Thundercat released his new album It Is What It Is on Brainfeeder Records on April 3, 2020. The album, produced by Flying Lotus and Thundercat, features musical contributions from Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox.
It Is What It Is follows his game-changing third album Drunk (2017). That record completed his transition from virtuoso bassist to bonafide star and cemented his reputation as a unique voice that transcends genre. “This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says about It Is What It Is. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”
The tragic passing of his friend Mac Miller in September 2018 had a profound effect on Thundercat and the making of It Is What It Is. “Losing Mac was extremely difficult,” he explains. “I had to take that pain in and learn from it and grow from it. It sobered me up… it shook the ground for all of us in the artist community.”
Comedy is an integral part of Thundercat’s personality. “If you can’t laugh at this stuff you might as well not be here,” he muses. He seems to be magnetically drawn to comedians from Zack Fox (with whom he collaborates regularly) to Dave Chappelle, Eric Andre and Hannibal Buress whom he counts as friends. “Every comedian wants to be a musician and every musician wants to be a comedian,” he says. “And every good musician is really funny, for the most part.” It’s the juxtaposition, or the meeting point, between the laughter and the pain that is striking listening to It Is What It Is: it really is all-encompassing. “The thing that really becomes a bit transcendent in the laugh is when it goes in between how you really feel,” Bruner says. “You’re hoping people understand it, but you don’t even understand how it’s so funny ‘cos it hurts sometimes.”
Thundercat forms a cornerstone of the Brainfeeder label; he released The Golden Age of Apocalypse (2011), Apocalypse (2013), followed by EP The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam featuring the modern classic “Them Changes.” He was later “at the creative epicenter” (per Rolling Stone) of the 21st century’s most influential hip-hop album Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, where he won a Grammy for his collaboration on the track ‘These Walls’ before releasing his third album Drunk in 2017. In 2018 Thundercat and Flying Lotus composed an original score for an episode of Golden Globe and Emmy award winning TV series Atlanta (created and written by Donald Glover). For his latest album, Thundercat took home the Grammy Award for Progressive R&B Album. And in a truly full-circle moment, he contributed an original song for the reboot of anime he took his name from, Thundercats.