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Album Review: It Is What It Is by Thundercat

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Thundercat, or Stephen Bruner is an American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. He has worked with several high profile artists like Flying Lotus. It Is What It Is marks his fourth studio album.

The first track off the album is Lost In Space / Great Scott / 22-26. It opens up with his falsetto voice with several jazz-influenced instruments. It definitely sets the tone of the album and welcomes us back to his style of music.

We smoothly move into Innerstellar Love. As always, you have some killer bass licks in here. From this track on, you can tell that Thundercat is going to take us on a space and jazz-infused trip. There's also a nice saxophone part from Kamasi Washington. I love the calming vocals he adds over the instrumental break.

Next, we have I Love Louis Cole. The track features a loud drum beat, almost electronic in sound, as well as a synthesizer. This track is about his friend and musical artist, Louis Cole. He has the second verse, which is eerily similar to Thundercat. He makes a quick jab at the Exxon oil spill as well as saying how they like to party together.

Black Qualls is more of a funk track that features quite a few other artists, especially Childish Gambino. Childish Gambino originally wasn't on this version when they released the single, but was later added. Donald Glover really pours his soul into the first part of the verse which definitely tells me this was a nice addition.

After that, we go to Miguel's Happy Dance. The track talks about this Miguel character and how this person is in pain. Thundercat tells him that it's okay and that he should try dancing his pain away. He keeps reassuring this person throughout the track, which is on top of the synth chords that are repeated. In my opinion, this track is just a little repetitive instrumentally and too free-form lyrically.

How Sway is a quick interlude or intermission in the album. It mostly has the bass and piano parts trading lines back and forth. It's a nice, quick track to break the normal flow of the album.

Funny Thing brings us back to a vocal track. This is another funk like track with the electric bass-like groove they have going on. It's not much longer, just a little under two minutes long. This is another track talking about wanting to party with this person.

On the next track, Overseas, we have comedian and rapper Zack Fox. He makes a quick joke about being the pilot of a plane. He also finds out that Thundercat is on this plane ride and there is a certain act going on.

After that, we come to Dragonball Durag. We have more of the funk beats with the groove going on with the bass. On this track, Thundercat is trying to impress this girl and was hoping that she likes his durag. Not really a new theme by now on this album.

How I Feel is another short interlude track. There's a nice layer of vocals added throughout the interlude. The piano and repeated arpeggios give it a nice space, atmosphere-like vibe.

King Of The Hill has Thundercat and BADBADNOTGOOD working together. Since they have similar musical styles, I was really pleased to listen to this track. They seem to have some chemistry on this track and it is definitely a highlight of the album.

Another soulful track off of the album is Unrequited Love. As much as I love Thundercat's sound, by this time of the album, I feel like we're stuck in the same trance of tracks and sound. Most of the tracks seem to mesh together the longer you listen to the record.

Fair Chance changes it up a little bit since it features Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B. This track is about the late Mac Miller. For a lot of artists, hearing about Mac Miller pass away was devastating news. Artists are still paying tribute to him after nearly two years. It's safe to say that he was a huge influence and friend to many people.

We have another quick interlude track before the closing. Existential Dread is about trying to find the good, even though there are so many bad and terrible things happening in the world right now.

The last and longest track off the album is the title track, It Is What It Is. This is another huge tribute to Mac Miller. A lot of tracks on this album are for Mac Miller since both of them have worked together in the past. It's nice to see him remembering Mac through music, especially with the huge instrumental towards the end of the track to end the album.

Overall Rating: 7/10
Favorite Tracks: Interstellar Love, Black Qualls, King Of The Hill

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