Tag: Thundercat

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Thundercat Returns with Sunny and Redemptive Visuals for Collaborative Single with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past couple of years, you’ve likely been made familiar with the he critically applauded  bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, and as you may recall, within the past three years or so, Bruner has been remarkably prolific as he’s made attention-grabbing guest appearances contributing his imitable bass and vocals to Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy Award-winning To Pimp A Butterfly and Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic. Bruner followed that up by releasing what arguably best may have been one of the best releases of 2015, The Beyond/Where Giants Roam. 

Last year, Bruner teased us with some more new material, including “Bus In These Streets,” a comedic and playful ode to our reliance and dependence on technology in which Bruner collaborated with the renowned producer, beatmaker, electronic music artist and filmmaker Flying Lotus contributing programming and Louis Cole contributing keys and programming. And as you know, Bruner’s third, full-length album Drunk was released earlier this year, and the album was written as a journey deep into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes very dark mind of its creator, who collaborated with an impressive array of friends and guests including the aforementioned Kamasi Washington and Kendrick Lamar, along with a few other folks you may have heard of, like Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell Williams, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. 

Drunk’s first official single “Show You The Way”is a smooth and soulfully jazz-like pop track in which arpeggiated synths, stuttering drum programming and Bruner’s dexterous bass lines serve as a shimmering and silky bed over which Bruner, Kenny Loggins and Micheal Donald trade soulful vocals to create a song that feels like a polished and effortless synthesis of Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” and Bruner’s signature funky, retro-futuristic jazz fusion.

Directed by Katarzyna Sawicka and Carlos Lopez Estrada, the recently released music video for “Show You The Way,” follows the characters and the storyline the directors began with the surreal and darkly comic visuals they created in “Them Changes,”  and while that video ended in a grim note with an armless and heartbroken protagonist, “Show You The Way” is a sunny contrast, offering a semblance of redemption, healing and love for our armless protagonist.  

Live Footage: Thundercat feat. Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins Performing “Show You The Way” on “The Tonight Show”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you’d recall that the past two years or so have been both incredibly productive and prolific for the critically applauded  bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. He made guest appearances contributing bass and/or vocals to Kendrick Lamar‘s Grammy Award-winning To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, and he followed that up by releasing what arguably may have been one of 2015’s best albums The Beyond/Where Giants Roam, an effort that I think further cemented his reputation as a dexterous bassist, who carefully walks a tightrope between jazz fusion, contemporary jazz and funk in a way that’s reminiscent of the late and great Jaco Pastorius — but while nodding at Stevie Wonder’s 70s and early 80s output, as it possessed a retro-futuristic sound. 

Last year, I wrote about “Bus In These Streets,” the first bit of music from the renowned bassist and vocalist in over a year, and the single was a comedic and playful ode to our reliance and dependence on technology in which Thundercat’s dexterous and sinuous bass lines with Louis Cole (keys, drums and programming) contributing shimmering and twinkling keys and propulsive drum programming and frequent collaborator Flying Lotus contributing more programming and editing in a song that evokes a dreamy, distracted self-absorption as the song’s narrator spends their time staring at their smartphone, not noticing the world pass him by — or the inherent danger he might be walking into as he stupidly stares into his phone.

Bruner’s third, full-length effort Drunk was released earlier this year and the album is reportedly an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes very dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist, and the effort find Bruner collaborating with an All-Star list of guests and friends including Kamasi Washington,  Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell Williams, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. While the album will feature fan favorites “Bus In These Streets” and “Them Changes,”  Drunk‘s first official single “Show You The Way” is a sleek and soulfully jazzy track in which shimmering arpeggio cascades of synths, stuttering drums, and Bruner’s imitable bass lines are paired in an incredible collaboration that features Bruner’s sultry falsetto with the imitable vocals of Kenny Loggins and Micheal McDonald. Sonically speaking the song is an uncanny synthesis of Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” and Bruner’s signature funky, retro-futuristic jazz fusion.

