Snoop Dogg and Dam-Funk Take the Ol’ Mothership for a Lazy Spin on ‘7 Days of Funk’
Release Date: December 9, 2013
Label: Stones Throw
Play a drinking game — or, perhaps, a puffing game — where you take a shot (or a draw) at every utterance of the word “funk” on this collaborative album from Damon G. Riddick and Calvin Broadus, Jr., and you’ll catch a buzz from their stage names and the album title alone. From there, dip in anywhere amid these 35 breezy minutes and you’ll soon black out, as each track contains between eight and a dozen utterances of the f-word, while sonically indulging funk tropes from ’70s P- to ’80s B- (that’d be boogie) to ’90s G-.
But for these two Californians — the famous one hailing from Long Beach, the underground one from Pasadena — whose respective careers were built on being both balls- and knees-deep in the stuff, 7 Days of Funk is a return to form for one, a calling card for the other. Snoop Dogg needs no introduction, but Lord, is he ever in need of some rehabilitation. After a wasted decade spent doing tokin’ folk, reggae, country, house, and pop stank-up comedy with the likes of Soulja Boy, Diplo, Craig Robinson, Willie Nelson, Robyn, David Guetta, and Miley Cyrus, it’s not hard to imagine him taking the earliest teaching of Funk Founding Father George Clinton to heart: “If you got faults, defects or shortcomings… funk not only moves, it can remove.”
Dre’s not around to perform surgery, though, so Snoop has to fall back on Dam-Funk’s aromatherapy to remove the stank. That these two hadn’t worked together already is probably a mere scheduling conflict, as ever since Dam dropped the five-LP tonnage of his 2009 debut Toeachizown, the L.A. producer has funked with virtually everyone else: sessions with early-’80s boogie-funk icons like Tony Cook, rappers like MC Eiht, and dance producers like Hudson Mohawke, not to mention West Coast weirdos ranging from Nite Jewel to James Pants to newcomer Benedek (whose latest 12-inch is not to be missed) to Chillwave Founding Father Ariel Pink. With Pink last year, Dam recast the private-press obscurity “Baby” as a lost blue-eyed-soul staple, sounding at once innately familiar yet wholly unknown, and nailing a weeded-Smokey Robinson tenor. At his best, he reconfigures and warps discarded African-American pop forms just as the Haunted Graffiti hijacks golden soft-rock oldies, the sticky-icky to Ariel’s hypnagogic pink slime.
Despite the title and the hastiness of the music within, 7 Days of Funk wasn’t actually recorded in a week. Dam’s beats — cobbled from boogie-funk components like Roland synths, canned handclaps, and Linn drums — wiggle and shimmer, but never quite snap or pop; Snoop (going by Snoopzilla, here, yet also calling himself Snoopy Collins, and hey, anything other than Snoop Lion is fine) need never disable the Autopilot, but at least he sounds comfortable to the point of being prone throughout. Gaseous soul vocals mix with synth-bass flatulence on the notable “Let It Go,” as Snoop repeats decades-old funk platitudes that mask a reconciliation with his lady while Dam injects a noodly guitar solo. Elsewhere, Kurupt, Tha Dogg Pound, and Steve Arrington lend a hand.
The result is not unlike a blunt session: fun while it lasts, even if you can’t remember fuck-all once the synth squelches of “Systamatic” abruptly fade away and the smoke clears. This might not keep Snoop from funking every cringe-worthy studio collaborator in sight, but it does prove that he can jump back on the Mothership anytime he feels like it. If anything, 7 Days acts as the inverse of The Chronic, wherein a famous hip-hop producer introduced the world to an up-and-coming MC weaned on P-Funk and George Duke; now, it’s a pop-cultural hip-hop icon giving a bit of shine to an adept indie producer who can elicit all strains of funk in this 21st-century Zone of Zero Funkativity. It’s not the dank, but breathe deep anyway.