Have you ever looked into a Kaleidoscope? Your curiosity lingers in your body like a worm greeting wet soil on a cloudy day. As your eyes begin to squint in a focused nature, you are then greeted by an array of vibrant colors and altitudes of majestic beauty. What makes the gadget so interesting is that it manages to express the notion that reflected colors, compiled together in an effortless way, can create something pure and magical!
Music is the kaleidoscope of sounds. As you focus your heart, just like your fragile eyes pressing against the tiny hole of wonder, you recognize contentment and magnification. This feeling is shown heavily in the master of music Thundercat’s latest album–It Is What It is.
Purrr with Thundercat!
Born into a family of music, Stephen Lee Bruner (better known as Thundercat) had music seeping through his blood stream since the dawn of his arrival on planet earth. By the age of 15, Thundercat had a minor hit in Germany as a prominent member in the boy group “No Curfew”. In 2002, Thundercat replaced bass player Jon Paul in the crossover Thrash band, “Suicidal Tendencies” until his departure in 2011.
Crossover Thrash is a mixture genre of thrash metal and hardcore punk. In the early 1980s, “thrash” was used to categorize hardcore punk. Bands such as “D.R.I” became monumental figures for thrash bands. After this journey, the young musician ventured into a new realm of music. With similar texture and animation to “Earth, Wind and Fire” and to the sweet smoothness of Bill Withers. The Los Angeles native has further made a name for himself as an intellectual geek of music. Intelligently tackling the world of the intricate sounds of Funk, Acid Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, Soul and Electronica, Thundercat stands no boundaries as he continues to tour the world, playing in cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam, Portland, and Prague!
Listen to Thundercat’s NPR Tiny Desk Performance Now!
Funk is a music genre that originated in African American communities in the middle of the 1960s era. Extended chords found in Bebop Jazz, Funk centers around the danceable energy and rhythmic groove of drums, electric bass, electric guitar, bass synthesizers and other rhythmic components that give birth to a “hypnotic” sensation.
With a heavy influence of original Jazz stylings, Acid Jazz (or club jazz) is a music genre that incorporates Jazz, Soul, Funk, and Disco. Originating in the London club scene in the mid-1980s, Acid Jazz spread to parts of the world such as the United States, Brazil, and Eastern Europe. Through producing, singing, and songwriting, the Funk prince has released four solo albums.
Thundercat gained mainstream fame through his collaboration with Flying Lotus for his appearance on Kendrick Lamar’s (rapper) 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly. The 2016 Annual Grammy Awards awarded him the honor for the Best Rap/ Sung Performance for his track “These Walls”, featured on the rapper’s notable project.
Where is my DragonBall Z Durag?
I keep holdin’ you down, Even though you’re not around
Heartbreak hits like a ton of bricks, all wrapped up in guilt and shame. As it violently bombards your heart, your throat feels the overwhelming sensation of swelling as it becomes a sponge inhaling the tears away. When your heart feels this massive rush of emotions, it is sometimes hard to make sense of reality, or even come to grips with what is happening all around you.
In September 2018, rapper and fellow friend of the indie scene, Mac Miller, lost his life in a tragic accidental drug overdose. It shook a core in the music industry. “So hard to get over it. I’ve tried to get under it. Stuck in between. It is what it is.” As the world copes with the loss of the talented specimen, Thundercat pays homage in the sensitive track “Fair Chance”. The compelling album title “It Is What It Is” finds its way into the lyrical content, expressing that although we can’t change the past, you cannot erase the hurt it causes currently. “My emotions. Give me a sip of that potion. No, my heart is not broken. But I feel like it’s open”.
There is nothing that feels better than unmeasurable intimacy. There is this gravitational pull between two individuals that almost makes time halt in its systemic pace. Your pulse becomes one as you melt into each other and can almost feel the heartbeat of mother nature. The vivacity souls produce isn’t just physical. Emotionally speaking, intimacy can be presented when two entities allow vulnerability to awaken and peak its head out of the covers of insecurity and anguish. The vocal stylings of Thundercat creates this smooth notion that comfortability can be expressed in various ways. Thundercat paints this level of energy in a vibrant arcade-infused comical track called “DragonBall Durag”.
The musical genius has managed to create a tasteful emotional drink and bottle it with ease and perfection. I was introduced to Thundercat a few years prior with his album Drank in 2018. The album flowed and smoothed out my daily life in an effortless, non-conforming way, which cause me to sink into the mindset of a true “fan girl”. The attention to musical detail in all of his songs gives listeners something to discover each time they are serenaded by rhythmic poetry. However, judging from his past material, It Is What It Is is a perfect album title.
With a 7 out of 10, the project is superb in elements surrounding musical interpretation and story. Unfortunately, sad to say, it isn’t his best project. The album feels slightly rushed, which is off balance with his previous albums. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that the listener will connect to some content on the project simply because its Thundercat! He will never truly disappoint. If you find yourself needing an empathic period of solitude, Thundercat can carry you into stillness.
Photo: Shutterstock / edited by: Martina Advaney