So how did such a high-powered collaboration come about? Thundercat has publicly mentioned his love of Loggins and his work during interviews to promote both The Beyond and the tour for the album — and it lead to his keyboardist Dennis Hamm introducing Bruner to Loggins. According to both Bruner and Hamm, Loggins then suggested bringing in Michael McDonald on the track. And as Bruner adds in press notes “I think one of the most beautiful moments of it was realizing how amazing Michael McDonald was. He would go through so many ideas and have so much to offer.” As for the song, Bruner says “That song to me is about going down the rabbit hole, taking you to another place . . . On the edge of dark, there’s the brightest light. It means a lot to me in the sense of . . .the experience that I’ve had growing up with friends and people that I’ve been around where it’s inventing them into where I come from emotionally. Sometimes it’s a pretty intense thing. The point is how weird things can get. ”

Now, if you’ve frequenting this site over the past four years or so, you’ve come across a number of posts featuring the Seattle, WA-based JOVM mainstays Shabazz Palaces. Comprised of Digable Planets‘ Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire, the son of Dumisani Maraire, the project continues Butler’s long-held reputation for being uncompromisingly different and for crafting material with pro-Black messages.

The duo of Butler and Maraire quietly released two albums in 2009 — their self-titled debut and Of Light, which caught the attention of renowned indie label Sub Pop Records, who signed the act, and released 2011’s Black Up, an effort released to critical applause for its kaleidoscopic and hallucinogenic production paired with Butler’s witty and incredibly dexterous flow. While continuing to cement Butler’s and Mariare’s reputation for crafting incredibly weird, psychedelic hip hop, 2014’s Lese Majesty was a decided change in sonic direction with much of the material possessing an eerie cosmic glow with even heavier low end — intergalactic trap, perhaps? Along with the decided change of direction, the duo offered a bold challenge to contemporary hip-hop artists. As Butler told NPR during an interview about Lese Majesty, “This endeavor that I pursue, that we all pursue in Shabazz Palaces, make no mistake, this is an attack. We’re trying to show off and really stunt on all other rappers and let them know that this is our style, this is what we do and we’re ready to put it up against anybody else’s stuff.”

Some time had passed since I had last written about Shabazz Palaces; after all, both Maraire and Butler had been busy with their own separate creative pursuits — in 2015 Maraire and a group of collaborators wrote and released material with his side project,  Chimurenga Renaissance and Butler has been on a reunion run with the members of Digable Planets, which has continued through this year with several stops in NYC. (Digable Planets played a free show at Greenpoint Brooklyn’s House of Vans earlier this month and they’ll be playing a SummerStage later this summer.)  Somehow, Butler and Maraire managed to set aside some time to write new material and record material for two albums —  Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star and Quarzarz vs. The Jealous Machines, which will see a simultaneous release on July 14, 2017 through Sub Pop Records.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Shine A Light,” the first single off Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star, and while continuing the duo’s long-running collaboration with soul outfit Thadillac, who contribute a lush, dusty, old-school soul-leaning arrangement featuring shimmering strings, a strutting bass line, warm psychedelic guitar blasts, shuffling drum beats, and a retro-futuristic-like hook consisting of distorted, vocoder-filtered vocals, the single thematically is part of a surreal yet politically-charged concept album that introduces the listener to and then tells the tale of Quazarz, a sentient being from far away, who’s sent to be an observer and musical emissary with a mission to explore and chronicle the things he sees and experiences,subtly echoing the  cult-classic film The Brother From Another Planet and Alexis De Tocqueville‘s Democracy in America; however, what our otherworldly emissary finds is a bizarre, cutthroat landscape of brutality, conformity, alternative facts, hypocrisy, greed, suffering, selfishness and death masquerading as patriotism and connectivity. And as result, Quazarz finds himself feeling increasingly horrified and out of place and within a world that is unfathomably hellish and unfair.

Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines is for all intents and purposes, a spiritual and thematic twin of sorts. Produced by Butler and Sunny Levine and recorded at Seattle’s Protect and Exalt Labs: A Black Space and Dror Lord Studios in Marina Del Rey, CA and featuring guest spots from Chimuregna Renaissance’s Fly Guy Dai, Amir Yaghamai, John Carroll Kirby, Thaddillac, Morgan Henderson, The Shogun Shot, Laz, and Purple Tape Nate, the album continues with the tell of our otherworldly musical emissary Quarzarz and in his further explorations of modern life, he discovers a world in which humankind’s relationship with technology has become both co-dependent and strangely sensual, as it seduces people to be sedentary, thoughtless, uninspired to do anything to change their individual plight, let alone change the world, and having their creativity and life stolen from them. Along with a bunch of misfit cohorts, the protagonist leads a rising collective “hell no,” to the device and the guilds that proliferate them. The album’s first single “30 Clip Extension” was arguably one of the strangest songs that Butler and Maraire as the song featured a minimalist producing consisting wobbling and tumbling low end, stuttering drum programming, enormous beats and shimmering synths paired with Butler’s imitable flow alternating between surrealistic poetry and rhyming — while describing an arrogant, vain, ostentatious, drug addled rapper, who’s controlled by an unseen conspiracy of exterior and interior forces.

