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Thundercat the Great

We went to the musical wizard's house to talk about his bizarre and brilliant new opus, 'Drunk.'

by Paul Thompson
27 February 2017, 1:12am

It's quiet at Thundercat's place. The North Hollywood apartment is sparsely appointed, except for the comic book collectibles—those skew Marvel, because Marvel nailed the human halves of stories. There's a Captain America shield, a worn guitar that barely made it home from tour with Erykah Badu, and a 78-inch TV, muted.

"You don't have to engage," Thundercat says, gesturing at the TV while he feels around for a lighter. "You have a means to escape. A lot of the time, people say 'That's what we don't need right now!' and it's like, shut the fuck up. This shit has been terrible." He lights incense and circles a coffee table a few times before finding the right place to set it down. "I'm not saying now is not the time to fight, but you have to have the constitution to wanna fight. You have to do it by staying sane."

The 32-year-old, born Stephen Bruner, has spent the last decade-plus touring, writing, and recording with a litany of music's biggest names: Badu, Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Ty Dolla $ign, et al. But in the past handful of years, he's distinguished himself as an extraordinary solo artist in his own right. Apocalypse, his 2013 sophomore set, was a masterwork of jazz-fusion; The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam, a 16-minute dispatch from 2015, was nearly as sparse as the living room, looking for meaning in gaps and crevices. Now, the virtuoso bassist (and endlessly eccentric lyricist) is poised to break through to his widest audience yet with his third album, Drunk. But for the moment, he's trying to tune that out.

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