A piece of music born out of the upper echelons of LA’s close-knit experimental black music community, this fantastic song has quite the intertwined backstory concerning its three contributors. This is Thundercat’s Them Changes, featuring Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington.
Thundercat, real name Stephen Bruner, is an American producer and multi-instrumentalist, most recognised for his work with the bass guitar, his native instrument. A hugely respected figure in the genre-mixing black music movement in America, his work on other people’s music is, in some respects, more well-known than his three full studio albums. Thundercat is most recognised for his work on Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly, in which he won a Grammy award for the track These Walls. The song Them Changes features on his 2015 EP The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam.
Away from the popular limelight, Thundercat is well-known for his collaborations with experimental electronic producer Flying Lotus. Born into a music-heavy family as Steven Ellison, much like Thundercat Flying Lotus’ name is as known through other’s music as it is his own despite curating four solo albums, the latest of which – You’re Dead! (also from 2015) – featured names such as Snoop Dogg and the aforementioned Kendrick Lamar.
The third piece of this collaborative song is Kamasi Washington, another multi-instrumentalist producer but with much more of a tendency towards composing with classical instruments. Born and raised in LA, he formed his first band – Young Jazz Giants – with Thundercat and his brother during their high school days. Kamasi’s debut solo album, The Epic – released in the same year as our title track – was met with critical acclaim and won him the inaugural American Music Prize. To tie all of this together, Kamasi Washington also contributed his talents to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly album!
Looking up these three artists, it seems as if this song was always destined to happen one day, such is the interlinked nature of their music careers. However, listening to it the first time, you would never believe this was a collaborations. Everyone’s work – from Thundercat’s bass to Washington’s intuitive understanding of classical tones – combines together to create a truly special song. Moreover, this is a song that goes at its own pace, but not in the sense that it’s slow and methodical – this song does not hang about, the three minutes coming and going in a flash of creativity that refuses to be bound to the norms of choruses and verses. Them Changes is one smooth adventure from beginning to end, and is a must in any music fans collection!
I really hope you enjoy this pretty important piece of music, and as always have a great week with lots of love from The Culture Cove!