THIS HAS BEEN the year that rap and dance music established their dominance of the pop marketplace. So it's only fitting that the year should wind up with two big parties by young rap, go-go and dance artists. Eleven different R&B acts (Toni! Tony! Tone'!, Salt-N-Pepa, the Poor Righteous Teachers, Pleasure, Hi-Five, Samuelle, Troop, D.J. Kool, Father M.C., Trouble Funk and Chuck Brown) provide the music for a "Holiday Jam" at Capital Centre Sunday, and the go-go group E.U. hosts the New Year's Eve party at the 9:30 club Monday.
Hi-Five "Hi-Five" (Jive/RCA). This Texas quintet of 15- to 17-year- old boys is the latest group to follow in the bubble-gum soul tradition of the Jackson 5, New Edition, the Force MCs and New Kids on the Block. Hi-Five is the best since the Jackson family, for not only do the youngsters sing and rap with appealing vibrancy, but their producer/songwriters have given them some songs that actually tackle the issue of being "Too Young." That song, from the Brooklyn jazz brothers Carl and Jean-Paul Bourelly, captures the frustration and resentment of being told you're "too young" to act on your own opinions. Teddy Riley's "I Just Can't Handle It" describes the mixed feelings of fear and desire when a 16-year-old boy gets involved with a 25-year-old woman. Just as likable are the sweet, swooning puppy-love ballads.
E.U. "Cold Kickin' It!" (Virgin). The new album from Washington's best known go-go band feels like a betrayal. Just a year after releasing "Livin' Large," the funkiest, most consistent go-go studio album ever made, E.U. comes back with this wimpy effort that owes more to Lionel Richie than to James Brown. Instead of hard rhythms to kick "Da Butt" into motion, this album emphasizes smooth, soothing arrangements of love songs, background music for an adult-contemporary station. Even the alleged dance numbers have a muted, muffled sound.
Ivan Goff "Featuring Chuck Brown" (Goff). E.U. keyboardist Goff produced this low-budget studio/live album featuring go-go patriarch Chuck Brown on guitar and vocals. Opening cut "Misty" is another of Brown's inspired funk reworkings of jazz standards; Goff plays the Erroll Garner piano part and then the Jimmy Smith organ part, as Brown scats to his own hot guitar parts. The rest of the album takes a romantic soul ballad, a reggae dancehall song, an anti-violence rap number and a tribute to Bart Simpson and similarly transforms them all into an inspired mix of stylish jazz chops and irresistible funk, with help from E.U. hornman Bennie "Scooter" Dancy. Despite the shoddy packaging, this is one of the best albums to come out of Washington this year.
Salt-N-Pepa "A Blitz of Salt-N-Pepa Hits -- The Hits Remixed" (Next Plateau). These three female rappers from Long Island have taken the 10 hits from their first three albums and presented them in remixed versions. One of those hits is last year's collaboration with E.U., "Shake Your Thang," which gets minimal reshaping by the trio's regular producer, Hurby Luv Bug. As a greatest-hits collection, though, this album nicely sums up rap's best female act; from the salacious "Push It" to the feminist anthem "Independent," the three rappers not only demand respect as women but they back up the demand with clever rhymes and beats.
D.J. Kool "The Music Ain't Loud Enuff" (Creative Funk/SOH). D.J. Kool has worked as a club disc jockey all over Washington and has done remixes for go-go bands like Little Benny & the Masters. On his second album, he displays his gift for creating a great dance-club sound -- go-go jams treated with a house-music big-bass bottom. Unfortunately, he's not much of a songwriter, and the album is one long blur of sound-alike music without any specific, memorable songs. Moreover, the album feels like a home movie as he chats with his producer, thanks his friends and assures his fans that the long wait for the new D.J. Kool album is over. You can stop holding your breath.
Father M.C. "Father's Day" (MCA). When M.C. Hammer samples old soul songs, the samples always upstage the rapper, but when Father M.C. samples Cheryl Lynn's "I'll Do for You" and Rufus's "Tell Me Something Good," the New York rapper holds his own with a deep tenor voice reminiscent of Rakim. Reasonably free of misogyny, Father M.C. comments on romantic relationships with a no-nonsense street philosophy that cuts through the game-playing and advises both sides to "Treat Them Like They Want to Be Treated." The lean, bass-heavy production is seductive, and Father M.C. is a gifted vocalist, maintaining a thick, authoritative tone even as he hits the beats.
Samuelle "Living in a Black Paradise" (Atlantic). Samuelle, the original lead singer for Club Nouveau, has reunited with Club Nouveau producers Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy for this conservative but likable collection of pop-soul songs. Samuelle has a fluid, friendly tenor, and Foster and McElroy supply him with some catchy melodies, especially on the title tune. The result is an utterly conventional but well-executed collection of romantic soul.