MAY ROTM : Thundercat's 'It Is What It Is'
It Is What It Is is the HUGE new album from the mighty Thundercat and it is our Record of The Month for May. It's the follow-up to the game-changing Drunk, the record which completed his transition from virtuoso bassist to bonafide star and cemented his reputation as a unique voice that stretches beyond any genre. It Is What It Is was produced by Flying Lotus and Thundercat himself, and features musical contributions from Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox.
"This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Thundercats 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.”
Thundercat revisits established partnerships with Kamasi Washington, Louis Cole, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Ronald Bruner Jr and Dennis Hamm on “It Is What Is Is” but there are new faces too: Childish Gambino, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, plus Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B on ‘Fair Chance’ - a song explicitly about his friend Mac Miller’s passing. The aptly titled ‘I Love Louis Cole’ is another standout - “Louis Cole is a brush of genius. He creates so purely,” says Thundercat. “He makes challenging music: harmony-wise, melody-wise and tempo-wise but still finds a way for it to be beautiful and palatable.”
Thundercat’s music starts on his couch at home: “It’s just me, the bass and the computer”. Nevertheless, referring to the spiritual connection that he shares with his longtime writing and production partner Flying Lotus, Bruner describes his friend as “the other half of my brain”. “I wouldn’t be the artist I am if Lotus wasn’t there,” he says. “He taught me… he saw me as an artist and he encouraged it. No matter the life changes, that’s my partner. We are always thinking of pushing in different ways.”
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.”
Virtuosic bass wonders, jazz, pop/R&B.
IF YOU LIKE...
Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus, Knxwledge, BADBADNOTGOOD, Toro y Moi, Hiatus Kaiyote.
WHAT YOU GET:
1 x Thundercat It Is What it Is - limited edition 140g indie-exclusive cream vinyl / housed in a 3mm spined sleeve with gold foil detail and OBI strip / MP3 downloads.