Thundercat on Meeting Kendrick Lamar for the First Time - Rolling Stone
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The First Time: Thundercat

Thundercat recalls hanging out with Snoop Dogg, making his first song, and making Kendrick Lamar laugh

The first time Stephen Bruner comfortably called himself “Thundercat” was when he met Erykah Badu.

“I was like, ‘Um my name is Thundercat. Hi,'” he says while laughing on the latest segment of “The First Time.” Before Thundercat kicked off his solo career in 2011, he played bass for Erykah Badu, Suicidal Tendencies, and Snoop Dogg.

“I was in Snoop’s band for a few years,” Thundercat says. “He called me to hang out in the room one time, ’cause we were talking about music and stuff. I brought up Frank Zappa and I feel like I remember him being like, ‘What’s that?’ And I think I played him, was it ‘Saint Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast’?”

Before the collaborations, the features, the albums, he wrote his first song with his cousin. During the interview, he remembers his cousin playing the trumpet while he played the bass.

“We were like, ‘Yo, we’re producers,'” he recalls. “It is official, B. Nothing before mattered. It doesn’t matter. We make music, we need business cards.”

Later in the episode, he recalls falling in love with an album at 10 years old.

“It was Jaco Pastorius’ self-titled album. And after hearing ‘Portrait of Tracy,’ I was done. I was like, ‘Everybody sucks,'” he says.

The Los Angeles native was eventually recruited by Kendrick Lamar in 2015 to contribute to his Grammy-winning album To Pimp a Butterfly. But, as he explains, the first time he made Lamar laugh is something he will never forget.

“It was the hardest thing to do, to make him laugh. He’s real serious, you know. But I think it was maybe one or two times I got a couple smirks out of him where he was just like, ‘You’re an idiot,'” he says. “You can hear it on Untitled, where we were sitting there playing the song ‘Head Is the Answer.’ You can see the smile on his face was genuinely, like, tight.”

Thundercat has recently released a new song titled, “Fair Chance” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B, which is a tribute to the late Mac Miller. The track is off his upcoming LP It Is What It Is, out April 3rd on Brainfeeder. The album features Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, Childish Gambino, and comedian/rapper Zack Fox.


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