Thundercat (musician)

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Thundercat (26638128678).jpg
Thundercat performing in Sydney (2018)
Background information
Birth nameStephen Lee Bruner
Born (1984-10-19) October 19, 1984 (age 35)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Musician
  • multi-instrumentalist
  • record producer
  • Bass guitar
  • vocals
  • guitar
  • keyboards
  • drums
Years active2000–present
Associated acts

Stephen Lee Bruner (born October 19, 1984),[2] better known by his stage name Thundercat, is an American musician, record producer, singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, California. First coming to prominence as a member of crossover thrash band Suicidal Tendencies, he has since released four solo studio albums and is noted for his work with producer Flying Lotus and his appearance on Kendrick Lamar's critically acclaimed 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly.[3] In 2016, Thundercat won a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Performance for his work on the track "These Walls" from To Pimp a Butterfly.

Music career[edit]

Born into a family of musicians, Bruner began playing the bass at an early age: by 15 he had a minor hit in Germany as a member of the boy band No Curfew. A year later he joined his brother Ronald Jr. as a member of the Los Angeles punk band Suicidal Tendencies, replacing former bass player Josh Paul.

Along with his band duties Bruner is also a session musician, acclaimed for his work on Erykah Badu's New Amerykah (2008) and Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma (2010). He released his first solo album in 2011, The Golden Age of Apocalypse, which featured production from Flying Lotus, and was influenced by 1970s fusion artists such as Stanley Clarke and George Duke. The next two years saw a return to the recording studio with fellow Brainfeeder artist Flying Lotus, with contributions to the Lotus's Until the Quiet Comes (2012) and You're Dead! (2014), and the release of Thundercat's second album Apocalypse (2013).[4]

To Pimp a Butterfly[edit]

Bruner has been described as being a major contributor to and "at the creative epicenter" of Kendrick Lamar's critically acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly.[5]

Along with the involvements with previous artists, Thundercat draws inspiration from jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Mary Lou Williams and Ron Carter. Through this, he is frequently able to renew elements from old soul, funk, and jazz albums. Known as "digging in the crates", this method is best used to bring the sound, feel and emotion he wants to convey in his music. An example of this can be heard on his EP released in 2015 titled The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam. The most popular track on this EP titled Them Changes, also shares this creative renewal element. Them Changes contains a drum sample from the 1977 track "Footsteps in the Dark" by the Isley Brothers, the same sample used in Ice Cube's It Was A Good Day.

In 2016, Bruner revealed to XXL that he is working on a new album with Flying Lotus as a main contributor. In May of that year, Bruner appeared live with Red Hot Chili Peppers to play additional bass on their song "Go Robot" at iHeartRadio's release party for the band's 2016 album The Getaway. In August 2016, Bruner appeared live with singers Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald in Chicago.


In June 2017, Thundercat appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote his studio album Drunk with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins.[6]


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions

US Heat
The Golden Age of Apocalypse
  • Released: August 29, 2011
  • Label: Brainfeeder
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
9 18
  • Released: July 9, 2013
  • Label: Brainfeeder
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
194 2 11
  • Released: February 24, 2017[11]
  • Label: Brainfeeder
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
50 6
"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.


With Flying Lotus[edit]

With Kendrick Lamar[edit]

With Kamasi Washington[edit]

With Young Jazz Giants[edit]

  • Young Jazz Giants (2004)

With Sa-Ra Creative Partners[edit]

With Erykah Badu[edit]

With Suicidal Tendencies[edit]

With Keziah Jones[edit]

With Bilal[edit]

With Vic Mensa[edit]

With Childish Gambino[edit]

With Dethklok[edit]

With Mac Miller[edit]

With Kimbra[edit]

With Jhene Aiko[edit]

With Taylor McFerrin[edit]

With Ty Dolla Sign[edit]

With Kirk Knight[edit]

With Terrace Martin[edit]

With N.E.R.D[edit]

With Janelle Monae[edit]

With Travis Scott[edit]

With Kali Uchis[edit]


  1. ^ Newman, Jason (August 22, 2011). "Thundercat's Acid-Jazz Apocalypse". MTV News. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  2. ^ "The Birth of Stephen Bruner". California Birth Index, 1905 - 1995. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  3. ^ "Rising: Thundercat | Features". Pitchfork. 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
  4. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Apocalypse - Thundercat : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
  5. ^ Weiss, Jeff. "Meet Thundercat, the Jazz-Fusion Genius Behind Kendrick Lamar's 'Butterfly'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  6. ^ The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (2017-06-06), Thundercat ft. Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins: Show You the Way, retrieved 2017-06-06
  7. ^ "Thundercat - Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  8. ^ "Thundercat - Top Dance/Electronic Albums". Billboard. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  9. ^ "Thundercat - Heatseeker Albums". Billboard. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  10. ^ "Thundercat - R&B Albums". Billboard. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  11. ^ Mertens, Max (January 25, 2017). "Thundercat Announces Third Album 'Drunk' Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, Flying Lotus, and More". Vice. Retrieved February 22, 2017.