Who: Los Angeles funk connoisseur Dam-Funk, a one-man wrecking crew of thumping beats, smooth bass and iced-out synths. After honing his craft as a session musician for rappers like Ice Cube, remixing acts like Animal Collective and becoming an MVP on the DJ circuit, Dam-Funk’s debut album Toeachizown has everyone from Southern Cali to Seoul to Tel Aviv hitting the dance floor, literally ruling one giant nation of funk fans under the groove.
Sounds Like: Dam-Funk’s aural odysseys travel from P-Funk to G-Funk through Cybotron and Prince with an undercurrent of the prog-rock that Dam worshipped in his adolescence. On his mammoth debut album Toeachizown, comprised of five EPs he released on Stones Throw in 2009, Dam breaks out something for everyone, from intergalactic dance-funk epics like “Searchin’ 4 Funk’s Future” and “Could I Be Losing Another Lover” to infectious Paisley Park gems like “One Less Day” and “I Wanna Thank U (4 Steppin’ Into My Life).” “I look at Toeachizown as the album I always wanted to hear. Even my friends tell me this, ‘We grew up wanting to hear something like this record,’ ” Dam tells Rolling Stone.
• Growing up in the middle of West Side Pasadena during the West Coast rap explosion, Dam-Funk actually preferred listening to heavy metal and Kiss. “I started playing drums to groups like Rush. I would just put on the Moving Pictures album and play it from beginning to end,” Dam says. “I bought the posters and everything — Iron Maiden, Number of the Beast poster. My buddies would come over and be like ‘What is this? You could at least be into Duran Duran or Depeche Mode.’ ” Still, it’s that early love of prog that continue to permeate into Dam’s music. “I liked the stuff that took you to more of a fantasy world,” Dam says. “I know there’s people like me that just want to ride to some grooves and get deeper into longer songs.”
• Dam, by this time a full-time student of funk, also worked as a session musician for gangsta rap icons like Ice Cube and Mack 10, but it was working in hip-hop that inspired him to go out on his own. “I drove home one night from the studio and said I got something deep down inside I want to express, and that’s this funk. I don’t want it tainted with that whole gangster rap ideology and lyrics on top of the music,” Dam said. The risk has paid off, as Dam has traveled the globe spreading his message. “For me, a guy from Los Angeles to come out and be able to go to Tel Aviv and Seoul, Korea, representing funk is just crazy man.”
• After indulging all his musical desires on the 29-track Toeachizown, Dam promises a more concise follow-up, closer in tone to Prince’s early classic Dirty Mind, but that he won’t rein in his talents next time around. “It’s like when there’s a smart guy in school who’s hella smart in math but he hangs around with the jocks, he’s afraid to admit, ‘Man, I can do algebra so good, but I don’t wanna tell you guys because you guys might laugh,’ ” Dam says. “That’s kinda where I’m at right now. With this album, I didn’t wanna pour too much pepper and salt on people, so the next one, I’m like not feelin’ sorry for anybody anymore.”
Get It Now: The video for Dam’s “Mirrors,” boasting a hook that’ll burrow into your skull, is up top. The limited edition Toeachizown‘s 5LP set is now available over at Stones Throw, along with mp3s of all five chapters of the album. In addition to working on his second album, collaborating with fellow Breaking artists the xx and Nite Jewel and producing albums for funk all-stars like SLAVE’s Steve Arrington, Dam-Funk will bring the party on the road in March accompanied by his live band Master Blazter.