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Los Angeles-based producer Thundercat, whose new album Drunk is one of the better explorations of late-night jazz/funk/soul/hip-hop experimentation, hit the NPR offices to perform songs from the weird, Adult Swim-influenced project for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. He and his band, consisting of Dennis Hamm, Justin Brown, and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, performed three songs from Drunk, including “Lava Lamp,” the nice-guy skewering “Friend Zone,” and “Them Changes.”
Thundercat is perhaps best known for his work as an instrumentalist on Kendrick Lamar’s groundbreaking To Pimp A Butterfly album, but he’s a respected and accomplished musician in his own right. In fact, he has enough industry pull to have convinced yacht-rock legends Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald to make appearances on Drunk, on the funky, spacey “Show You The Way.”
As for the performance itself: It’s quintessential Thundercat if nothing else. He rocks a bright pink hoodie adorned with both his own logo and one inspired by the Rebel Alliance insignia from the Star Wars movies and a pair of what appear to be patterned boxing trunks. He slaps his bass with gusto while belting out his standout tracks from Drunk in a falsetto voice with the pure passion and sincerity he brings to every performance. Honestly, it’s worth a watch if only to see his fingers fly on those strings — he’s a dextrous technical wizard on the bass and puts all his skills on full display for the lucky folks at NPR.