Thundercat (musician)

Last updated
Thundercat
Thundercat (26638128678).jpg
Thundercat performing in Sydney (2018)
Background information
Birth nameStephen Lee Bruner
Born (1984-10-19) October 19, 1984 (age 36)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Instruments
  • Bass guitar
  • vocals
  • guitar
  • keyboards
  • drums
Years active2000–present
Labels Brainfeeder
Associated acts
Website brainfeedersite.com

Stephen Lee Bruner (born October 19, 1984), [2] better known by his stage name Thundercat, is a bassist, singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, California. First coming to prominence as a member of crossover thrash band Suicidal Tendencies, he has since released four solo studio albums and is noted for his work with producer Flying Lotus and his appearance on Kendrick Lamar's critically acclaimed 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly . [3] In 2016, Thundercat won a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Performance for his work on the track "These Walls" from To Pimp a Butterfly.

Contents

Music career

Born into a family of musicians, Bruner began playing the bass at an early age: by 15 he had a minor hit in Germany as a member of the boy band No Curfew. A year later he joined his brother Ronald Jr. as a member of the Los Angeles punk band Suicidal Tendencies, replacing former bass player Josh Paul. Bruner's earliest studio album appearances include playing electric bass on Kamasi Washington's Live at 5th Street Dick's and The Proclamation . [4]

Along with his band duties Bruner is also a session musician, acclaimed for his work on Erykah Badu's New Amerykah (2008) and Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma (2010). He released his first solo album in 2011, The Golden Age of Apocalypse , which featured production from Flying Lotus, and was influenced by 1970s fusion artists such as Stanley Clarke and George Duke. The next two years saw a return to the recording studio with fellow Brainfeeder artist Flying Lotus, with contributions to the Lotus's Until the Quiet Comes (2012) and You're Dead! (2014), and the release of Thundercat's second album Apocalypse (2013). [5]

To Pimp a Butterfly

Bruner has been described as being a major contributor to and "at the creative epicenter" of Kendrick Lamar's critically acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly . [6]

Along with the involvements with previous artists, Thundercat draws inspiration from jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Mary Lou Williams and Ron Carter. Through this, he is frequently able to renew elements from old soul, funk, and jazz albums. Known as "digging in the crates", this method is best used to bring the sound, feel and emotion he wants to convey in his music. An example of this can be heard on his EP released in 2015 titled The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam . The EP's most popular track, titled "Them Changes", also shares this creative renewal element. "Them Changes" contains a drum sample from the 1977 track "Footsteps in the Dark" by the Isley Brothers, the same sample used in Ice Cube's "It Was A Good Day".

In 2016, Bruner revealed to XXL that he is working on a new album with Flying Lotus as a main contributor. In May of that year, Bruner appeared live with Red Hot Chili Peppers to play additional bass on their song "Go Robot" at iHeartRadio's release party for the band's 2016 album The Getaway . In August 2016, Bruner appeared live with singers Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald in Chicago.

Drunk

In June 2017, Thundercat appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote his studio album Drunk with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. [7]

It Is What It Is

In October 2018, Thundercat premiered the song "King of the Hill" from his then upcoming album It Is What It Is . [8] [9] The second single, "Black Qualls" featuring Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, and Childish Gambino was released on January 16. [10] Another single, "Dragonball Durag", was released on February 17. [11] It Is What It Is released on April 3, 2020 and was met with critical acclaim. [12] Thundercat dedicated the album to friend and frequent collaborator, Mac Miller. [13]

Personal life

Thundercat identifies as a Christian, and incorporates many of the religion's themes in some of his music. [14]

Discography

Related Research Articles

Robert Glasper American jazz pianist, arranger, record producer, and songwriter from Texas

Robert Andre Glasper is an American pianist and record producer. He has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and has won three Grammys and one Emmy Award. His 2012 album Black Radio won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album at the 55th Grammy Awards. His 2014 album Black Radio 2 was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album at the 56th Grammy Awards. The song "These Walls", on which Glasper plays keys, from Kendrick Lamar's album To Pimp A Butterfly won Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 57th Grammy Awards. The soundtrack for the film Miles Ahead, for which Glasper was a producer, won Best Soundtrack Compilation at the 58th Grammy Awards. The song "Letter to the Free", written with Common for the Ava DuVernay documentary 13th, won the 2017 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.

