Dam Funk has been the long standing flag bearer for funk on Stones Throw, his output on the label stretching back something approaching a decade. To my ears his boogie jams seemed incongruous at first certsinly when filed alongside the more straight up hip-hop roster the label revolved around back in the late ’90’s. Unlike some such as Funkahoe, Dam-Funk has lasted tgd course, in fact it seems the label has bent to his sound rather than the other way round. Having now released records such as Tuxedo, the synth heavy Minimal Wave compilations as well as the yacht rock and soft funk of The Stepkids it appears that Dam Funk was something if a funk catalyst, bring the funk and electro to Peanut Butter Wolf’s imprint.
With this album Dam Funk is here to bring the funk to everyone. This album opens with ‘Junie’s Transmission’ featuring Junie Morrison of the Ohio Players who warns of the terrible consequences for a world that did not have funk. At this point I think that a word of warning is warranted. People can have preconceptions about ‘funk’; indeed funk can be a misleading genre title. It is a style that has mutated over time – never necessarily a bad thing, but this could lead to misconceptions based on those preconceptions. This isn’t an album of gritty two minute hard fuànk tracks, it isn’t extended JB’s style brass heavy monsters of the kind that made James Brown king of the genre, this isn’t even jazz funk or dance floor jazz in the style of Donald Byrd’s ‘Dominoes’ or Idris Muhammed’s ‘Could Heaven Ever Be Like This’. No this is Dam-Funk.
Dam-Funk’s sound is a ‘modern funk’ take on the genre, clearly influenced by the likes of Slave or Zapp, he also channels Prince – indeed he is a talented multi instrumentalist and increasingly confident singer himself. Dam-Funk also takes in the g-funk hip hop sound, touches of deep house and boogie. Taking allnthese ingredients he creates an experimental, but accessible album. With a running time of over an hour and a half and spread out over a triple album (we are talking vinyl format here), this is a major undertaking. However, as with previous opus ‘Toeachizown’ (5 slices of wax on that) the quality remains high throughout.
There are a few guest spots, a highlight being Q-Tip demonstration that his verbal dexterity isn’t diminishing with age on ‘I’m Just Tryna Survive’, where his flow matches the grooves perfectly. Elsewhere ‘Glyde 2nyte’ is a high class demonstration that Prince comparisons are not hyperbole. His old friend Snoop Dogg (check out their mini album collaboration ‘Seven Days Of Funk’ also on Stones Throw) turns up on ‘Just Ease Your Mind From All This Negativity’. A highlight for me is ‘We Continue’, a further song heralding the triumph of positivity boosted by the squelch and glide of funky synths and a gliding melody.
The only negative is that the album is perhaps let down by its sheer scale. Whilst there aren’t any bad tracks, it suffers on occasion from a slight lack of cohesiveness due to the variety of sounds and different styles Dam-Funk is trying on for size. Running through the various tracks, from the Moodymann-ish ‘OBE’ (which is great), the g-funk moments, an almost chart friendly r’n’b/crossover track and maybe a couple of tracks that tread water, it feels more of a collection of ideas at times. However, it is a joyous listen, and testament to the talent of Dam Funk, one thought is that if he could perhaps concentrate his mind on a focused project he does have the skills to produce something truly special.
As ever, if you like the sound of the album, please buy – don’t steal. This can be bought direct from Stones Throw via their website;
Or from all good record stores, such as Jumbo or Norman in Leeds, Sounds of The Universe in London or online such as Juno.
Norman link above