I’m always hearing music from outside my window. I live near a lot of bars, and my downtown has become a sort of motorcycle Mecca in the summertime, so I often hear classic rock or country blasting into my open windows before an open-throttle roar into the dark. It’s usually crap that I tune out, but just now I heard this song.
It’s Let It Whip, by Dazz Band, and it’s one of those songs you know even if you don’t realize it. Even better, it made me think about how fantastic it is that funk is making an oblique comeback in the cultural consciousness.
I heard the bass line echoing through the full row of windows I’ve got cracked open on this balmy 70 degree night in late September, and sprung to attention. It’s one of my favorite funk tunes but I couldn’t place the name. Where did I first hear it? Probably a Grand Theft Auto game, I think. Since you’ve seen the video above, you know the answer is yes.
I’m feeling so thankful for Dam-Funk and his ambassadorship of the entire funk genre. If it weren’t for him, I don’t know if I would have ever taken a leap back into the sounds of Zapp, Cameo, and Funkadelic. The weirdest thing is, once I cracked open these sounds I realized that funk had been with me all along. I’d been living and breathing the familiar beats my entire life, influenced by movies and the radio I’d mainlined as a child, without ever explicitly focusing on the genre as something I’m passionate about.
There’s something inherently cheesy about a lot of funk, and that’s something that a lot of people have to get over before they can engage it head on. Funk is an incredibly earnest genre, and in our current culture that’s kind of an embarrassing, abrasive feeling to convey. It’s the opposite of comfortable detachment, in a lot of ways, and that just feels weird when you’re not used to it. But once you let it in and enjoy it on its own aesthetic and emotional terms, this is music to keep warm to.
Right now, I couldn’t be more glad that I’m a believer in funk. 2015 has been a banner year for the genre, infusing one of the biggest albums of the year from end-to -end with a hard-fought riot-funk edge and being shot into the sky in neon fireworks proclaiming its vitality. The latter was Dam-Funk’s very own Invite The Light, a triple LP that continues to be my most-listened album in months, and the former was the absolutely monumental To Pimp A Butterfly, from Kendrick Lamar. As an independent entity, it might be more of an endangered species among current music genres, but the essence of funk has once again blown fresh life into hip-hop and jazz alike.
EDIT: I seriously hope you clicked that Cameo link above, because the video for Candy is some seriously bonkers hypnagogic dreamstuff. Just watch it, I’m making it super easy:
WOW, right? I thought so.