Thundercat | Feature

Flying Lotus Kamasi Washington Kendrick Lamar Thundercat

Stephen Bruner has one of the most consistently impressive music careers in the modern age. Not because of his anime loving, funkadelic public persona, or his industry ties, but because he served as one of the most exotic touring musicians in the 2000s, and now a prolific session musician in addition to his solo project. In between touring with Suicidal Tendencies and Snoop Dogg, Stephen Bruner recorded with Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus, befriending the latter, to then evolve into his final form in 2011 with the debut of Thundercat’s’ ‘The Golden Age of the Apocalypse. Thundercat would continue to tour and record with Flying Lotus, appearing on all of his records between 2010 – 2015, to then release his follow up record ‘Apocalypse’ in 2013.

This is where Bruner meets his true network of contemporaries (all of which will be getting an article) and begins yielding his iconic 6 string bass like a battle axe and delivering the most intricate bass playing I've seen in the industry. He is first approached by Flying Lotus, as he has a Jazz artist on his independently run ‘Brain feeder’ label looking for a bass player on his upcoming album. The artist was Kamasi Washington and the album was his 2015 opus, ‘The Epic’. That album needs no introduction, it serves as a near-perfect benchmark for Jazz that has inspired a new generation of Jazz fans (Kamasi article coming soon). In the same breath, all three (Kamasi, Thundercat and Flylo) were approached by Kendrick Lamar to compose on ‘To Pimp a Butterfly. All three have placed on the album, whether that be Kamasi’s crisp instrumental on ‘u’, or Flying Lotus producing opener ‘Wesley’s Theory’, but Thundercat appears most prominently out of the three, as he features on the opener alongside his idol and funk god, George Clinton. Thundercat also is responsible for the bass on hit ‘King Kunta’ alongside several other tracks on the record alongside production credits and vocals.

Thundercat’s input on the record is immense. He is one of the several backbone talents that comprised one of the greatest records of the last decade. With the recording process serving as a musical equivalent of the Colombia Exchange, Thundercat’s talents flourished, which is no more evident than on his third record ‘Drunk’, which sees all his ideas on concepts finally develop into a realised series of almost vignettes dabbling in quirkiness and incredible songwriting alike. Whether that be his standout, Flylo produced ‘Them Changes’, or more low-key moments such as ‘Lava Lamp’ or ‘Show You the Way’ with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins.

From this point we see Thundercat continue to solidify and expand himself within the industry, becoming a grounded and consistent talent. His latest release ‘It Is What It Is’ serves as an expansion of Drunk in him delivering a more mature and concise album than its predecessor, aiming to further his perfection in balancing the holy trinity of Funk, Soul and now Jazz more than ever. See the hilarious, Zack Fox directed ‘Dragonball Durag’ video, or his funkadelic talk show performance of 'Black Qualls' to see just how far Stephen has come

Thundercat is one of the most reliable stars working today. He covers all his bases seamlessly whether that be a solo artist, industry figure, social media star or session musician. His name deserves to be heard and known, now more than ever.

Featured Albums: Thundercat

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