A funk outfit formed in Jersey City, NJ, the Kay-Gees had some valuable mentors in Kool & the Gang — specifically Ronald Bell, who was happy to serve as producer, arranger, and sometimes songwriter for his younger brother Kevin’s band. In addition to Kevin Bell on guitar and several other instruments, the Kay-Gees featured keyboardist Kevin Lassiter, saxophonist Peter Duarte, brass player Ray Wright, woodwind player Dennis White, bassist Michael Cheek, drummer Callie Cheek, and percussionist Wilson Beckett. The group was known for their unique blend of funk, soul, and R&B, which helped them to become one of the most popular bands in the genre during their heyday.
Signed to Kool & the Gang’s own Gang imprint, they issued their now-classic debut album Keep on Bumpin’ & Masterplan in 1974. With Ronald Bell penning the majority of the material, Kay-Gee’s’ sound was highly similar to the hard, tight grooves of early Kool & the Gang; singles like “You’ve Got to Keep on Bumpin’,” “Who’s the Man? (With the Master Plan)” (yes, the source of that ubiquitous hip-hop sample), and “Get Down” gave them an enduring reputation among hardcore funk connoisseurs. Keep on Bumpin’ & Masterplan had all the deep, driving grooves, kinetic energy, and street-corner vibes of funk’s master outfit, while their horn section was equal to Kool & the Gang’s. One of the great party funk LPs of the 70s, Keep on Bumpin’ & Masterplan took James Brown’s syncopated rhythms and added a sense of orgiastic, P-Funk abandon to create a new kind of party groove.
They also had a hit with the single “Hustle Wit’ Every Muscle,” which became the theme song for the TV series “Party.” By the time of 1976’s Find a Friend, Ronald Bell’s involvement with the group had begun to decrease, resulting in a flirtation with disco on cuts like “Find a Friend” and “Waiting at the Bus Stop.” Their final album, 1978’s Kilowatt, was a full-fledged disco-funk extravaganza released on New York’s De-Lite label, and featured several popular club singles, including “Cheek to Cheek” and “Tango Hustle.” However, they disbanded not long afterward.