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February 2018

Artist Profile: Thundercat

Thundercat (Stephen Bruner) is a virtuoso bass player and singer/songwriter. He is a part of the Bruner family, which includes his older brother Ronald Bruner Jr., (a Grammy-winning jazz drummer and producer) and his father, Ronald Bruner Sr., drummer for Diana Ross, The Temptations and more. He rose to fame performing with acts like Suicidal Tendencies, meanwhile gaining attention for his session work with artists such as Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, Mac Miller, Erykah  Badu, Childish Gambino, and Kendrick Lamar. Bruner was instrumental in giving Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly it’s characteristic funk revival sound, and can be heard playing bass and singing on tracks such as “Wesley’s Theory”, “Alright”, and “These Walls”. He also helped produce Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy winning album DAMN. in 2017. Needless to say, Thundercat has accrued plenty of collaborative mainstream success and critical acclaim.

As a solo artist, Thundercat has released three full length albums and an EP. He is a part of the Brainfeeder label, which was founded by experimental hip hop producer Flying Lotus. His solo work has a characteristic “yacht rock” style, with smooth bass lines, slick production and his iconic falsetto singing. While Thundercat is a talented singer and songwriter, where he really shines is on the bass guitar, with his virtuosic talent. Songs “Uh Uh” and “Fleer Ultra” showcase his immense technical abilities.

His most recent album was released in February 2017. The album, entitled Drunk, was #1 on the WUSC charts for over a month, including songs “Show You The Way” featuring Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, and “Walk On By” featuring Kendrick Lamar. Other features include Wiz Khalifa, Pharell, and Flying Lotus. Drunk was one of the most popular albums at WUSC in the past year.

Thundercat performed at Music Farm Columbia in October 2017. He is just as good live as he is in the studio, and maybe even better – his musicianship is unparalleled when it comes to live performance. He has a cool, laid-back persona (he performed in silk boxing shorts and a kimono), paired with fierce raw musical talent.  He would play a laid back song such as “Lava Lamp”, and then go into a blistering technical song like “Fleer Ultra”. Sometimes the only thing the audience could do was stand and stare with your jaw dropped at his fingers flying around the bass. The mix of hip hop, jazz, funk, and rock made for an unforgettable experience. If he’s ever in your area, do yourself a favor and see him live! And if you haven’t listened to Thundercat yet, give his records some spins!


By Jonathan Furnell / DJ Pooh

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