“Since C.A.Y.A.,” Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star‘s latest single continues on a similar vein as the preceding singles, in the sense that it’s trippy and odd as hell but with an elastic-like looseness that nods at the Oompa Loompas in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — although just under the surface is a subtle sense of menace. Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner contributes wobbling hyper-futuristic bass lines to the sparsely minimalist production that allows Butler enough room to rhyme both about his narrator’s  legendary and surreal past and present, but in which he sees himself as a black person in a dangerous and weird world that fetishes and abhors him.  And they manage to do so while nodding at the weirdness of Beck and The Flaming Lips.

 

Born in Zambia, raised in Botswana and currently based in Sydney, Australia, the 23 year old poet, visual artist, emcee, singer/songwriter and pop artist Sampa the Great, who publicly has cited Mos Def, Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, Nneka, and others, as influences. And since the release of The Great Mixtape and collaborations with fellow Australians, pop artist Wallace on the skittering and jazzy single “Beauty” and internationally acclaimed Australian emcee Remi on the neo-soul and conscious hip-hop influenced “For Good,” the Sydney, Australia-based artist has quickly built up a growing internationally recognized profile as she’s opened for the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote, Ibeyi, Little Simz and Fat Freddy’s Drop, as well as played sets at Golden Plains, Sugar Mountain, Laneway, WOMAD and Vivid LIVE. However, 2017 may arguably be the Sampa the Great’s breakout year as her Rakhi-produced HERoes Act 2 was released yesterday through Red Bull Sound Select, and features the Sydney, Australia-based artist collaborating with Estelle. And while further cementing her reputation for a ridiculously dexterous flow that draws from spoken word performances, old school, hip-hop lyricism, with complex inner rhyme and multisyllabic rhyme schemes, old school soul and the blues and jazz, her latest single “The Plug” features Estelle and Sampa doing their thing with a swaggering, self-assuredness over a Timbaland-like production featuring futuristic bleeps and bloops, industrial clang and clatter, glitchy and shuffling beats and swirling electronics.

HERoes Act 2 is the second part of a two part narrative series of songs and genre-defying collaborative projects with Act being a spoken-world video, 2 track exploration into self-discovery and inner strength within a world that’s gone mad with uncertainty, racism and fear. “The Plug,” like the two other songs on the EP continue in a similar vein while continuing her reputation for crafting material based around her own personal experiences as an outsider, her desire and need to create, and the recognition that as individuals and as a society, that we need to value the strength and abilities of the individual; but in terms of this particular song, the song leans towards recognizing and championing the god-given talents of the individual, while brushing away haters and nay-sayers, with your desire to make a name for yourself at what you can do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: FYUTCH’s Hilarious Action Movie-based Take on Rejection

Harold Simmons II is a Gary, IN-born, New York-based (by way of a lengthy stint in Nashville, TN), emcee, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who writes and records as FYUTCH (pronounced Fi-yoo-tch). Simmons can trace the origins of his musical and performing career to when he initially began to receive attention as a public speaker, who had given speeches at a number of impressive and major public events — including Gary’s Mayor Scott L. King’s campaign banquet and on the steps of Congress. When he turned 17, Simmons formed Legendary Biscuits and Gravy a band in which he played alto sax and contributed vocals with friends, Eric Sexton (keyboard), Brandon Holt (drums), Wesley Winfrey (tenor sax) and Brady Surface (bass). The quintet received regional acclaim as they were nominated for Southern Entertainment Awards’ Best Indy R&B Artist of the Year in 2007. And over the subsequent two year period, the band saw a rapidly growing profile as they’ve been on bills that included nationally and internationally recognized artists including The Pink Spiders, Sam and Ruby, as well as opening for Kanye West, GZA and Nappy Roots.

Simmons relocated to Nashville and while using the moniker Future the Artist, Simmons released his self-produced solo debut The Sci Fly EP, which garnered a Nashville Music Award nomination for Best Urban Recording of the Year, which he followed up with his Overnight Mixtape series in which he wrote and recorded six mixtapes — with each mixtape being recorded during an overnight studio session and then released as a free download the next day. The mixtapes caught the attention of renowned site, Nashville Scene, who praised Simmons’ work; in fact, thanks to the growing attention he received, the fourth mixtape of the series found Simmons collaborating with the likes of Bun B and GLC. Additionally, as a solo artist, he has opened for Wale, Pharrell Williams, Little Brother and Afroman.

