The day that I have personally been waiting for, for what seems like ages, has finally come. Of course, the event I’m talking about is the highly anticipated release of Thundercat’s fourth studio album entitled It is What it is. I’ve been paying extremely close attention to all the moves he’s been making leading up to this release and I’ve even written up most of the singles he dropped prior to the entire project, so I was waiting with bated breath for some time now. Considering I’ve always been a massive fan of his hyper-charged bass skills mixed with his ability to incorporate all different genres of music into one fully encompassed genre of his own, I was expecting nothing short of amazing from this album.
I believe he totally delivered on this record for multiple reasons. He had fun with certain themes on fun-loving songs while diving deeper into more personal issues he has dealt with on others, always demonstrating his immense talent on the bass guitar. His emotions are in full effect, sometimes being portrayed in a lighthearted manner as if he’s laughing at how crazy he can get about someone he loves, while other times truly putting his comedic persona on the backburner and laying his devastations and losses on the table in order to be vulnerable to his fans. While some of these emotions can cut deep within, he delivers these messages in an artistically digestible way, creating instrumentals of all different kinds to convey the meaning behind his words and not just the words themselves. While some songs have you lost in the madness that his rapidly moving fingers create on the frets of his guitar, he captivates your attention and created this album in a similar fashion as his other offerings, making it feel as if you can’t exit the album in the middle and you must listen all the way through.
The singles set the precedent for the project, mixing songs off all different concepts, sounds, and subject matter. “Dragonball Durag” mixed his love for the ever so popular anime franchise with his constant struggle to find love that is reciprocated in the same way. While the lyrics and music video might’ve been extremely comical, at the root of everything, this is his take on a love song that can be processed by fans of all types, which is a spectacle on its own. On “Black Qualls”, a groovy, swagger-filled, old-school funk beat is brought to life with a new-aged spin, brought about by the overly talented bassist. What’s even more intriguing about this song is his ability to bring a new aged artist like Steve Lacy who is bringing a new name to soul music together with an absolute legend like Steve Arrington who has been making hits in the genre for longer than these artists might’ve been alive. Finally, on “Fair Chance”, he dives deep into the emotional hole he was left when his dear friend Mac Miller passed away. The two had a close relationship both musically and personally, and so did Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B, so it made sense that the three came together to both mourn but also celebrate their beloved friend on this tender, meaningful track.
Additionally, although I’m pretty much a fan of every song on this project even beyond just the singles, there are certain tracks that really reminisce in my mind, standing out among the rest. One I would have to mention is “Unrequited Love”, which begins with a hyperactive bassline that transitions into a slow and serene love ballad that Thundercat’s falsetto voice just floats on. While he takes a more serious approach to the idea of love, he is just absolutely let down with the fact that he falls so deeply in love with others and they just don’t reciprocate his feelings. Even after the relationship he has with this woman ends, he struggles to overcome these feelings and his heartbreaks, which can be felt within the lyrics, his voice, and especially the somber instrumental.
“Overseas” is another favorite of mine, and although it features the hilarious Zack Fox who has been making moves within the music industry with his comedic parodies, he doesn’t actually rap at all. This upbeat, peppy song seems to be about a new flame that Thundercat has taken a liking to. He wants to show her the world, flying to places like Brazil, Japan, and Russia, seemingly wanting everyone to be able to see his new love interest. Zack Fox actually speaks as the captain of the airplane, sharing some hysterical commentary about recognizing Thundercat in first class as he’s partaking in some intimate activities with the woman he was singing about earlier on in the song.
Finally, I think personally my absolute favorite song is “Funny Thing”. This song takes a beyond deep and overly rhythmic bassline mixed with futuristic synths and moving percussion to create a foundation for a song that just makes you feel good inside. It personally makes me want to get up and move around, although I usually settle for a consistent head bob most of the time. While being another take on the reoccurring theme of love within this album, he seems to be at a party having a good time when he wants to make a move on this girl. He has some liquid courage in his system and sees that the girl is slightly intoxicated as well, so he knows that this might be a good opportunity to see if they can vibe. Later in the track, he asks someone to monitor his phone because he’s worried that if he drinks too much, he’s going to say something he’ll regret and ruin the fun time they’ve created together, because he knows this has happened in the past.
As I mentioned before, I haven’t noticed a single song I didn’t enjoy for one reason or another after multiple listens all the way through. Some songs are wild, outrageous, and hectic, but this is done intentionally to mimic the constantly moving mind of Thundercat. Other tracks slow things way down, allowing his high singing voice to transcend listeners to another state of mind. Then there are other songs that fuse multiple genres into one usually funky sound that can’t be placed in a box or labeled. While fans have been waiting for this project for a few years, there’s always a possibility that it flops and doesn’t live up to the expectations that listeners have built during the hiatus. I’m beyond pleased to say that It is What it is has lived up to all of my expectations and from the looks of the opinions of others that I’ve seen, they couldn’t agree more. While I am sad that this could very well mean that we have to wait another few years before another new album surfaces, I’m still looking forward to continuing to play this album on repeat and truly diving into all of its artistry that I haven’t even uncovered after my first few listens. Whether you want to relax, dance, get in touch with your emotions, or just listen to some incredible new music, make it a priority to listen to It is What it is by Thundercat as soon as you possibly can.