For some, the funk is inescapable, and multi-instrumentalist, talk box artist, and production wizard Diamond Ortiz is one such lifer. His musical output reveals both the deep impact the genre has had on him creatively and his passionate desire to keep pushing the style forward.
Bulletproof, Ortiz’s seventh full-length release and his third for Bay Area-based Needle to the Groove Records, is his most complete musical statement yet, further solidifying the direct lineage to the music he represents. Ortiz may have made a name for himself as a music industry secret weapon on talkbox, but his music as a solo artist — which he typically writes, records, arranges, produces, and mixes himself — shows he’s equally skilled at all other aspects of the creative process.
On his latest, Ortiz expertly showcases his songwriting and studio expertise, peppering the varied sounds on his ten-song set with a thoughtful addition of diverse layers. You’ll hear anthemic choruses that recall the best of boogie’s early ‘80s heyday, slow-burners that sound like GAP Band sitting elbow-to-elbow in studio with Egyptian Lover, and new-school slaps that can still trace their sonic DNA back to old-school architects Zapp and Funkadelic.
A-side closer “Fantasize” has already made a splash digitally, becoming Ortiz’s most streamed song on Spotify. Featuring soaring guest vocals from Reality Jonez, the infectious album highlight reveals Ortiz’s ability to craft air-tight hooks and freaky basslines. Side two party-starter “Baby Doll” holds a deep pocket despite its mid tempo, recalling an early 90s Prince influence. Ortiz carries the album home with “West Coast Bounce,” adding his stamp to West Coast classic “West Coast Poplock” by Ronnie Hudson & The Street People, famously interpolated by 2Pac and Dr. Dre on G-Funk anthem “California Love.”
Seduced by the sounds he heard while listening to his older brother play alongside sessions players from Sly & The Family Stone, Tower of Power, and Funkadelic, Jeremy Diamond-Ortiz was an early convert to the funk and soon started playing bass for his family’s homespun funk band. After gaining plenty of stage time within the Bay Area funk scene, Ortiz dropped his solo debut, Loveline, in 2016 on MoFunk Records. His expert musicianship has made him an in-demand session player for Interscope Records, where he’s collaborated with Snoop Dogg, Green Lantern, Nipsey Hussle, Kamaiyah, Lil Rob and Zapp.
As a true believer of the street funk sound he represents, he’s a relevant torchbearer for a new generation of electronic funk, synth-funk, boogie, hip-hop, g-funk and R&B, with Ortiz poised to stand at an intersection between classic funk and its many future directions. Bulletproof’s limited run will include 100 copies pressed to yellow vinyl, 100 pressed on clear vinyl, and 300 on black vinyl.