Until now, Dam-Funk and Nite Jewel compromised an informal union that produced the occasional permanent summer jam, but never found the time to record the album that would formally assert them as Nite Funk. When two solo artists combine, sometimes it takes a minute to figure out what the sound is. At first, it was Killer Mike + El-P, then they figured out exactly what Run the Jewels needed to become. The same goes for Nite Funk, whose new EP drops next week on Dam’s nascent Glydezone Recordings imprint.
In many ways, the aesthetic has been gestating since their first collaboration, 2009’s “Am I Gonna Make It.” But whereas their early attempts reflected two DIY artists at an early stage of their careers, Nite Funk combines their experimental streaks with the polish that comes from doing this professionally for nearly a decade. Dam’s sound has taken technicolor detours through smooth modern funk freeway cruises, extraterrestrial spaceship flights, a celestial Steve Arrington album, and the occasional trip to the LBC to serve a gritty platter to Snoop. Nite Jewel has balanced underground pop, silken collaborations with the spawn of E-40, and the occasional forays into freestyle and disco. All of these influences are distilled into the whole of Nite Funk, but the project feels distinctly its own.
The team-up feels like a lost gem on Prelude Records or Solar, two of the main labels that inspired Dam’s early volitations. But like the new YG album, it feels like funk refracted through a contemporary lens, focused on love, individuality and the perils that plague the pairing of those two ideas. The first single, “Let Me Be Me” almost sounds like something Michael Jackson would’ve recorded between Off the Wall and Thriller — a levitating and shimmering slab of post-disco pop built for BBQs from now until 3030. Yes, there is a keyboard solo, and it is blazing.