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Dam-Funk, “Invite the Light” Review

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By: Treavian Simmons

Music Reviewer

dam-funk

Artist: Dam-Funk

Album: Invite The Light

Label: Stones Throw Records (https://www.stonesthrow.com/)

Release Date: September 4, 2015

Website: https://soundcloud.com/damfunk

Damon Riddick, better known as Dam-Funk, has been building up the legacy of funk since the ‘90s, even as the mainstream accessibility of the genre has waxed and waned. Upon the release of his solo work in the 2000s, he had already established his ability and aesthetic through production for other artists. His work then culminated in his signing to Stones Throw in 2007 and the release of his funk opus, 2009’s double album Toeachizown. Toeachizown solidified his musical voice, gliding through funk and its adjacent genres (house, g-funk, electronic, hip-hop, etc.) with ease, and after great collaborations with Steve Arrington (Higher) and Snoop Dogg (7 Days Of Funk), he has finally released his second proper full length album, Invite The Light.

Invite The Light isn’t for the groove weary. Much like Toeachizown, Light coasts on mood, production, and the funkmosphere it creates throughout. Dam-Funk conceptually touches on everything from perseverance through life (“We Continue”) to being harshly impacted by a former lover’s choice in men (“Howyougonf*ckaroundandchooseabusta?”). These changes in lyrical and instrumental (in the case of the 8-minute smooth ride that is “O.B.E.”) modes of musical journey are reflected directly by Riddick’s choice in production. His drums are always thick and grounded; his synths float ethereally above everything, leaving ample space for guest vocalists and his own musings alike. In addition to his consistency, he keeps the album afloat due to his incorporation of various genre touches, as well as his sheer determination to keep the funk going.

Much like his recent collaborations, Light thrives most when he invites other vocalists along for the trip. Two highlights, “I’m Just Tryna Survive (In The Big City)” with Q-Tip and “Acting” featuring Ariel Pink represent Dam-Funk’s ability to keep the funk steady while still acknowledging current sounds. The former meshes an almost Flying Lotus-lite loop flawlessly with Dam and Q’s vocals, while the latter incorporates slight touches of Pink’s psych-pop into funk flourishes. The album is balanced by these reaches into other genres, all while retaining Dam’s clear mode of musical transport.
While funk may never reach the apex it arrived at in the ‘80s, artists like Dam-Funk are keeping the genre alive by innovating as much as they retain the core tenets of funk sounds. Invite The Light isn’t a light listen, and at over an hour in length may be too much for those deterred by time-consuming albums. For those in the know or willing to find out, however, Invite The Light is a gloriously funky ray of sunshine into the historic genre’s past, present, and future.

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