Editors’ Notes Bassist-singer-songwriter Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat, is probably the most accomplished musician—technically, culturally, whatever—to have written not one but several songs about his cat. An irrepressible weirdo weaned on jazz, fusion, punk, and R&B, Bruner has become a key figure (along with collaborators Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus) at the vanguard of black music in the 21st century, mixing silly humor with insanely sophisticated compositions, irreverence with social consciousness, Afrocentric historicity with a gamer’s attention span. Even when Bruner meditates on loss—he’s written about the death of collaborator Austin Peralta and was close friends with the late Mac Miller—he does so with Zen lightness and cosmic self-effacement, resolved to find joy even when joy feels impossible. Or, as he put it to Apple Music before the release of 2020’s excellent It Is What It Is: “There’s always room to be stupid.”

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