I was fully prepared to type some elaborate introduction about how Mambo Sauce is not just a go go band, and how its long-awaited debut album, The Recipe is truly an evolution of the DMV’s most noteworthy brand of music. While I believe those statements are true, I felt the need to be brutally honest: Mambo Sauce’s The Recipe is the best album I’ve heard all year. Point blank. Period. Although the LP is deeply rooted in go go, it’s much more inclusive than that, as Mambo Sauce successfully blends soul, salsa, hip-hop and rock-n-roll into its melting pot of sound. What cooks up is a delectable portion of musical nourishment, suitable for listeners of all kinds and light years beyond the standard click-clack of yesterday’s go go.
Go Go music has been used sporadically by others and has not caught on nationally. E.U., known mainly for its song “Da Butt,” experienced some mainstream exposure in the 1980s. Jill Scott utilized the sound on the single, “It’s Love,” from her debut album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1. Most recently, The Roots fused go go with hip-hop on the single, “Rising Up,” from its last year’s Rising Down album. That song included Wale, a rising star from the DMV region who has blended go go into some of his work. With The Recipe, Mambo Sauce aims to make the music universal. But don’t just take my word for it. “We saturate all forms of music in this go go foundation, and we make it all original, what a hell of a creation,” Mambo Sauce vocalist Black Boo says on “Letter to Go Go,” the album’s intro.
The Recipe continues with the high energy “Welcome To D.C.,” which serves as a musical tour guide for those unfamiliar with the city’s history. On this song, Black rhymes about D.C.’s fashion (Madness hats), “or how the city re-named cigarettes ‘jacks,’ or how, even the mayor had a run-in with crack, but we all kept it real and we voted him back.” The fervor continues on electric guitar-tinged “Long Time Coming,” where Black and vocalist Joi “JC” Carter sing about surviving life’s obstacles and moving past negativity.
The pace slows somewhat on the sincere and heartfelt, “Things Will Get Better,” which features DMV native Deangelo Redman from Diddy’s “Making the Band” show. This track is about staying the course when life gets rough. On “Work,” punctuated by the full-fledged go go jam session at the end of the track, Black weighs a potential relationship against advancing his career.
“No Sleep” is the album’s centerpiece, in my opinion. From musical director Chris Wright’s first tap of the keys to Jermaine “Pep” Cole and Patricia “Twink” Little’s percussion, this song is hard-edged rock with the message of hustling until you have nothing left to give. “Sweet Baby” is a dedication to the world’s single mothers. The Recipe never lags, and by album’s end, Mambo Sauce hits hard with the “Welcome to D.C. Remix,” which features Wale, Tabi Bonney, Don Choo and Big G.
Although Mambo Sauce has generated a definite buzz in the DMV, The Recipe has the potential to catapult the group to worldwide commercial appeal. Go go has always been specific to the District, but it seems that Mambo Sauce is trying hard to break the music out of its regional shell. Either way, the group has prepared a delicious treat, and The Recipe has the right recipe for success.