Go-Go Mickey Freeman has become a Washington DC legend, known for his fast hands on congas and his raw beats that have become a staple for many area conga players. Freeman won “Conga Player of the Year” in 2006 at the first Go-Go Awards presented by Washington DC radio station WKYS, and again in 2007. In addition, Freeman has won two individual “Wammies” from the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) and five awards as a member of Rare Essence along with a spot in WAMA’s Hall of Fame.
Mickey was born and raised in Washington, DC by a musical family. His mother was a pianist and singer and his father was a guitar player and lead singer. Go-Go Mickey’s father bought him a drum set when he was two and taught the young prodigy how to play.
Sheila E. inspired Freeman along with DC legends Jungle Boogie and Ricky “Sugar foot” Wellman. He joined Reality Band in 1980 and followed that with stints in Redds & the Boys, Ayre Rayde, and several other go-go groups, before joining Essence in 1984.
Mickey released a solo, instrumental album on Liaison Records in 1991 titled “It Gets no Rougher”. In 2008, he created No Rougher Productions. Freeman has played with several R&B and Hip Hop acts including Prince Markie D, Heavy D., The Roots, Doug E. Fresh, Teddy Riley and more recently Raheem DeVaughn. He has also played with the godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown and reggae band Soljah’s of God’s Army, who he still plays with from time-to-time.
Freeman has played on numerous Rare Essence live and studio albums and performed on Chuck Brown’s hit 2007 album “We’re About the Business.” With Rare Essence, Freeman appeared with rapper Ludacris for performances of his hit song “Roll Out” on the Jay Leno Show. Rare Essence and Freeman appeared again with Ludacris at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards performing the song "Pimpin’ all Over the World". He also appeared in Aretha Franklin’s “Jimmy Lee” video.
Go-Go Mickey was with Rare Essence for 28 years. He can now be seen performing five nights a week with Familiar Faces at venues throughout the DC area. When he is not performing, Freeman is likely to pop up at local venues to catch other go-go bands and can often be persuaded to get on stage to play conga. Freeman enjoys playing in church and teaching percussion. Currently, he is working on a project with his sons Mickey and BJ.