Snoop Dogg – as Snoopzilla – and producer Dâm-Funk combine for a record that’s both old-school and intergalactic
There’s been a fair bit of chat about Snoop Dogg returning to his G-funk roots on this mini-album because it comes after his stint in Jamaica, where he reinvented himself as Snoop Lion, got boxed out of his brain on mega-weed and sought a higher calling via the teachings of the Rastafari god, Jah. It was odd – an identity crisis of sorts,
or a mid-life crisis, or perhaps old Uncle Snoop just fancied an innocent adventure of self-discovery, like a gap-year student enamoured of Bob Marley.
In a sense, ‘7 Days Of Funk’ is Snoop coming home – it’s pure LA music – but it’s also him taking off into outer space. His partner for the seven-song record – nine if you include bonus tracks ‘Systamatic’, featuring Tha Dogg Pound, and ‘High Wit’ Me’ – is celebrated multi-instrumentalist and producer Dâm-Funk, who works to a motto of ‘keep it fantasy’, rather than ‘keep it real’ – the implication being that he witnessed too much gnarly bullshit growing up in LA and looked to music to provide an escape. Like Parliament and Funkadelic before him, Dâm-Funk (real name Damon G Riddick) is a composer with an intergalactic touch and for this project he’s not working with Snoop Dogg, gangsta rapper of yore, but Snoopzilla – funk astronaut from the infinite future and cosmic soul brother of Bootsy Collins, aka Bootzilla. On single ‘Faden Away’, he even refers to himself as Snoopy Collins.
Dâm-Funk and Snoopy C set out their stall early. On opening track ‘Hit Da Pavement’, after Snoop’s first verse, a background voice (presumably Dâm’s) can be heard saying, “Daaaaaaaaaam-Funk and Snoopzilla!/Yeah, are searching through time and space to fiiiiiiiiiiiind the funk and reconnect the mothership!” And therein lies the record’s righteous mission.
Dâm is like a professor of R&B. He’s the founder of the Funkmosphere club night, which he set up in 2006 and today remains dedicated to “LA’s totally ignored boogie-funk underground scene”. As a DJ, he schools his audience, shouting out the name of the track he’s playing, its year of release, label and often its cultural importance. As a musician in his own right, he was something of a journeyman until LA indie Stones Throw – home of Madlib and J Dilla – picked him up in 2008 and released both an album of new material in 2009, ‘Toeachizown’, and a retrospective, ‘Adolescent Funk’, the following year.
It’s no surprise that Snoop wanted to work with Dâm. They share a love of Zapp & Roger, George Clinton, Slave, Rick James and Prince and the tracks on ‘7 Days Of Funk’, which are composed by Dâm-Funk and not sampled, are deeply influenced by that era in American R&B. It’s a smooth, buttery, high-summer sound, but heavy, too – big on round, thumping basslines.
Over time, Snoop has become less of a notebook rapper – the kind that continually writes down rhymes and ideas – and more of an expressionist, relying on finding the feeling of a song and then improvising verses and sung choruses.
It’s a hit and miss approach, and there are tracks here, like ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Do My Thang’, that he glides
over, never producing a killer punch. Elsewhere, hired hands help – Slave’s Steve Arrington on ‘1Question?’ and Kurupt on ‘Ride’ – but ‘7 Days Of Funk’ isn’t intended to be a wordy, aggressive album. It’s a groove and a mood piece; a funk report for the ages and the future – and, after less than 40 minutes (including the bonus tracks), it drops out of space at exactly the right moment.