Thundercat – It Is What It Is

thunderGoddamn … I mean … goddamn! This is a good album.

If you’re new to Thundercat, that sucks. But, hold up, it’s not too late. He’s right here. There’s still time. Aren’t you so fucking lucky! “Outrageously talented”, would be the quickest summation I could give the 35-year-old jazzhead Stephen Lee Bruner. Because the better Stephen gets, the more outrageous he seems to become. Either that or, mayhaps, that distinct style and humour of his helps guard him from the pure absurdity of fame or a completely fucked up existence. Using absurdity and humour as armour? HA! That’s ridiculous, like some sad clown crying into their pea soup because they ran out of salt. Wait, what? Ya, fucking exactly.

Chances are that even if you haven’t stalked Stephen’s sexy ass van on weekends or haven’t been known to throw Thundercat on repeat, you’ve heard Thundercat’s thick thumbs slapping the shit out of dat bass. Dude’s been chilling in the back with some of the world’s faves and greatest. He’s birthed some of the boomiest, bluesiest, and busiest baselines amongst modern musical gods like: Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, Donald Glover’s Atlanta, Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu, and his close friend, and recent loss, Mac Miller. You hear the pain of Stephen’s grief on tracks like “Fair Chance.” Run out of salt for your pea soup? This is the track for you. Look, if you’re one of these sour bitches or uptight assholes that can’t find humour in life, you’re really not going to enjoy your time here. Thundercat doesn’t wallow. Not his steeze. He’ll crack jokes amongst jazzy, psychedelic, and funky atmospheres. Dude’s included a thick baby-making funk track that includes the chorus, “Baby girl, how do I look in my durag,” and the line, “I may be covered in cat hair, but I still smell good.” The track, “Miguel’s Happy Dance,” starts with the line, “Do the fucking happy dance even when you’re really fucking mad.” This shit is funny. With its humour, honesty, tragedy, and stoned-out-of-its-mind atmosphere, this album feels fan-fucking-tastic on quarantine days.

Personally? I’ve always hated the phrase, “It is what it is.” It’s something dumb fucks like to toss out when they want to sound wise. It’s the excuse people give when they’re too lazy to try. It’s the phrase someone says when they explain a situation that seems to be beyond their control when it really isn’t. It’s De Niro’s reasoning for killing Pacino in “The Irishman”. It’s a crutch. It’s fucking pathetic. I think of the millions of defiant people that raged and fought throughout history, against seemingly insurmountable obstacles and forces, listening to some dolt puttering this phrase to a friend after they’ve run out of beer. People that know me well say this shit just to get on my nerves. But when it comes to death? I fucking get it. That big unknowable. The long sleep. Crossing the river Styx in a horizontal phone booth. Kicking a bucket of pushed daisies with your toes tagged six feet under to join an invisible choir. I fucking get it. On this album’s final track it says, “When it all comes to an end, when there’s nothing left to say, it is what it is.” This comes right before the track’s final line and shout out to Stephen’s newly departed friend Mac, “Hey, Mac!” This album is full of heart and humour. You might be laughing and crying at once. It’s honest, it’s personal, and it’s as fucking real as it gets. In short: goddamn, this is a good album.

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