AOTY 2021
Thundercat - It Is What It Is
Critic Score
Based on 30 reviews
2020 Ratings: #120 / 821
Year End Rank: #23
User Score
2020 Ratings: #264
Liked by 92 people
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Spill Magazine

In case you forgot, or take nothing else away from the musical nuance of It Is What It Is, Thundercat is a master of all things funky, a king of musical innovation, an absolute guru of the groove, and he will eat your bass for breakfast.


It Is What It Is manifests as a beautiful ebb and flow of emotional states, philosophical musings and plain old comedy.


It Is What It Is takes the versatility beyond music, as Thundercat becomes a philosopher, therapist, lover, guide, and friend.

As on the earlier Thundercat LPs, outer space and homeboy escapades, comic courtship and elusive companionship, and philosophical insights also inform the material.

From funk struts to tender touches, Thundercat's ascension continues rapidly here.


It Is What It Is isn’t so much a showcase for the bass, though. Instead, it functions more as a modern-day love letter to a certain bandwidth of the R&B spectrum that we would all do well to rediscover.

The Line of Best Fit

On It Is What It Is, Stephen Bruner’s eccentric hyperactivity is on full display, bouncing from jittery bass chops to fat West Coast funk. He balances the spacey jazz fusion of his early records with the signature neo-yacht rock perfected on Drunk.

The Arts Desk
Buoyed by a talent currently firing at full-blast, the Californian sunshine he’s offering to the world is sharpened by its shadows.
Northern Transmissions

It Is What It Is is electric with wonderful performances from some of the most talented people in music today. While it’s heady and consistently interesting, there is so much here in its relatively fast paced 40 minutes for every type of music fan to fall in love with.

FLOOD Magazine

Thundercat continues to alchemize his inimitable style as a honeyed singer, whipsmart producer, and lithe bassist.

It’s an album embracing difference, accepting highs and lows: just what we need right now.
Thundercat’s mellow record is a welcome release. It’s an incredibly easy album to listen to, but rather than blend into the noise of your setting, it holds your attention in full. It Is What It Is has an overwhelming sense of positivity – happy melodies overpower even the more reflective lyrics and give us the escape we need.
The Independent
What’s impressive is how Thundercat makes this music, with its complex structures and zigzagging rhythms, so human.

The jazz-fusion bassline don reins in the funk to honour his fallen friend, though also lets loose with the likes of Childish Gambino by his side.


It Is What It Is sparkles with inventive songwriting, chunky production and pervasive good vibes, a worthwhile addition to any R&B or jazz fan’s collection.

The LP’s darker moments are its most affecting, but the playful brushes of humour throughout never diminish anything.
Under The Radar
Even at its worst, Bruner’s songs remain enjoyable through his sharp, and often dazzling, bass playing. Emotionally and musically, he has kept pushing forward on this new record.
The myriad of blends Thundercat presents here, be it jazz-fusion, electronic dance grooves, or space-like jazz odysseys, aren’t all well-polished here, but they’re still as goofy and enjoyable as Thundercat’s songwriting track record tends to be.
Q Magazine
Soft soul, gibbering jazz fusion and the cyber-futurism of overseer Flying Lotus still works a collective shock.

It Is What It Is feels understated, but more powerful for this restraint.

Crack Magazine

This might be a shorter and more svelte set than Drunk, but it’s the best inventory of Thundercat’s bohemian artistry.


Three years after his 2017 opus Drunk, Bruner returns with more fleet-fingered jams and abstracted musings, this time a little more unpolished.

Beats Per Minute

We’re left with the knowledge that beneath his larger-than-life persona, Thundercat has a giant heart, and It Is What It Is is the best display of his enormous empathy yet, even if it does have a few unnecessary goofs along the way.

The Sydney Morning Herald

It Is What It Is is overall a more cohesive LP than Drunk, while still showcasing Thundercat’s virtuosic talent on bass, and his maturing song-writing.

The Young Folks
Despite the fun times not feeling as great as they used to and whatever emotions he’s not willing to confront, Thundercat still knows how to craft a record. And for whatever he’s lost or missed along the way, it is what it is.
Rolling Stone
The songs are frequently quick-hitters, just a couple minutes long, and they can often leave you dizzy or bewildered. Sometimes, you’ll want to strap in and tunnel deeper; other times, you might want to pull off your headphones and come up for air.
Loud and Quiet
The majority of the album’s minutes are filled with gorgeous musicianship and compelling lyrics, but the album never recovers from its lacklustre middle section. It is what it is.
The Observer
The drawback here is not that Bruner hasn’t made the out-and-out pop album his narrative arc as an artist might demand. Nor is it that he is showcasing his conservatoire-grade talents. It is, perhaps, that he doesn’t sit with one emotion, be it high or low, for a sustained length of time.
The Needle Drop

Thundercat's muddy mixes remain his Achilles' heel on the otherwise enjoyable It Is What It Is.

Although he only surprised me for a few moments on this new album, even though he's been globally applying the same formulas for a few years now, Thundercat's music remains so unique, warm and hypnotic that I'll always love what he does. That's also why It Is What It Is also seduced me.

When you think about it and compare, musically It Is What It Is is clearly in the continuity of the previous Drunk, with a lot of sound similarities, a recognizable musical paw that is mainly explained by the ... read more
Funky Therapy

Funk and fun. That's how Steven Bruner (aka Thundercat) sums up his music. Sometimes even his buddies call him "the goofy". "Fou-fou", as we say in French. As proof, the Los Angeles-based bassist has been carrying his Pikachu bag around the world, sharing his love for manga with his fanbase through a kitsch and jubilant jazz-funk for almost a decade. In 2017 he was "Drunk", yet the interstellar troubadour is still not hungover. As shown by his fourth ... read more
While I haven't yet heard a full-length album from Thundercat aside from this, from the endless features he's done with Flying Lotus and other artists, I was really hyped to hear this. His vocals have this very unique and smooth style to them and his bass playing skills are literally sent from heaven. All of those things are qualities I like about his music, so how does that translate into this new album?

The answer is: pretty damn well!

In only 37 minutes Thundercat puts on an atmospheric, ... read more
Thundercat is a household name at this point. He’s released 3 prior albums of pure jazz fantasy and whimsical theme. Here comes his 4th LP, moseying along here like a cowboy the town was expecting. Since this record’s announcement, fans and music listeners alike have been quite inquisitive as to how it would sound. And in my opinion...

“It Is What It Is” is his best album. Condensed, to-the-point, and not as meandering as his past releases, this record sees Thundercat ... read more
I’ve listened to this a while ago and I don’t really have much to say, I guess I’ll just say that it’s a worse Drunk. Still some amazing tracks though.
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Added on: January 15, 2020