Few producers in the game have as adept a grasp of Funk like Dâm-Funk. The L.A. producer cultivated underground fame in the 2000s before catching the attention of Stones Throw’s Peanut Butter Wolf. Ever since then, he’s been trailblazing the indie circuit, first as a master remixer, and now as a go-to producer, receiving adulation along the way from notable Hip Hop veterans like Pete Rock and Snoop Dogg. Speaking of Snoop, their collaborative 7 Days of Funk was an acclaimed success that seemingly brought Dâm overnight fame. Building on that buzz, Invite the Light is his first solo release in five years, sure to bring even more well-deserved attention and hype.
With 20 tracks and a runtime of almost 100 minutes, Invite the Light is as complex as it is dense. It’s a deeply immersive Funk experience and a musical tour de force. That said, it is not for the laymen, and though it is filled with plenty of groovy numbers, it also requires a seasoned and patient listening ear. For better or worse, there is little consistency, whether it be the sound or track length.
Had he the same recognition in the ‘90s that he has now, it isn’t inconceivable that Dâm-Funk would have been working with Tha Dogg Pound and other West Coast cliques. He has an incredible ear for music, drawing on dozens of different artists for inspiration; too many to even begin naming. Invite the Light is an amalgam of different Funk-inspired sub-genres that achieves incredible diversity of sound, from new age Disco (“Surveillance Escape”), to G-Funk (“The Hunt & Murder of Lucifer”), to the simply uncategorizable (“Scatin’ (Toward The Light)”). Further, the multi-track layering of each beat speaks to his meticulous mastering processes. “‘Kaint Let ‘Em Change Me,” for instance, has several different synth tracks stacked on top of each other, with extra sounds carefully spliced in via the drum machine. When the music is good, it’s really really good.
However, the aforementioned lack of consistency occasionally interrupts the moments of greatness. For one, Dâm-Funk is a producer, not a songwriter, so he doesn’t have to devote the same kind of attention to lyrics as he does to beats. Though, maybe he should. Some songs are too repetitive lyrically, which affects replay value. “Just Ease Your Mind From All Negativity” is a nearly 7-minute number featuring Snoop that starts off as hot as can be. Unfortunately, his verse ends at the one-minute marker, leaving Dâm to occupy the remaining time. His lyrical contributions are catchy, and he does a decent job keeping the beat vibrant, but listener interest piques too quickly without sustaining. Lyrics aside, the same critiques apply to some of the beats as well. “O.B.E.” is eight minutes long, with little-to-no variability or movement. Moments like these can make the 20-track song list seem like a daunting proposition.
Yet for all of its peaks and valleys, Invite the Light is unlike anything else out right now. If Kendrick Lamar helped resurrect G-Funk with To Pimp A Butterfly, then Dâm-Funk is both simultaneously piggybacking on and deviating from the movement with something uniquely his own. Few producers in the game boast similar originality and creativity, which makes Invite the Light a refreshing new album for 2015 and beyond.