When he was playing bass with skate-punk heroes Suicidal Tendencies in the 2000s, nobody could have guessed that Stephen Bruner would become one of the most wildly eclectic artists of the 2010s, blending electronics, R&B, jazz fusion, hip-hop, and even humor into a string of stunning albums as Thundercat. To be sure, his foundation was promising: Bruner was born in Los Angeles in 1984 to a pair of musicians—dad drummed for Diana Ross—and he played in a high school jazz band with Kamasi Washington. He joined his older brother in Tendencies as a teen, but it was his work supporting genre-bending auteurs like Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus that put him on the path to his own vision. In fact, Lotus produced the first Thundercat album, 2011’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse, a rush of burbling bass and percolating synth. While 2013’s Apocalypse veered toward funky fusion, it was Bruner's extensive work on Kendrick Lamar's radical 2015 jazz-rap opus To Pimp a Butterfly that pointed to a more open-ended future. Drunk, in 2017, poured jazz, R&B, and ’80s pop into a many-hued musical snow cone topped by guests like Michael McDonald and Pharrell. And 2020’s It Is What It Is, inspired by the death of friend Mac Miller, proved that even amid personal loss and professional success, Thundercat remains dedicated to keeping it weird.
HOMETOWNLos Angeles, CA
BORNOctober 19, 1984