Flying Lotus American electronic music producer

Steven Ellison, known by his stage name Flying Lotus or sometimes FlyLo, is an American record producer, musician, DJ, filmmaker, and rapper from Los Angeles, California. He is also the founder of the record label Brainfeeder.

Austin Topper Peralta was an American jazz pianist and composer from Los Angeles, California. He was the son of film director and Z-Boys skateboarder Stacy Peralta.

Ronald Bruner Jr. is an American jazz drummer, composer and producer.

Miles Mosley

Miles Mosley is an American vocalist, upright bassist, composer, arranger, and music producer from Hollywood, California. He was named after Miles Davis.

Terrace Martin American musician

Terrace Jamahl Martin is an American musician, rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor from Los Angeles, California. He is perhaps best known for producing records for several prominent artists in the music industry, including Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, The Game, Busta Rhymes, Stevie Wonder, Charlie Wilson, Raphael Saadiq and YG among others. Martin is a multi-instrumentalist, whose music production embodies everything from funk and jazz to classical and soul. Martin recently released his sixth studio album Velvet Portraits on his newly formed label, Sounds of Crenshaw Records, through Ropeadope Records.

Kamasi Washington

Kamasi Washington is an American jazz saxophonist, usually playing tenor saxophone.

<i>Youre Dead!</i> 2014 studio album by Flying Lotus

You're Dead! is the fifth studio album by American music producer Flying Lotus, released on October 6, 2014 by Warp Records. Flying Lotus recorded the album at his home in Los Angeles, using Ableton Live and other instruments and software. Like his previous two albums Cosmogramma and Until the Quiet Comes, You're Dead! features extensive contributions from Thundercat, who plays bass guitar on nearly every track and provides vocals on several. It also features guest performances from Angel Deradoorian, Niki Randa, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, and Thundercat, along with Captain Murphy, Flying Lotus' rapper alter ego.

<i>To Pimp a Butterfly</i> 2015 studio album by Kendrick Lamar

To Pimp a Butterfly is the third studio album by American rapper Kendrick Lamar. It was released on March 15, 2015, by Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records. The album was recorded in studios throughout the United States, with production from Sounwave, Terrace Martin, Taz "Tisa" Arnold, Thundercat, Rahki, LoveDragon, Flying Lotus, Pharrell Williams, Boi-1da, Knxwledge, and several other high-profile hip hop producers, as well as executive production from Dr. Dre and Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith. Guest appearances include Thundercat, George Clinton, Bilal, Anna Wise, Snoop Dogg, James Fauntleroy, Ronald Isley, and Rapsody.

"Never Catch Me" is a song by American music producer Flying Lotus from his fifth studio album You're Dead! (2014). The song features vocals from American hip hop recording artist Kendrick Lamar. "Never Catch Me" received a nomination for Best Dance Recording at the 58th Grammy Awards.

"Alright" is a song by American rapper Kendrick Lamar, taken from his third studio album To Pimp a Butterfly (2015). Lyrically a festive song about hope amid personal struggles, it features uncredited vocals from the song's co-producer Pharrell Williams during the chorus. "Alright" was released to radio stations as the album's fourth single on June 30, 2015. Most music publications considered it among the best songs and videos of the year, highlighting their message in the social context of the time. "Alright" received four nominations at the 58th Grammy Awards: Song of the Year, Best Music Video, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, winning the latter two. It was also nominated for a MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year.

The Blacker the Berry (song) 2015 single by Kendrick Lamar

"The Blacker the Berry'" is a song by American hip hop recording artist Kendrick Lamar. It was included as the thirteenth song on the track-listing of his third studio album To Pimp a Butterfly (2015). "The Blacker the Berry" was released as second single from the album on February 9, 2015. The song shares its title with the novel The Blacker the Berry by American author Wallace Thurman. The track produced by Boi-1da, Terrace Martin, and KOZ. It has a chorus that features from Jamaican artist Assassin. The album version also contains additional vocals provided by neo soul singer Lalah Hathaway. Upon its release, "The Blacker the Berry'" received rave reviews from contemporary music critics. However, its also elicited controversy due to Kendrick Lamar's commentary on the death of Trayvon Martin. In the United States, it peaked at number sixty-six on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The single has since been certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

<i>The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam</i> 2015 EP by Thundercat

The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam is an EP by American musician Thundercat. It was released on June 22, 2015 via Brainfeeder.

