Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner’s claim to fame is his virtuosic skill with the six-string electric bass, a talent he’s lent to Suicidal Tendencies, Flying Lotus, and Erykah Badu. He’s also building an impressive body of work as a solo artist (his newest EP The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam is mandatory). But even though he writes his own lyrics and belts them out in a falsetto reminiscent of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, his reputation as a for-hire bassist has lead me to closer analysis of his musical choices than his lyrical ones.
“Tron Song,” from Thundercat’s 2013 album Apocalypse, is the type of song that doesn’t invite lyrical scrutiny. Lines like “Don’t you know you rock my world” and “Don’t ever wonder where I’m going / I always come back to you” are so vague and generally lovelorn, I always assumed he was serenading a love interest and left it at that. But the song is actually about his cat, and ain’t that always the way? What sounds like a song about romantic love turns out to be about the songwriter’s parent or professor or car or preferred dessert. “Thunders’ li’l girl suggested we write a song about their cat… so we did,” said producer Flying Lotus in a tweet. I’d have never known or even wondered what “Tron Song” was about otherwise, but knowing the backstory makes me much more comfortable with the Eric Andre-directed video in which Thundercat relieves himself in a litter box.