Thundercat (Stephen Bruner) released his most recent album, It Is What It Is, in the spring of 2020. The record won Best Progressive R&B Album at the 63rd Grammy Awards and features musical contributions from Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole, Pedro Martins and Zack Fox. Thundercat produced the record with his longtime partner Flying Lotus, who was Grammy-nominated in the “Producer of the Year” category for his work on the album.
It Is What It Is follows Bruner’s game-changing third album Drunk (2017), which completed his transition from virtuoso bassist to bonafide star and cemented his reputation as a unique voice that transcends genre.
“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says about It Is What It Is. Concurrently, the tragic passing of his friend Mac Miller in September 2018 had a profound effect on Thundercat and the making of It Is What It Is. “Losing Mac was extremely difficult,” he explains. “I had to take that pain in and learn from it and grow from it. It sobered me up… it shook the ground for all of us in the artist community.”
Thundercat describes the album as “a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.” Clearly, however, fans understood It Is What It Is, an unexpectedly apt title for when it arrived. In addition to its Grammy win, the album and its songs landed on dozens of year-end lists and roundups at Pitchfork, Stereogum, NPR, Vulture and Allmusic — to name a few.