Thundercat emerges from the background on newest album


If it weren’t for his performances on To Pimp a Butterfly, Thundercat might be releasing his newest album to the same cult acclaim as before. But with his recent boost in collaboration, Thundercat is ready to take the soul world by storm on his new solo LP Drunk.

Thundercat made his way into the music scene as a bass player, accompanying the likes of Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus. However, it wasn’t until his seminal work on To Pimp a Butterfly with Kendrick Lamar that Thundercat became a big name in music. Thundercat, and his neo-soul and psychedelic vibes, brought TPAB its signature feel, making it such an impressive LP and bringing live performances an extra personal dimension. Now, he is ready to capitalize on his fame with his new solo record Drunk, bringing in a few features and heavy instrumentation to throw a bunch of different sounds at the listener, hoping that some of it sticks.

And more often than not, Thundercat finds success. Tracks such as “Tokyo” and “Walk On By,” which features Kendrick Lamar, feel as if they could have been leading singles for this LP, displaying the smooth grooves and occasional surprises that made Thundercat such an emerging figure in soul and hip hop.

On the surface, many songs seem too short and don’t feel fleshed out, but the intention of making certain tracks short is to transition from one idea to another with ease. Thundercat uses short sound bytes such as those on “Rabbot Ho,” “Jethro” and “Jameel’s Space Ride” to introduce ideas, successfully providing the listener with a sample, or tease, of things that are to be explored further on the album. A good comparison would be to Madvillainy—even though these two albums differ in genre, they both use track length to direct the listener’s attention.

At times, Thundercat utilizes a feature to flesh out a song’s idea and create what could serve as breakout songs for this LP. However, the experience often varies from feature to feature. Occasionally, Thundercat’s instrumentation fails to hold up to a featured artist’s performance. On “Drink Dat,” Thundercat calls on Wiz Khalifa but doesn’t provide the song with the same deep grooves and beats he’s brought to the table on nearly every track Drunk has to offer, making Wiz’s guest vocals fall flat.

The main difference between Thundercat’s solo work and that with rappers, or other artists, is that on his own, Thundercat tries everything he possibly can, whereas when collaborating he refines his sound in an attempt to get as close to flawless as possible. Whether it’s an artistic choice or just a massive dump of tracks sitting in Thundercat’s archives, Drunk feels massive. Although it only lasts around 50 minutes, one full listen of this record is a difficult task to get through.

Despite its flaws, Drunk is far from a failure. There are more than enough tracks to please soul fans no matter what they’re looking for. It’s just Thundercat’s style to give the listener more than they might enjoy, and honestly that brings this project’s experience down a bit. Other than that slight pitfall, Drunk is an engaging and exciting release that blends genres to create an overall enjoyable experience. Barring poor reviews, Drunk will likely make Thundercat one of the biggest names
in soul.

Rating: 7/10