Last week, I went to the VMAs for Spin. When you cover a spectacle of such grotesque neon magnitude, it forces you to grapple with the idea of stardom. Everyone on-stage is more famous than we can comprehend — they are the only thing that makes me believe Mitt Romney when he said that corporations are people too. You are not human when you are that famous because you have no authentic interaction. You are not kept honest. Even your art is decided by market forces and committees of producers, executives, and songwriters. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few. That’s not to say that I don’t love “Rack City.” I do. But it will never mean anything to me beyond entertainment.
This idea is at the core of what Dam-Funk’s talking about in “I Don’t Wanna’ Be a Star.” This is the modern funk version of EPMD’s “Crossover.” It’s about making it on your own terms and not having to alter anything for anybody. That’s rare and when it occurs, it feels special. Very few musicians don’t want to be stars and I wouldn’t blame Dam if he did. He didn’t “make it” until well into his 30s and he couldn’t be faulted for wanting to play catch up. Instead, he releases music at a furious clip, Soundcloud leaks, CD maxi-singles with Prince covers and instrumental tracks. All of them stay true to both his original vision and its continuing evolution. He is keeping it real for all of us sinners out there.
The video from “I Don’t Wanna Be a Star” is below the jump — taken from the EP of the same title out now on Stones Throw. And if you’re at a newstand, pick up my Wax Poetics cover story on Dam, if you’re into that sort of thing.