M.O.B. was a northeast Washington, D.C. band that enjoyed popularity from 2003 to 2008. I am meeting today, Jan. 2, 2013, with Yung Swagga, M.O.B.’s sole congo and tomboles player. This introduction will be intertwined with the interview because the author is somewhat ignorant to the history of this band.
Me: How did this band come together in 2003?
Yung Swagga: The frontline (the microphone front leaders) came together with the goal of initiating the band. Two frontline members knew the current drummer for TCB, Mark Block. At the time Block was playing with Universal Band and after much discussion, Block left Universal and joined M.O.B as a drummer.
Me: I understand the congo and tomboles are also percussion instruments. So how does your role come in and how many percussion artists did M.O.B. have?
Yung Swagga: At the time of the formation of M.O.B., I was a hype man for a band called Undefined but at the time I was learning how to play percussion instruments. Undefined disbanded in 2004 and M.O.B’s manager, Ronald “Rome” Robertson, approached me and asked if I could play tomboles as a permanent member.
Me: And history was made…so how was your run with M.O.B? Was it profitable? Did you enjoy yourself?
Me: I understand that 2005 then was both victorious and tragic for you. Would you care to elaborate on that?
Yung Swagga: One night we had a show at Club Gee’s on Bladensburg Rd. The show was cancelled. So, we parted ways and the lead frontline person, Tinko, went back home to Kenilworth and was shot that night.
Me: Was he fatally shot?
Yung Swagga: No, but it caused severe brain damage. He could walk and talk but he lost his memory temporarily.
Me: What happened to M.O.B. after the loss of Tinko?
Yung Swagga: We knew he wanted us to continue on so we did. We already started but the first two years from 2003 to 2005 we were just warming up, building a fan base. It was too short a period of time in 2 years to just stop.
Me: How did the band change or evolve?
Yung Swagga: Our lead singer, Sexy Steve, played both roles and became the lead talker too. He changed the sound of the band.
Me: How so?
Yung Swagga: Tinko was more hood wid it and Steve was more love song oriented.
Me: Did that change the audience?
Yung Swagga: Well, we still played Tinko’s music. But Steve attracted more women to our shows. He dedicated his music to the female audience. And another change was that in 2006 we made a studio CD called “The Hitmaker.”
Me: So that was 2006. Where did the CD sell?
Yung Swagga: P.A. Palace in Iverson Mall and Forestville Mall and Kemp Mill Records in Marlow Heights. It also had major downloads from the go-go media websites, gogocentral.com, papalace.com, and myspace.com
Me: Wow, that’s impressive. But from the time of the major CD sales to 2008 when the band disbanded was such a short period of time, what caused the break up?
Yung Swagga: It wasn’t fun anymore. People were expecting Tinko to come back. Rumors were spreading that he would and when he didn’t the audience started to fall off. Band members individually decided to go to other bands or pursue solo projects.
Me: So now what have you been doing artistically since 2008?
Yung Swagga: I joined Trouble Funk for 6 months as a congo and a tomboles player. After that I played for CCB for two years.
Me: So from 2010 to now, what have you been doing?
Yung Swagga: Pursuing my dream to rap as a solo artist.
Me: I really liked what I heard this afternoon in your single, “Shake Just Ah Lil.” How long have you been writing music?
Yung Swagga: Thank you. I’ve been writing songs since I was 10 years old.
Me: I love the song “Shake Just Ah Lil.” The beat is very uptempo and reminded me of a Soldier Boy hit. It is perfect for either the regular dance club or the strip club .
[The composition of “Shake Just Ah Lil” demonstrates the musical expertise and experience of Yung Swagga. It has an extremely youthful sound with a hype beat produced by B. Cartier punctuated by the voice of a small child repeating the title of the song, making up the hook. This immediately creates a mood of fun and you can’t wait to hear the lyrics. Well composed, Yung Swagga comes in early on the hook so the listener does not get bored waiting for the song to begin.
Check the lyrics, “She got a body of a model but she dance like a stripper. Every time I hit the club up, I tip tip her. When I’m at the bar, I sit wit her. Big booty Judy, it ain’t hard to miss her. Now drop it to the flo, now that’s a good picture. And if I throw a party, you should bring your friends wit u. 18 to party, 21 to drink.”
These lyrics scream club promotion like no other. In keeping with his history of percussion rhythm making, Yung Swagga is also able to ride the rhythm lyrically as well. As the beat speeds up, so does he. Also demonstrative of his history of rocking a club, he doesn’t kill us with too many choruses. We get two solid choruses each with 14 to 15 verses. The hook runs just long enough at the end with attention-grabbing ad libs to keep the girls dancing.]
Listen to the song for yourself and see if you agree with me…
Now back to the interview…
Me: Have you completely abandoned percussion instruments?
Yung Swagga: Yes, I got tired of it. (laughing) The popular beats now are just bounce beats. When I played, the single uni-bomber sound was popular.
Me: Explain the difference between the two from the player’s perspective.
Yung Swagga: The uni-bomber sound was more laid back. Maybe 5 hits per instrument every 2 seconds. But the energetic bounce beats require at least 10 beats every second. (Choppa Black of Da Reaction Band is in the background demonstrating. Yung Swagga and Choppa are in the next image.)
Click the following link to see Yung Swagga hittin a slower beat on Backyard Band’s “Pretty Girls”. Only D.C., my city, can bring it to you like this folks.
Now compare what you just heard to this much faster bounce beat. While you’re watching, imagine keeping this up for 2 hours straight and that’s if you’re lucky enough to share the stage with another band that night. Here, Yung Swagga bangs out TCB’s “Oh Yes”.
Now back to the interview.
Me: Ahhh, I get it! That is tiring and a lot of work.
Yung Swagga: I’m not ungrateful though because it demonstrates the creativity of D.C. Giving props to Polo the man who started the bounce beat. Look where it’s brought us!