Thundercat Drunk, Dark And Hypnotically Good

You might think hearing Thundercat (aka Stephen Bruner) sing about drunkenness, madness, the discriminatory police state, heartbreak, rejection, death and so on, would make you feel blue. But you’re probably wrong.

Despite its dark lyrical themes Thundercat’s third album Drunk in its whole sonic journey, somehow turns out to be a hypnotic, feel-good experience.

Thundercat - Drunk

Drunk (2017)

For starters any lyrical downers on the album are expressed by Thundercat straight up and honestly with refreshing kookiness and humour. There’s also a saving light to be found in the darkness as well as crazy space rides to be had, the joy of letting loose on anime and fish in Tokyo and the nine pleasurable lives of a cat hanging out in the sunshine. And more importantly, hearing Thundercat’s smooth falsetto voice singing those lyrics consistently over 23 tracks has the effect of lulling you into a hypnotic place of serenity, simple as that.

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Drunk is full of so many diversely weird and wonderful programmed beats care of Steven Ellison (Flying Lotus), Sounwave and Thundercat himself that you can’t help but feel you’re winning your way through a super-fun computer game. Add to that the living instrumental sounds of Thundercat on electric bass, Dennis Hamm on piano and saxophone by Kamasi Washington; plus vocal contributions by both likely and seemingly unlikely artists like Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald – and there you have your complete hypnotic, feel-good sonic experience.

Check out two sample tracks from Drunk below – with the usual ‘compressed-mp3-version’ warning. Get the real deal in hard copy from your local music store or direct from Brainfeeder so you don’t miss out on the pleasure of hearing all the many subtle sounds this album has to offer.

Show You The Way – Thundercat featuring Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins

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Walk On By – Thundercat featuring Kendrick Lamar

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Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly: The Art Of Music In 2015

With each passing year of life the rarer it seems I hear new music that sounds truly fresh and innovative to me; new music that makes me feel excited about the art of music and its contemporary evolution. Lots of new albums were released in 2015. Only three spring to mind that gave me that excitement.

One was Hiatus Kaiyote’s Choose Your Weapon. The second was The Epic by Kamasi Washington.

Hiatus Kaiyote - Choose Your Weapon (2015)

Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon (2015)

Kamasi Washington - The Epic (2015)

Kamasi Washington – The Epic (2015)

Finally for 2015, the album that got me the most excited, was Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

Knock yourself out reading and watching the countless reviews and opinions on To Pimp A Butterfly published throughout the world this past year. All that matters is this: The Compton rapper and dozens of his equally brilliant musical collaborators succeeded in sampling, revamping and creating anew the super-tastiest sounds of soul, jazz and funk wrapped in a hip hop masterpiece beyond compare in 2015. And if you haven’t already, get your hands on To Pimp A Butterfly in its most sublime format (vinyl of course) to hear and take pleasure in all its sonic intricacies for forever-after.

Folks who choose to buy their music digitally or take it for free; who don’t see the full album credits unless they go looking on-line and mightn’t know which artists created To Pimp A Butterfly’s 16 magnificent tracks other than Kendrick Lamar and listed “feature” artists…take the time to learn now. Their names matter. All of them are stunning contemporary artists in their own rights – and collectively they and Kendrick Duckworth Lamar made magic with To Pimp A Butterfly.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

Kendrick Lamar feat. George Clinton & Thundercat – “Wesley’s Theory”

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“Wesley’s Theory” written by Kendrick Duckworth, George Clinton, Steven Ellison, Ronald Colson, Stephen Bruner & Boris Gardiner; Produced by Flying Lotus & Ronald “Flippa” Colson; Additional Production by Sounwave & Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Horns & Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Background Vocals- Dr. Dre, Anna Wise, Ash Riser, Josef Leimberg & Whitney Alford. Contains elements of “Every Nigger Is a Star” by Boris Gardiner.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

Kendrick Lamar – “You Aint Gotta Lie (Momma Said)”

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“You Aint Gotta Lie (Momma Said)” written by Kendrick Duckworth, Terrace Martin, Rose McKinney, Josef Leimberg & Mark Spears; Produced by LoveDragon; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Keyboards- Sounwave & Terrace Martin; Alto Saxophone/Vocoder- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Percussion- Larrance Dopson; Guitar- Marlon Williams; Background Vocals- Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, Preston Harris, Wyann Vaughn & JaVonte.

“For Free? (Interlude)”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Terrace Martin & Rose McKinney; Produced by Terrace Martin; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Drums- Robert Sput Searight; Piano- Robert Glasper; Bass- Brandon Owens; Organ- Craig Brockman; Guitar- Marlon Williams; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Background Vocals- Anna Wise & Darlene Tibbs.

“King Kunta”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Spears, Johnny Burns, Michael Jackson, Ahmad Lewis, Stefan Gordy & D. Blake; Produced by Sounwave; Additional Production by Terrace Martin; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Bass- Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner; Additional Guitar- Marlon Williams & Matt Schaeffer; Background Vocals- Whitney Alford.

“King Kunta” contains: interpolations of “Get Nekkid” by Johnny Burns & D. Blake; resung lyrics from “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson; elements from “The Payback” by James Brown/Fred Wesley/J.Stark and from “We Want the Funk” by A. Lewis & S. Gordy.

“Institutionalized” feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Snoop Dogg

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Columbus Smith & Fredrik Halldin; Produced by Rahki & Fredrik “Tommy Black” Halldin; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Keyboards- Sam Barsh; Clarinet- Pedro Castro; Cello- Gabriel Noel; Violin- Paul Cartwright; Background Vocals- Taz Arnold a.k.a. Ti$a.

