JULIA CLAPIS ’18
Thundercat’s third studio album “Drunk”, released by Brainfeeder, is the funkiest and funniest album you’ll hear this year. It is a figure eigself-reflectionection that manages to be incredibly personal, yet relateable to any listener, even if you haven’t played all of the videogames referenced. It features too many names to list, but Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Flying Lotus, Pharrell Williams, Kenny Loggins, and Michael McDonald rank among the most notable. The plethora of collaborations is no surprise considering Thundercat’s past as a bass virtuoso, studio musician, producer, and creative force, known for his work on Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” multiple Flylo albums (including You’re Dead!), Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, and Badu’s “New Amerykah” (Pt. 1&2). The 23 track album finishes just above 50 minutes; full of quick preludes and interludes, obliging a complete listen through.
It begins with an invitation to “get drunk and travel down a rabbit hole”, then descends into an intoxicated post night out haze filled with echoes of “Jesus take the wheel”, and “I think I left my wallet at the club”.
Thundercat stretches out his jazz fingers for the third track, but the album really begins to warm up with “A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)” which features a super groovy bass line, a great drum fill, and a chorus of meows- all you could want in a song?. Once the opening chords of “Show You the Way (feat. Flying Lotus, Kenny Loggins, and Michael McDonald)” sound, the album really begins to hit its stride with an indescribably funky instant classic with some throwback fun for the whole family. The introductions and applause are tongue in cheek, but the emotion in Michael McDonald’s uniquely throaty voice completes the song. I want to know what weird 80s fantasy inspired Thundercat to call up Loggins, best known for Footloose, and McDonald, of Doobie Brothers fame, because it’s one of the highlights of the album. It fades into “Walk on By (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”, a sad, simple song that is beautifully produced with a sensual drum machine beat and an emotional verse from each artist. It’s a song that demonstrates the power of Thundercat/Kendrick teamwork- in case you missed “To Pimp a Butterfly.”
One of the most whimsical songs on “Drunk” is “Tokyo”, which fades in and out with echoes of video games past, present, and future. It is a chaotic ode to the city from a self proclaimed anime fan “when I was a boy/ I went to the dentist and he gave me a toy/ It was Dragon Ball Z, a wrist slap bracelet/ Goku f******* ruined me”. Thundercat delivers a song for getting drunk with “Friendzone”. We drift through space until suddenly the beat drops and transports us to Thundercat’s futuristic funk club where we are greeted by bubbly arpeggios and sharp drums. The music is in juxtaposition, though, to the snarky millennial lyrics; “I’m gonna play Diablo either way/ you can go or you can go” but the contrast is just Thundercat’s style.
The funk descends into a murky haze for “Them Changes”, previously released on 2015’s “The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam.” A relentless groove oozes through the track filled with poignant lyrics and makes it one of his finest works. Nothing is without flaws, though, and one song skip is necessary. Unfortunately Wiz’s part in “Drink Dat (feat. Wiz Khalifa and Taylor Graves)” just falls flat against Thundercat’s soulful chorus and fingersnaps- if only Kendrick had stuck around for another song.
Overall, the witty lyrics paired with Thundercat’s productions skills and bass prowess make for one of the best albums to come out this year. It is early in the year to be making calls like this, But listening to the album will definitely prove Thundercat and his music to be innovative and exciting. One listen through will have anyone interested in his unique sound.
JULIA CLAPIS ’18