Thundercat: Favorite Album and Navigating a Musical Maze in the Internet Era

Around 25 years ago, a significant shift occurred in the cultural landscape with the advent of the internet. Before that, music followed clear and broad trends that were easy to identify. However, the internet has diversified musical genres and tastes, making culture more complex and less straightforward. Thundercat embodies this transformation by delving into various genres and releasing albums that inspire him, creating diverse musical experiences.

In Thundercat‘s own words, he draws inspiration from traditional sources like Allan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin and unconventional sources such as TV theme music, citing “MAS*H” as a favorite. This amalgamation of diverse cultural elements sets Thundercat apart as one of the most representative artists of our modern era. Like Jefferson Airplane epitomized the 1960s, Thundercat defines the contemporary cultural landscape.

Thundercat Favorite Albums
Rahim Fortune - The New York Times

It’s fitting that Thundercat’s favorite albums from the past 25 years stand as an outlier, a work so unique that it has never been fully assimilated into popular culture. In 1999, Slipknot released their self-titled classic album, which created a stir but did not conform to mainstream norms. However, due to its sheer enjoyment factor, it gradually made its way into the mainstream.

The album’s success was unexpected, and it fulfilled the band’s dreams, with fans worldwide reacting passionately and venues packed to capacity. As Thundercat puts it, “There’s nothing out there quite like it,” even after decades, it remains an unparalleled musical experience. Thundercat first discovered this album as a teenager, and it profoundly impacted him and his friends, leading some of them to join the band Wicked Wisdom with Jada Pinkett Smith.

What makes this album stand out, according to Thundercat, is its uniqueness, as there has never been anything quite like it before or since. Much like Thundercat, the album blends various influences without hesitation, combining different elements with a sense of joy and spontaneity. Corey Taylor, a member of Slipknot, mentions some of the band’s influences on the album, including Faith No More, Neurosis, Korn, Obituary, Acid Bath, Public Enemy, Anthrax, and NWA.

This singular and outlaw spirit gave the album a distinctive and connective quality, making it both musically innovative and emotionally resonant. Thundercat has carried this album with him throughout his life, passing it down to his daughter as a source of inspiration. He continues to appreciate how this album can expand young minds and ears, much like it did for him and his friends during their teenage years.