“These Walls” feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Terrace Martin, Larrance Dopson, James Fauntleroy & Rose McKinney; Produced by Terrace Martin & Larrance Dopson of 1500 or Nothin’; Additional Production by Sounwave; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Guitar- Marlon Williams & Gregory Moore; Keyboards- Robert Glasper, Larrance Dopson & Terrace Martin; Percussion- Larrance Dopson; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Additional Bass- Thundercat.

“u”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Taz Arnold & Michael Brown; Produced by Taz Arnold a.k.a. Ti$a & WhoAreI; Additional Production by Sounwave; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Alto Saxophone/Keyboards- Terrace Martin; Tenor Saxophone- Kamasi Washington; Baritone Saxophone- Adam Turchin; Guitar- Marlon Williams; Background Vocals- Bilal, Jessica Vielmas & SZA.

“Alright”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Pharrell Williams & Mark Spears; Produced by Pharrell Williams & Sounwave; Recorded by James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Background Vocals- Pharrell Williams, Candace Wakefield & Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner.

“For Sale? (Interlude)”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth & Taz Arnold; Produced by Taz Arnold a.k.a. Ti$a; Additional Production by Sounwave & Terrace Martin; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali; Mixed by MixedByAli; Alto Saxophone/Keyboards- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Background Vocals- Bilal, Ti$a, Preston Harris & SZA.

“Momma”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Glen Boothe, Taz Arnold, Sylvester Stewart, Lalah Hathaway, Rahsaan Patterson & Rex Rideout; Produced by Knxwledge & Taz Arnold a.k.a. Ti$a; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Alto Saxophone/Keyboards/Vocoder- Terrace Martin; Background Vocals- Lalah Hathaway & Bilal.

“Momma” contains elements of “Wishful Thinkin” by S. Stewart as performed by Sly & The Family Stone, ”On Your Own” written by Lalah Hathaway, R. Patterson, & R. Rideout; samples from “On Your Own” performed by Lalah Hathaway, from the album Self Portrait.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

“Hood Politics”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Donte Perkins, Mark Spears, Stephen Bruner & S. Stevens; Produced by Tae Beast, Sounwave & Thundercat; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & James “The White Black Man” Hunt; Mixed by MixedByAli; Keyboards- Terrace Martin & Robert Sput Searight; Background Vocals-  Bilal, Anna Wise, Preston Harris & Dion Friley. “Hood Politics” includes sample of “All for Myself” (S. Stevens).

“How Much a Dollar Cost” feat. James Fauntleroy  & Ronald Isley

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Terrace Martin, Josef Leimberg, Rose McKinney, James Fauntleroy & Ronald Isley; Produced by LoveDragon; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Alto Saxophone/Keyboards- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Percussion- Larrance Dopson; Guitar- Marlon Williams; Ronald Isley’s verse recorded by Thomas Burns.

“Complexion (A Zulu Love)” feat. Rapsody

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Stephen Bruner, Mark Spears & Marlanna Evans; Produced by Thundercat & Sounwave; Additional Production- Terrace Martin & Antydote; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Keyboards- Terrace Martin & Robert Glasper; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg; Percussion- Larrance Dopson; Background Vocals- Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, Lalah Hathaway, Talkbox Monte & JaVonte; Background Vocals/Scratches- Pete Rock; Rapsody’s verse recorded by 9th Wonder.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

“The Blacker the Berry”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Matthew Samuels, Stephen Kozmeniuk, Ken Lewis, Brent Kolatalo, Jefferey Campbell, Alexander Izquierdo & Zale Epstein; Produced by Boi-1da & Koz; Additional Production- Terrace Martin; Additional Drum Programming & Additional Engineering- Katalyst; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Drums- Ronald Bruner Jr; Keyboards- Robert Glasper; Bass- Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Percussion- Larrance Dopson; Background Vocals- Lalah Hathaway.

“i”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Columbus Smith, Ronald Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, Rudolph Isley & Christopher Jasper; Produced by Rahki; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Mix Assistants- The White Black Man & Matt Schaeffer; Keyboards- Sam Barsh; Guitar- Keith Askey; Drums- Kendall Lewis; Bass- Chris Smith & Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner; Percussion- Rahki; Background Vocals- Taz Arnold a.k.a. Ti$a, William Swept, Candace Wakefield, Devon Downing, Edwin Orellana, Dave Free & Dion Friley; Additional Vocals- Ronald Isley, recorded by Thomas Burns. “i” contains portions of “That Lady” by Ronald Isley, Christopher Jasper, O’Kelly Isley, Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley & Rudolph Isley.

“Mortal Man”

Written by Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Spears, Stephen Bruner & F. Anikulapo; Produced by Sounwave; Recorded by Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, James “The White Black Man” Hunt & Matt Schaeffer; Mixed by MixedByAli; Bass- Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner; Keyboards- Robert Glasper & Junius Bervine; Guitar- Marlon Williams; Alto Saxophone- Terrace Martin; Trumpet- Josef Leimberg & Ambrose Akinmusire; Background vocals- James Fauntleroy & JaVonte; String Arrangements by Kamasi Washington, Sounwave & Terrace Martin.

“Mortal Man” contains: elements of “I No Get Eye for Back” by F. Anikulapo  and excerpts from “I No Get Eye for Back” as performed by Houston Person; features parts from the music journalist Mats Nileskar’s 2Pac Shakur interview in New York, November 1994.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

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