<i>Untitled Unmastered</i> 2016 compilation album by Kendrick Lamar

Untitled Unmastered is a compilation album by American rapper Kendrick Lamar. It was released on March 4, 2016, by Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records. It consists of previously unreleased demos that originated during the recording of Lamar's album To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), continuing that work's exploration of politically-charged and philosophical themes, as well as its experimentation with free jazz, soul, avant-garde music, and funk styles. The compilation album received widespread acclaim from critics, and it debuted atop the US Billboard 200.

Josef Leimberg is a producer, lyricist, and trumpet player from Los Angeles. He contributed to Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp a Butterfly, and is currently signed with World Galaxy, the jazz imprint of Alpha Pup Records.

<i>Drunk</i> (Thundercat album) 2017 studio album by Thundercat

Drunk is the third studio album by American musician Thundercat. It was released on February 24, 2017 by Brainfeeder. It features guest appearances from Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and Pharrell. It is his first studio album in nearly four years, his last studio album being Apocalypse. Drunk received positive reviews from music critics. A ChopNotSlop remix from OG Ron C, DJ Candlestick, & The Chopstars entitled 'Drank' was released as a special edition purple vinyl record.

Thundercat discography

The discography of American musician Thundercat includes 4 studio albums, an extended play, and 12 singles.

"Feel" is a song by American rapper Kendrick Lamar, from his fourth studio album Damn, released on April 14, 2017. The fifth track on the album, the song was written by Lamar and Mark Spears, a.k.a. Sounwave, and produced by Sounwave. The song features bass from bass guitarist Thundercat and vocals from Chelsea Blythe.

Marlon Williams is a hip-hop guitarist and producer from Los Angeles. He is best known for his work as musical director for Snoop Dogg. He helped launch the careers of Terrace Martin and Kamasi Washington by inviting them to tour and record with Snoop. He has also recorded with Nate Dogg, Warren G, Kendrick Lamar and The Pollyseeds, and was an early member of Fishbone.

<i>It Is What It Is</i> (Thundercat album) 2020 studio album by Thundercat

It Is What It Is is the fourth studio album by American musician Thundercat, released through Brainfeeder on April 3, 2020. It was preceded by five singles: "King of the Hill", which was released as a single from the label's compilation album Brainfeeder X in 2018, "Black Qualls", "Dragonball Durag", "Fair Chance" and "Interstellar Love", the latter four being released in 2020. The album was executive produced by the lead artist alongside Flying Lotus, and features guest appearances from the likes of Louis Cole, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, Childish Gambino, Ty Dolla Sign, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, BadBadNotGood, and Zack Fox. The last track from the album, also named It Is What It Is, contains a vocal sample from the late Mac Miller that can be heard in the mid-track. The album is also dedicated to him.

References

  1. Newman, Jason (August 22, 2011). "Thundercat's Acid-Jazz Apocalypse". MTV News. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  2. "The Birth of Stephen Bruner". California Birth Index, 1905 - 1995. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  3. "Rising: Thundercat | Features". Pitchfork. 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
  4. "The Proclamation: Kamasi Washington". Discogs.com. Discogs.com. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  5. Kellman, Andy. "Apocalypse - Thundercat : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
  6. Weiss, Jeff. "Meet Thundercat, the Jazz-Fusion Genius Behind Kendrick Lamar's 'Butterfly'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  7. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (2017-06-06), Thundercat ft. Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins: Show You the Way , retrieved 2017-06-06
  8. "Thundercat - It Is What It Is. Vinyl LP, CD. Bleep". Bleep.com. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  9. "Thundercat (feat. BADBADNOTGOOD & Flying Lotus) - 'King of the Hill'". YouTube. 2018-10-30. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  10. "Thundercat - 'Black Qualls (feat. Steve Lacy & Steve Arrington) [Single Version]' (Official Audio)". YouTube. 2020-01-15. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  11. "Thundercat - 'Dragonball Durag' (Official Audio)". YouTube. 2020-02-17. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  12. "It Is What It Is by Thundercat Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic . Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  13. "Thundercat comes up for air". EW.com. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  14. https://www.passionweiss.com/2017/04/23/youve-gotta-laugh-to-keep-from-crying-an-interview-with-thundercat/#:~:text=Thundercat%3A%20Absolutely%2C%20man.,understand%20everything%2C%20what%20it%20means.