Thundercat’s groovy “Them Changes” brings back the funk through a powerful heartbreak narrative
’70s funk, while revered by many, is something that is harder to hear on today’s airwaves than in decades past. While mainstream artists like Bruno Mars claim to have funk influences, it’s harder to hear, as it’s working alongside the pop genre rather than acting as a genre in its own right.
Of course, this isn’t to say that there aren’t artists out there who are still heavily influenced by that funk genre we’ve all come to love and respect…it just takes more work to find, which is why Thundercat’s 2015 single “Them Changes” stands out among the crowd.
Listen: “Them Changes” – Thundercat
The song opens with a sample of the beat from The Isley Brothers’s “Footsteps in the Dark,” and quickly adds to it a bass line, both working together to make the song immediately mesmerizing. This upbeat R&B groove coupled with the song’s descriptive and melodramatic lyrics make it hard to leave the story; the scene of the crime.
There’s blood on the floor-
And I can’t find my heart!
These lyrics, sung against the playful bass line, help to bring gravity and weight to “Them Changes”. While the intro is fun, the story being painted through the lyrics is one of heartbreak, which, to Thundercat, is a heinous crime.
Where did it go?
Did I leave it in the cold?
So please give it back,
‘cause it’s not yours to take.
Thundercat is personifying his heart, here, making it the subject of the song’s opening verse. We’ve entered a crime scene, and though there’s blood all around, this mess isn’t the forefront of the story. Instead, it’s imagery grounding us in this place, and we need to focus on finding his heart.
It must’ve fell when I lost my mind
Deep in the cut, drowning in the pain
Somebody help, ‘cause I can’t find my way
Nobody move, nobody move
This leads us to Thundercat’s ultimate question, “why in the world would I give my heart to you?” This is a feeling many have come to know but Thundercat has created this narrative in a whole new light. This detailed imagery leads listeners to see that, much like the crime scene described in this song, Thundercat is himself a “heartless, broken mess.”
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📸 © Thundercat