Who Is Dâm-Funk? An Introduction to Snoop’s Newest Partner in Rhyme

By
Share:

Today sees the release of Seven Days of Funk, the gloriously funkified album by Snoop Dogg (or Snoopzilla, as he’s calling himself at the moment) and Flavorwire favorite Dâm-Funk. Snoop clearly needs no introduction, but this is definitely the most prominent release of Dâm-Funk’s career, and one that will doubtless be introducing him to a new audience. For all that his career has been on the up-and-up since signing to Stones Throw in 2008, Mr. Funk has been around for a long time — he started making music way back in 1988, which means there’s a whole lot of early material to explore. Join us for a deep dive into his funktastic back catalog.

Dâm-Funk — “Hope”

Given that Dâm-Funk is a) so prolific and b) something of a music-scene veteran, it’s no surprise that he seems to have a shitload of unreleased material lying about. This is from all the way back in 1990, and was released earlier this year — it shows that our hero’s signature sound was pretty much fully formed two decades ago.

Dâm-Funk — “On the Wings of Funk”

From broadly the same era — this is from 1994, and was also released earlier this year. One of the admirable things about Dâm-Funk’s devotion to his art is how timeless it makes his music sound — the squelching bass grooves and jazz-influenced keyboard lines here could come from pretty much any time since the Dawn of Funk.

Dâm-Funk — “I Like Your Big Azz”

It’s not just Prince’s penchant for using numbers as letters that Dâm-Funk’s adopted; this track (featured on Stones Throw’s Adolescent Funk compilation of Dâm’s early work) sounds like the Purple One jamming with Bootsy Collins. It’s ace, in other words.

MC Eiht — “2 Freak E” (prod Dam.funk)

You may know MC Eiht from his verse on Kendrick Lamar’s “m.A.A.d City,” but he’s another West Coast veteran who’s been making albums for decades. Of particular interest here is his largely forgotten 2001 record Tha8t’z Gangsta, which featured keyboard contributions and production from one “Dam.funk.” The album’s final track, “2 Freak E,” features the most prominent funk sound, which is unsurprising since Dam.funk both produced it and played all the instruments. (Years later, MC Eiht returned the favor with a guest verse on Dâm-Funk’s “Hood Pass Intact.”)

Baron Zen — “Burn Rubber” (Dâm-Funk remix)

Our hero’s career took a turn for the better when he came to the attention of Stones Throw Records overlord Peanut Butter Wolf (apparently after PBW found him on MySpace). His first release for the label was this remix of Baron Zen’s “Burn Rubber,” which furnished the original with Dâm-Funk’s instantly recognizable keyboard and drum sounds.

Dâm-Funk — “Burgundy City”

And finally, in 2008: Dâm-Funk’s debut solo release on Stones Throw, a 12″ featuring this languid funk jam. Things were starting to look up.

Nite Funk — “Am I Gonna Make It”

Long before his work with Snoop, Dâm-Funk was collaborating with other well-known artists, often with thoroughly enjoyable results. In particular, his long-running collaboration with Nite Jewel under the name Nite Funk has been fascinating — and according to their Twitter, there’s a new EP in the works. Huzzah.

Dâm-Funk — “Toeachizown (D-F’s Theme)”

2009 saw the release of the epic double album Toeachizown, which remains Dâm-Funk’s defining work (to date, anyway). This track opens the album’s second disc, and its title also serves as a rather lovely encapsulation of the attitude of its creator, who’s a pleasantly benevolent and zen presence on Twitter and in the media.

Dâm-Funk — “Brookside Park”

Seriously, that liquid bass sound!

Animal Collective — “Summertime Clothes” (Dâm-Funk remix)

I first saw Dâm-Funk play to a crowd of hipsters at an Absolut-sponsored party in Williamsburg a few years back (a party that was headlined by Javelin, of all people. Yech). The first ten minutes or so of his set featured people staring in bewilderment at the outlandish, keytar-wielding figure on stage, but by the end, pretty much everyone was dancing like crazy, and Dâm-Funk himself was in the crowd, inviting people to contribute to the most epic keytar solo you’ve ever heard. The point of this anecdote is that for all that he’s a funk purist, his appeal isn’t limited to those who worship at the altar of George Clinton — as this remix demonstrates.

Dâm-Funk and Snoopzilla — “Faden Away”

And finally, a track off the most excellent Seven Days of Funk. It’s gratifying and heartening to see one of the music industry’s great survivors and generally lovely dudes finally getting the attention he deserves. Long may it continue.