By late 2012, Simmons changed his name to FYUTCH after discovering that there was another artist who also went by the name Future, who was receiving quite a bit of attention nationally — and internationally. And since changing his performing moniker, Simmons has released several efforts including Mr. Flattop, which was executive produced by DJ Rob “Sir” Lazenby and featured guest spots from Mike Stud, Futuristic, Mello Rello, Whitney Coleman and production by G-Pop, Wick-it the Instigator and The FANS; a psychedelic hip-hop concept EP Peace, Love and FYUTCH which was produced by G-Pop and featured deeply obscure samples and world music percussion. Interestingly, “Funked Up,” the first single off his Philosophy of Love EP was produced by Solar Shield — and the single is a Dam-Funk/Thundercat retro-futuristic -leaning jam featuring shimmering, arpeggio synths and wobbling low end paired with Simmons rhyming and singing a hilarious and very true tale about approaching an attractive woman, who’s been attracted to for some time or has noticed for a little bit and being cruelly rejected for his efforts. On one level, the song is about having the blind courage to risk being made a fool of and being rejected; on another level, the song is a tell off to someone, who in the narrator’s eyes doesn’t see what kind of man he is; but also, the song can be viewed as an admission of how stupid and vulnerable love can make us. And Simmons does all of this in a slick and funky as hell, dance-floor friendly song.

Filmed by Wesley Crutcher, the recently released video for “Funked Up,” is a mischievous take on action movies — in particular, movies like Jumper in which the main character travels through time; in this case, the future FYUTCH winds up traveling through time to see a younger FYUTCH get rejected by one of his first love interests, while the older FYUTCH gets rejected by a love interest, who was sitting near the younger FYUTCH. Trippy, right? But at the same time, it’s goofy and hilarious take on rejection.

 

Now if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, you’d know that the past couple of years have been incredibly productive and prolific for the critically applauded and renowned bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner as he made guest appearances on two critically and commercially successful albums  — Kendrick Lamar‘s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, and arguably one of of 2015’s best albums, The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, an effort which further cemented Bruner’s reputation for being  a dexterous bassist and mischievous songwriter, as the material off that album possessed a retro-futuristic sound that nodded at Steve Wonder‘s legendary 1970s output, complete with wobbling and propulsive bass lines, arpeggio synths and Bruner’s sultry and plaintive falsetto.

Bruner’s third, full-length effort Drunk is slated for a February 24, 2017 release through Brainfeeder and the album will be an epic 23 track journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist — and the effort finds him collaborating with an All-Star list of collaborators including frequent collaborators and friends Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell Williams, along with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. While the album will feature fan favorites “Bus In These Streets” and “Them Changes,” one of my favorite tracks off The Beyond/Where The Giants RoamDrunk’s first single “Show You The Way” was a soulful, 1970s jazz fusion-leaning track in which shimmering arpeggio synth lines, stuttering drums, Bruner’s incredible bass work and sultry falsetto with the legendary vocal work of Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald that interestingly enough reminded me of  Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near).”

Although Valentine’s Day has passed, Drunk‘s latest single is an Anti-Valentine’s Day anthem in which the song’s narrator complains about a love interest, who has not only friend zoned him, but continually plays games with him and his feelings. And throughout the song, the song’s narrator builds up the courage to tell the object of his attention that he’s had enough of having his emotions and heart fucked with — and instead of being friend zoned by an asshole, he would be better off by himself. Sonically, the song continues along a similar vein of the album’s preceding single as shimmering, arpeggio synth lines, a wobbling and propulsive bass line and four-on-the-floor drums paired with Bruner’s dreamy falsetto; however, unlike “Show You The Way,” “Friend Zone” is full of the bitter recriminations and frustrations of cruelly unrequited love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The past two years were incredibly productive and prolific years for the critically applauded and rewound bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay  Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner as he made guest appearances on two critically and commercially successful albums — Kendrick Lamar‘s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, as well as one of 2015’s best albums, The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, which further cemented his reputation as a dexterous and playful bassist and songwriter, with material that sonically channeled Stevie Wonder’s incredible 70s output, as it possessed a retro-futuristic sound as wobbling and propulsive bass lines were paired with arpeggio synths and Bruner’s sultry and plaintive falsetto.

