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Thundercat can do a bit of everything – jazz, hip-hop, R&B – and has played with everyone from Suicidal Tendencies to Kendrick Lamar. But even that resume didn’t prepare him or his team for one special guest performance.

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Photo: John Davisson

Thundercat

Thundercat, who dabbles in and is a fan of stand-up comedy when he’s not blazing up and down the six-string bass, already had comedian Hannibal Buress on the bill with him for a stop at Irving Plaza in New York.

“Dave Chappelle was going to be in New York and reached out, said he would love to do something, was a big fan of Thundercat,” Paradigm’s Evan Hancock told Pollstar.  “It was sort of one of those moments where you hold your breath. No one wanted to ask him what he wanted to do because he can do whatever he wants!

“Thunder goes out for the encore and Dave grabs the mic and bursts onstage…. Our jaws were on the floor. It felt like such a moment, and a culmination of a long time, and the place was going to explode,” said Hancock, who has booked Thundercat since 2013.


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Photo: John Davisson

Thundercat

Thundercat has written, produced, or recorded with dozens of established stars, with everyone from Michael McDonald to Snoop Dogg. But he started to gain traction as a solo artist after working with electronic/hip-hop musician Flying Lotus, who encouraged Thundercat to write and perform on his own.

“For Thunder, it was as much getting used to it and getting out on the road and trying it and rehearsing as anything,” said Dominic Smith of Really Happening, which manages both Thundercat and Flying Lotus. “It was a team effort to tell him, ‘No, you are in the middle of the stage. You are the frontman, not the bass player anymore. The act.’ The talent was always absolutely obvious.”

That growth process began with small clubs in 2015, and this year a March headline run of 500- to 700-cap rooms sold out. He’s doing festivals this summer, and this fall is larger clubs, multiples in many markets and strong business in secondary and tertiary markets, according to Hancock, who said Thundercat’s fans include everyone from older jazz fans, to younger hip-hop kids, to hippies to “Internet beat people” who follow Thundercat’s always entertaining social media.