This week we are features a playlist from the Funk Lordz themselves Chromeo. ‘Funk Lordz Radio’ is sort of like a primer to hold us over as they work on a new album. Currently, the playlist is circling ~80 tracks, and I must say, after a solid Sunday afternoon of listening, there is some straight heat in here thanks to Dave and Pee. From Rhyze and Dynasty to Empress and Kim Covington, you get a sense of where their musical influences stem from, and this might be a bit of foreshadowing of things to come from their forthcoming album.
MUSIC MONDAYS – GET TO KNOW THE FUNK LORDZ
World leaders, powerful CEOs, and assorted other fat cats could learn myriad lessons from Chromeo, but the number one tip that Dave 1 and P-Thugg have is this: Know thyself, know thy vibe, and stay thy course. The rest of the population will catch up. What this means is that Chromeo is really good at being Chromeo. The mission, the package, the vision—it’s been a straight shot of pure intentionality from the jump. These Chromeo dudes? They have the whole being-these-Chromeo-dudes thing totally wired.
And with the benefit of blessed hindsight, we can all see now that Chromeo stuck to it with the natural doggedness of the soulful heirs that they are. Funk a game plan—these guys had a ten-year battle strategy. When they released their first album in 2004, Rick James was still the Antichrist to all but the enlightened. Fast forward to today, and ‘80s funk—which makes up a major part of Chromeo’s DNA—is all over the charts.
So it’s the perfect time for a fresh dose of the real stuff and—lo and behold—Pee (still looking a smooth criminal in a Coogi) and Dave (ever the Semitic/Gallic heartthrob in tight pants) are back. We are officially on the cusp of the Canadian funk lords’ fourth album’s release. It’s called White Women and it’s a doozy. As a work of cultural theory, it posits that we are living in a post-nostalgia age. All previous genres and styles of music now coexist within a singularity of moves and gestures. (Ouch, sorry, got possessed by a cultural studies prof. for a second there… but the foregoing is true of Chromeo, just FYI.) More importantly, as pure entertainment, White Women perpetuates and elevates Chromeo’s existing blueprint: sexy funk, ass-targeting beats, melodic honey, and smart lyrics about the foibles of contemporary love.
Dave 1’s words continue to turn urban music clichés on their heads. On “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)”, a Chromeo crossover comet if there ever was one, our arch antihero witnesses his ex in the arms of other guys… wearing the jacket that he bought her. Conversely, the pristinely produced “Over Your Shoulder” is a paean to the insecure. You’re all beautiful, ladies, is the message; don’t even sweat that body-image noise. And “Sexy Socialite” is a warning to the highhanded party girls of the early twenty-teens. Check yourself, sayeth Chromeo.
White Women is the band at its most ambitious, with both the pop and the muso elements of Chromeo pushed into the red. On the hooky side, we’ve got instant classics like the soaring “Come Alive” and the pulsating “Frequent Flyer” which offer moments that would make Hall & Oates and Wham green with envy. On the crate-digger side, Dave and Pee employ an unprecedented analog arsenal that would make Kraftwerk drool. Mtume’s female vocalist croons on more than half the album. Steely Dan’s string conductor pops up on the progressive album closer “Fall Back 2U.” Try all that on for size, nerds.
But for all that 80s talk, White Women, more so than any other Chrome-opus, is firmly grounded in pop’s present. It features some stellar cameos, too. Solange belts it out with Dave 1 on “Lost On The Way Home,” Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend contributes the piano-led, heartstring-pulling intermezzo “Ezra’s Interlude,” and Toro y Moi dives into the undiluted electro-funk of the aforementioned “Come Alive.”
2014 happens to be the Year of the Horse, which makes sense because Chromeo are about gallop in on shining white steeds to delicately trample all of us with their sublime sound. The weather is perfect; the water is warm; the people are waiting. Here comes White Women to remind everyone else just how this shit is done.