Over the last few years, we have seen a dramatic transformation in the direction and perception of producer and bassist Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat. As one of the standout names on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label, the artist began as an outsider weirdo, running along the peripheries of conventional musical ideas. But since the 2017 album 'Drunk', his first dabble into a more commercially appealing guise, we have seen him blossom out of his adolescence and begin to adopt a more ambitious and self-reflective tone, which is exactly what we are now experiencing on his fourth full-length 'It Is What It Is'.
Inspired largely by the loss of his good friend Mac Miller, to whom he spoke with hours before his overdose in 2018, 'It Is What It Is' is a scatological collection of diverse and eclectic musical influences, all wrapped up in a web of love and loss. But not that you would get much of that emotion running through this new collection, as his bombastic approach to production once again steals the show and delivers yet another batch of jazz-inspired RnB that is quickly becoming his signature sound. While their are plenty of moments that look to see him in a more vulnerable light, it is the bold and experimental funk additions that remain the stalwart element of this new release.
Thundercat seems to be one of those artists that can always make something stick. No matter how out of control his intentions become, he can always find that special way to create an engaging feel for the audience listening. 'It Is What It Is' may be more in line with 'Drunk' than anything else in his catalogue, but this is exactly what you should expect from an act always looking to evolve to the next step.