Amidst the untimely demise of Prince, I’ve listened to very little that can’t be described via some shade of lavender. The primary exception has been the Dam-Funk DJ Kicks record, the equivalent of this year’s DJ Koze DJ Kicks — i.e. the mix that makes every conventional album seem comparatively pallid.
I’ve written about Dam’s music too many times that I’m out of adjectives. If you don’t live in LA, you might not understand. His songs and his mixes intuitively convert the sunlight and wind into neon synthesizers and asphalt drum machines. Dam-Funk’s music sounds like a Palm looks or when Sunset exhales onto PCH and the ocean emerges laced with diamond clusters. This is a cliche in its own right, but Dam’s genius lies in his ability to undermine cliches, and resurrect an entire genre that most consigned to the graveyard.
The DJ Kicks doubles as the classic driving album, like all Dam albums, like most great LA records. But it also exists as an overlooked lesson in LA and funk history, with the army of Uncle Jamm co-existing alongside forgotten funk records from Nicci Gable and Randell and Schippers. These aren’t curios included for cratedigger points, but unsung classics that remind you that someone is always overlooking something. They overlooked Dam for two full decades, and this mix exists to remind you how foolish that was.
Other artists in the modern funk constellation come forward: Henning, Reggie B, Moon, Nite Funk (a collaboration with Nite Jewel), and of course, some of Dam’s solo material. “Believer” is the first leak from the album that drops May 27, nearly eight minutes of iridescent groove, gliding with an effortless locomotion that’s both perfectly natural and precision mastered. One of my favorite things released this year, and the best kind of Prince tribute — something that refracts his inspiration into an entirely new tint.
Pre-order the DJ Kicks here.