Now, as you may remember last year, I wrote about “Bus In These Streets,” the first bit of music from the renowned bassist and vocalist in over a year, and the single was a comedic and playful ode to our reliance and dependence on technology in which Thundercat’s dexterous and sinuous bass lines with Louis Cole (keys, drums and programming) contributing shimmering and twinkling keys and propulsive drum programming and frequent collaborator Flying Lotus contributing more programming and editing in a song that evokes a dreamy, distracted  self-absorption as the song’s narrator spends their time staring at their smartphone, not noticing the world pass him by — or the inherent danger he might be walking into as he stupidly stares into his phone.

Bruner’s third, full-length effort Drunk is slated for a February 24, 2017 release through Brainfeeder and the album will be an epic 23 track journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist — and the effort finds him collaborating with an All-Star list of collaborators including frequent collaborators and friends Kamasi Washington (a Brainfeeder labelmate), Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell Williams, along with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. While the album will feature fan favorites “Bus In These Streets” and “Them Changes,” one of my favorite tracks off The Beyond/Where The Giants RoamDrunk‘s first single “Show You The Way” is a sleek and soulful jazzy  track in which shimmering arpeggio cascades of synths, stuttering drums, Bruner’s imitable bass lines are paired in an incredible collaboration that features Bruner’s sultry falsetto with the imitable vocals of Kenny Loggins and Micheal McDonald. Sonically speaking the song is an uncanny synthesis of Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” and Bruner’s signature funky, retro-futuristic jazz fusion.

So how did such a high-powered collaboration come about? Thundercat has publicly mentioned his love of Loggins and his work during interviews to promote both The Beyond and the tour for the album — and it lead to his keyboardist Dennis Hamm introducing Bruner to Loggins. According to both Bruner and Hamm, Loggins then suggested bringing in Michael McDonald on the track. And as Bruner adds in press notes “I think one of the most beautiful moments of it was realizing how amazing Michael McDonald was. He would go through so many ideas and have so much to offer.” As for the song, Bruner says “That song to me is about going down the rabbit hole, taking you to another place . . . On the edge of dark, there’s the brightest light. It means a lot to me in the sense of . . .the experience that I’ve had growing up with friends and people that I’ve been around where it’s inventing them into where I come from emotionally. Sometimes it’s a pretty intense thing. The point is how weird things can get. ”

 

 

 

Last year was a rather productive and prolific year for critically applauded bassist and vocalist, Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, as he made guest appearances on two of the the year’s most critically and commercially successful albums — Kendrick Lamar‘s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic. Bruner also released what was arguably one of the best albums of 2015 The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, which further cemented his reputation as a dexterous and playful bassist and songwriter, with material that sonically channeled Stevie Wonder’s incredible 70s output — or in other words it possessed a retro-futuristic leaning that made it all sound as though it came from straight from a rusty spaceship that’s traveled several hundred lightyears across the universe. In fact, if you had been frequenting this site over the past year, you might remember that I wrote about the wobbling and propulsive bass and arpeggio synth-led single “Them Changes” and its incredibly symbolic and surreal video, which emphasized the devastating heartache at the core of the song.

“Bus In These Streets” is the first bit of new music from Thundercat since the release of The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam and the single, which is a comedic and playful ode to both our reliance and dependence on technology — and the track has Thundercat pairing his dexterous and sinuous bass lines and his ethereal crooning with Louis Cole (keys, drums and programming) playing shimmering and twinkling keys, propulsive drumming and drum programming and Flying Lotus contributing more programming and editing in a song that evokes a dreamy, distracted  self-absorption as the song’s narrator spends their time staring at their smartphone, not noticing the world pass him by — or the inherent danger he might be walking into as he stupidly stares into his phone. Certainly, it’s one of Thundercat’s most playful yet cinematic songs he’s released to date, and every time I’ve heard it, I’ve thought about how it would be perfect in a It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World-like comic ensemble film.

 

 

You can catch Thundercat as he’s playing several tour dates including a set at this year’s Afropunk Festival. Check out the tour dates below.

TOUR DATES

Aug 27 Brooklyn, NY – Afropunk Fest

Sep 10 London, UK – OnBlackheath Festival

Sep 15 Oakland, CA – Brainfeeder at Fox Theatre*

Sep 16 Oakland, CA – Brainfeeder at Fox Theatre (sold out)*

Sep 17 Los Angeles, CA – Brainfeeder at Hollywood Bowl*

 

*with Flying Lotus, Funkadelic featuring George Clinton, Shabazz Palaces & The Gaslamp Killer