Release Date: Dec 10, 2013
Record label: Stones Throw
Genre(s): Rap, R&B, Soul, Funk, Left-Field Hip-Hop, Retro-Soul
When Clyde Stubblefield first recorded the two-and-a-half minute drum break on James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” in 1969, he couldn’t have had any idea that he’d just laid down a groove that would help shape an entire genre not even in existence yet. To this day, that infectious rhythm along with Brown’s iconic raspy chant, “Ain’t it funky!” awakens a sense of nostalgia (and likely, an unshakeable head nod or foot tap) in Rap producers, emcees, DJs, and b-boys alike. The ‘80s brought a new era of electronic-infused funk, with acts like Zapp & Roger, Slave, and The Gap Band providing the template for the synth-heavy sound of West Coast Rap in the ‘90s, spearheaded by Dr.
It seems only fitting that Snoop Dogg should return to his G-funk roots following his disastrous foray into reggae with this past spring's Reincarnated. A fellow Angeleno known for his bass-thumping, synth-drenched and electro-clap driven grooves — which are indebted to the underground funk and boogie scenes of the early 1980s — Dâm-Funk are a perfect production foil for Snoopzilla (as Snoop has dubbed himself in tribute to Bootsy Collins). One spin of 7 Days of Funk is proof that the duo are intent on keeping the funk tradition alive, and had a great time doing it.
7 Days Of Funk is by far the best music Snoop Dogg's made in a decade. That's surprising, as lately the D-O-double-G has been more concerned with hawking his routinely awful films and merchandise than with making tracks. A short list of the worst offenders includes the unfunny stoner comedy Mac & Devin Go To High School, the reality show Snoop Dogg's Fatherhood and a smoke-able book of song lyrics.
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.
The album art for 7 Days of Funk is a comic drawing setting a seedy city scene around a theater where, presumably, the music from the album is being played. It was drawn by Lawrence Hubbard, aka Raw Dawg, of Real Deal Comix, an underground, black comic of ‘90s LA. If a Californian hip-hop album with a comic cover makes you think of Doggystyle (and its Joe Cool-created cover), you’re thinking along the right track.
Even after a trip to Jamaica changed his life forever and gave him the permanent name change to Snoop Lion, veteran rapper Snoop Dogg leaves the rasta lifestyle behind and becomes Snoopzilla for 7 Days of Funk, a nostalgic project with modern funkateer Dâm-Funk. Unlike Snoop Lion's reggae effort Reincarnated, which seemed to trip over its own overambition, 7 Days of Funk, the album or maybe EP, is pleasingly loose and small. The short running time means the concept is not not overextended and the welcome is not overstayed, plus the joy that Snoop (words) and Dâm-Funk (music) are feeling delivering these nasty grooves comes right through the speakers.
“This isn't a comedic tribute to talkboxes and widebrims; there's no Snoop Dogg descending a foggy staircase through a faded VHS haze here. ” That's how the last paragraph of my review of Dâm-Funk's Toeachizown kicked off, and in hindsight it's sort of a strange thing to say in the album's favor. “Sensual Seduction” (or “Sexual Eruption”, depending on your comfort level) was a funny throwback showcase on video, but it also clicked big-time as an actual funk song; get past the then-unusual novelty of Snoop as crooner and it's the kind of tribute to 1981 that doesn't sound like an extended eyeroll at the era's expense.
"When I'm recording as Snoopzilla, I'm basically an offspring of Bootsy Collins," says Snoop Dogg of his latest alter-ego (following reggae incarnation Snoop Lion). We've yet to check Jeremy Kyle's paternity tests, but Snoop's claim is a neat enough way of saying that this short collaboration with Dâm-Funk is, well, pretty damn funky. In fact, it's the kind of laidback, space-age funk that can be traced back through Snoop's G-funk roots and all the way back to psychedelic sonic adventurers like Funkadelic.
With hip-hop now decades old and its place in pop culture more paramount than ever, we've entered the strange new era of the fortysomething rapper, and each of the genre's aging superstars is adapting in a different way. Jay-Z is a global brand whose latest album was as much a Samsung commercial as it was art; Eminem seems to have accepted his role as a toothless legacy act of the classic-rock kind. But the most intriguing approach—at least on paper—is that of Snoop Dogg, who was always a versatile performer, but in the last few years has turned downright chameleonic, foraying into reggae as Snoop Lion, dance music as DJ Snoopadelic, and now, as “Snoopzilla,” a collaboration with funk virtuoso Damon “Dâm-Funk” Riddick.
The former Snoop Dogg (here calling himself "Snoopzilla") joins L.A. producer Dam-Funk, whose rubbery tracks are marked by an off-kilter grace more intimate, cooled-out and Californian than his ancestors in Parliament or Zapp. And while Snoop's voice is an easy match for the sound – both are low-key but hard-hitting – most of the tracks don't quite cohere.
It’s very hard to dislike Snoop Dogg. He raps in a laid-back, floaty demeanor that’s hard to cause any sort of scowl. Then there are his contributions to the genre, which have been given a new spotlight thanks to Doggystyle recently celebrating its 20th anniversary recently. The perceived nonchalance of his presence injected a new sense of nihilism to that LP, as well as the canonical The Chronic.
It would be too easy to dwell on the ominous parts of Doe B’s strong 2013 mixtape “Baby Jesus.” There are plenty of them. In the wake of his killing, at the age of 22, on Dec. 28 at a nightclub in his hometown, Montgomery, Ala., listening to those bits takes on new dimension, of course. But darkness wasn’t really Doe B’s game.
The artist most popularly known as Snoop Dogg has reinvented himself once again. His last album, Reincarnated, found the West Coast veteran embracing Rastafarian culture and singing reggae, under the moniker Snoop Lion. This time around, hip-hop’s favorite Uncle (no disrespect to Luke) has dropped the dreadlocks and whipped out his infamous perm, along with his candy blue ’78 Cadillac Coup-Deville.
Collaborations in modern music are pretty much everyday things these days. But every now and again a pairing will come together that has the potential to set the world on fire. And the notion of future funk master Dâm-Funk and the incomparable Snoop Dogg getting down is downright nuclear for longtime fans of California hip-hop. Working for the first time with a singular producer since he and Dr.