The city of Long Beach has given the world many great things, not least of which being the G-Funk sound. Pioneered by Long Beach natives Daz Dillinger, Warren G, The Dove Shack, and DJ Battlecat, and popularized by Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound, and ultimately Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre, G-Funk articulated the feeling of an ocean breeze flowing through the east side of the city by layering red satin smooth funk inspired bass and synth lines over hard boom bap beats for slick MCs to rap over.
While local producers like Ahwlee have been continuing the legacy of Long Beach G-funk by heavily referencing the sound, and L.A. rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Y.G. frequently play with recreating and pointing towards G-funk, even local rock bands like Rudy De Anda seem to draw from the g-funk well, even if their sound is nowhere near G-funk, the style, tone, and tempo of G-funk seems to live on in the air in Long Beach. Which is why it comes to no surprise that Long Beach electronic Cavalier on his debut album on Alpha Pup records entitled Innate, carrys that same strain of G-funk, even when it reaches far beyond it.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the last decade of American electronic music, Alpha Pup Records, along with Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder record label, have been essential in championing the L.A. beat scene of the past decade. Centered around the Low End Theory club in Lincoln Heights, the L.A. beat scene, led by Flying Lotus, Samiyam, and Long Beach’s very own Dibiase, and many other DJs and producers, combined the slap and directness of instrumental hip-hop music, with the texture and experimentalism of British electronic music, to create a sound that swept through underground clubs and internet forums throughout the world. While the scene itself has fractured and somewhat died down, it’s wake of influence still can be heard, especially in the music of Cavalier.
On the opening track to Innate, entitled “Inward,” Cavalier starts with an introspective, nocturne, grand piano chords that lead straight into fluttering arpeggiated synth lines that are anchored by glitchy, subtle, footwork bass drum kicks. Inclusion of Cavalier’s own fashionably distorted wordless crooning in various points of the song, where the beat drops below a mellow guitar strum, adds a definite grounding to the electronic theatrics. It’s an intricate composition, but even with all its intricacies, there’s a breezy g-funk soul to it, just lavished with a lot of electronic ornamentation.
Tracks deeper into the album like “Empathy” further play with the legacy of G-funk by sampling a definitively 70’s sounding, Isley Brothers-esque, guitar lick, and pushing it into hyperdrive with panned uptempo drums, 808 bass thumps, and an EDM fervor. But it’s tracks like “Mortal” that really cement the album. Assisted by vocalist Jeff Bernat, Cavalier slows the electronic lightworks down, and crafts a R&B slow jam for the EDM generation, filled with gentle Fender Rhodes chords, cooly swooning electric guitar strokes, and tastefully textual electronic sound design effects that you can imagine both Nate Dogg and Dibiase digging.