Pull the Plug
On Higher, two generations of funk team up to attempt something truly special. Steve Arrington began a musical career decades ago that put him behind the wheel of several hits and put his sound at the center of numerous hip-hop songs in the future. Dam Funk has been pumping out funk records on Stonesthrow in L.A. for the past several years. A modern artist joining forces with a musical legend. It’s one of those classic archetypes that almost always makes for great music. It couldn’t possibly be bad, right?
It couldn’t possibly be more disappointing. Look up the word “boring” in the dictionary, and there just might be a picture of Higher. It’s tough to tell what went wrong here, but from the opening “I Be Goin Hard” to the finale “Crazy in Here,” this is a record that goes nowhere and does nothing. Every song has the exact same electro-funk sound that is smooth and polished, but completely dead. There is none of the excitement that is found in Dam Funk’s awesome live shows, nor is there any of the vitality that made Arrington a hit in his prime. Songs fade in on tight drum machine loops and fade out on wavy synth lines. Arrington wanders through the album with vocals that have no real purpose. The record spins on and on like this for much too long, and then it’s over. Nothing has happened and you’re in exactly the same place you were at when you started.
Higher sounds like the warm-up to a record, not the spectacular album it should be. It’s as if Dam Funk looped a few tracks for Arrington to talk and sing over, went out for lunch, and accidentally released the goof-off sessions as his new album. It might be accurately called a “smooth” record for its classy production, but it packs no punch whatsoever. It repeatedly talks about how funky it is and you’re expected to believe it. This is comatose funk on life support after a car crash. It’s flat, predictable and downright boring. What happened?