To say the g-funk that helped propel Snoop Dogg to fame in the early ’90s influenced the retro-futuristic grooves that Dam-Funk has been crafting for years would be slightly disingenuous. But it would kind of make sense. They share a common DNA, and hearing them come together on 7 Days of Funk makes that abundantly clear.
Really, they are off-shoots of the same source material. While Dr. Dre and Snoop paired down the excesses of ’70s and ’80s funk and slicked it up with hip-hop beats for mass consumption, Dam-Funk kept busy stretching it out and contorting it in to even headier, trippier realms. As different as their music has generally been, their extremely specific common influences, along with Dam-Funk’s unquestionable musical pedigree, mean that they gel perfectly. So perfectly, in fact, that upon first listen it feels weird to think that anyone might expect the pairing to be anything but smooth.
During the opening moments of opener “Hit Da Pavement”, the album isn’t just smooth, but exciting; it feels like a track off of the classic follow-up to Doggystyle that never really came. Snoop (performing here as Snoopzilla) feels totally comfortable as an elder statesmen returning to his old stomping grounds, with his voice as compulsively listenable as ever and gelling perfectly with Dam-Funk’s pitch-perfect update of Dre’s g-funk blueprint.
It’s a shrewd opening gambit, as it is easily the track here that hues closest to Snoop’s past classics. After that things take an expected left-turn. He never abandons those effortlessly slick bars, but Snoopzilla increasingly brings out his solid if unremarkable croon, a singing voice that won’t knock anyone to the floor but suits the vibe here perfectly. Dam-Funk, meanwhile, begins to mine vaults deeper and further removed from the present for inspiration. Such is the intricate knowledge and love of these two for the music they are emulating, though, that it still feels seamless.
“Faden Away” is real, grown-up funk music, Snoop ruminating on a relationship grown old over a writhing bass line and glacial chords. Along with the bouncy celebration of romantic contentment “Let It Go”, it shows that this is no gimmicky vanity project a la Snoop Lion; this has arrived with relatively minimal fanfare and clearly stems from a love of the music he and Dam-Funk are making here. Instead, it sounds more like the sound of Snoop growing old gracefully in real time, accepting his veteran status by indulging in an old genre of music he clearly feels passionate about. It suits him to be well and truly one half of a duo, too; Dam-Funk’s presence is as heavy as Snoop’s, and it is his exquisitely crafted grooves and melodies that really keep the momentum up and the quality so high.
7 Days of Funk isn’t just a muse and a neutered Dogg reveling in their old age, though; the album is supremely laid-back and, for lack of a better word, fun. The aforementioned “Faden Away” doubles as a classy party jam; “Do My Thang” once again updates g-funk and imbues it with hitherto unattained heights of musicality; and “Ride” offsets its Sunday-afternoon bounce with a catchy get-high chorus, a Kurupt verse and Snoop’s rapped instructions to “rip the bong slow, hoppin’ & hoppin’ in the blue ‘64”.
Right down to Snoop’s Bootsy Collin’s referencing new moniker, the gonzo album artwork and the breezy album length, 7 Days of Funk feels like a conscious reference to Funkadelic and Parliament’s ’70s classics. Musically it succeeds effortlessly. It doesn’t sound too much like them; Dam-Funk is too out-there to simply recreate his influences. But what it does sound like is two veterans having the best time ever, having a go at emulating the music of their youth. This would be interesting under any circumstances; the fact that it winds up being such a great, enjoyable listen is just even better.
4 out of 5
You can purchase 7 Days of Funk on Amazon.