“I will continue to broadcast this message in the event that someone is listening,” sounds the broadcast that opens up Dam-Funk‘s Invite The Light, the follow-up to 2009’s Toeachizown.
“The upheaval suffered by the human race began to occur because our insistence of removing all elements of the funk,” the recording continues, “If we invite the funk, it will never let us down.”
No one will ever accuse Damon Riddick, pka Dam-Funk, of letting us down, and if in the future funk has been eradicated from our musical catalog, it will surely take longer than six years to reach this dystopian reality if he has anything to say about it. Which, of course, he does, in the way of 20-tracks and one hour and forty-minutes of non-stop futuristic funk that would make George Clinton proud. By his own standards, it’s a short burst of output—Toeachizown was a five-LP affair—but it reads like an all-encompassing retrospective of the last half-decade of Funk, including guest contributions and his positive outlook (a future without funk not withstanding).
Those joining Riddick for the ride include Q-Tip, Jody Watley, Nite Jewel, Kid Sister, Slave frontman Steve Arrington, producers Benedek and Computer Jay, Ariel Pink, and Snoop Dogg—a list that itself almost dates the production to the past six years—but one that allows for Dam-Funk to expand on his funk horizons with different avenues. Whether it be progressive synth-pop rock, two-step beats, or a melody that could’ve been ripped from Thriller b-sides, there’s enough to go around, so long as you leave the negativity at home.
While Dam-Funk might have been on a release hiatus, he clearly was busy writing, recording, and tweeting. It’s important to note his Twitter account because it stands out as a positive force on the usually negative social media outlet. In an era of virtual struggle when even our rappers have gone emo, Funk’s greatest asset is his positivity, and his beacon of hope has not been lost in our future funk world. Invite The Light would seem to be imploring listeners to allow this love into their lives, and it’s a theme that surrounds some of the album’s best tracks.
With Q-Tip’s help, he lets us know he’s “just trying to survive” before the ubiquitous “put your hands in the air” followed by, “if you’re just trying to survive!” This sort of line is usually reserved for “Party” or “Scream” or “If you just don’t care,” but never for the concept that we might care too much. Just one of the many hints that Dam-Funk is not only self-aware, he’s very aware of what drives most of our daily existence.
To drive the message home, Riddick does his best Warren G, complimenting Snoop Dogg as he raps on “Just Ease Your Mind From All Negativity”. A message that resonates even before he soulfully suggests that “we find a way to break our negativity.” Maybe it’s because I’m a product of the ’90s, but it this heavy-handed funk I’m most drawn to, and it reaches a literal and figurative climax on the album closer, “The Acceptance”. Unlike the 12-step program, acceptance is not the first step, but the last in the search for a better funk world, and Dam-Funk leaves us on a high note.
There will be those who say it is too long, and admittedly, there were a few times I had to look to make sure it wasn’t the same song from time to time, but in 2015, there’s two things the world could definitely use: More positivity and more funk. Dam-Funk delivers on both.
Invite The Light will be released September 4 on Stones Throw. You can stream it below.