard Theatre". Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed May 2010

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