Studio !K7’s long-running DJ-Kicks series has always been a great opportunity for artists to show off their tastes, often far broader than their own music implied. It was a chance for your favorite indie rock band to say hey, we listen to hip-hop and early drone music too! But the most interesting sets always did something more powerful.
For his entry, Dam-Funk offers a free fall down the rabbit hole of his own work by exploring artists that sharply reflect the edges of his own productions. It feels like an archeological dig into the distant past and unknown present, unearthing insight into a man whose work seemed to have sprung out fully formed so many years ago.
To put it in more prosaic terms, Dam-Funk use this platform to teach us about the sound world that comprises his idea of modern funk. As he’s said before, his sound is a combination of “funk, boogie, electro, house, modern-soul, ambient tones… a push and pull of nostalgia and progressiveness…” With this set, he makes those words tangible reality, folding in a mixture of well-known and underground artists with his own collaborations and solo work. The result flies alongside Moodymann’s similarly funk-infused DJ-Kicks release from last winter, all warm boogie and booming heart.
The track list includes artists like Moon B, Gemini, Crystal Winds, and my favorite discovery, Gaussian Curve, along with a solo number called Believer and another grand Nite-Funk collaboration (with Nite Jewel, aka Ramona Gonzalez), Can U Read Me?. Nearly everything in this set was new to me, which made it an especially compelling mix to explore.
Beyond the codified realm of funk, this mix explores ambient jazz, far-out electro, starbound soul, and a host of other sounds that orbit near Dam-Funk’s generously inclusive definition of boogie. It’s a ticker-tape of moods from a consummate master of the form, owing to his time behind the wildly popular Funkmosphere events in Los Angeles. In a place called The Virgil, he’s been showing off his DJ chops and sharing his vast musical knowledge with lucky audiences for years.
While I’m still parsing out the building blocks of this set, I’m blown away by the deep reverence with which he treats the original tracks. Each piece is allowed the time to fully breathe, given plenty of space to unfold before lightly transitioning into the next track. It’s a relatively hands-off approach, but Dam-Funk’s unmistakeable fingerprints appear all over the 80 minute collection. He is, after all, sharing a slice of the gauzy world he retreats into when he’s not releasing music of his own. I’d expect no less from the vanguard of modern funk.
Since it’s released on Bandcamp, you can listen to the entire mixtape streaming here: