Written By: Ethan Griggs
My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com
Ronald Bruner, Jr. just released his first solo album, but he was already destined to be a star in the music industry before that. He comes from the music business equivalent of the Manning family; as the brother of both Stephen Bruner (the bass virtuoso Thundercat) and Jameel Bruner (formerly of the Internet), Ronald has shown up on a number of prominent hip-hop, R&B, and soul records this past decade. First hitting the skins when he was only two years old, Bruner has performed with the likes of Prince, Wayne Shorter, Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, and Kendrick Lamar. He also used to drum for the hardcore band Suicidal Tendencies, so Bruner’s musical pallet has a broad spectrum painted on to it.
On his debut solo album, Triumph, Bruner makes the move as an artist towards looking inward at his own reality and emotions. He truly believes that love can change the world. On “Take The Time”, a standout single towards the front end of his album featuring his bass playing brother, Bruner pleads for the listener to “Take the time to tell someone you never met you really love their soul/Tell them now/It’s all from the heart. Bruner is calling on the world to use the healing powers of love, even though it’s “full of controversy.” The artist’s vision of unity is scattered although his debut for World Galaxy/Alpha Pub Records.
The lyrics on the record are definitely not the only “triumph” of the music – no pun intended. While Bruner’s songwriting is truly on point, the amazing musicianship and production on this record should absolutely not be underestimated. Like stated above, the record features the musical virtuosity of Thundercat and Kamasi Washington (both Bruners played on his 2015 debut The Epic). Ronald Bruner, Jr. himself, however, remains the true star of the band; his drumming is in tip-top shape on tracks like the wild, time-changing jazz-fusion epic “Geome Deome”. Clocking in at nearly eight minutes, the track sounds like it could’ve been directly lifted off Flying Lotus’s You’re Dead! (another record Bruner was involved with the making of). The song features an insane keytar solo by the late George Duke. “Open The Gate” is an even longer exploration into modern jazz, clocking in at ten minutes.
Don’t let the jazz tendencies of the album fool you, though. The influence of Michael Jackson, Prince, Frank Ocean and many other soul-superstars can be heard all over this record. On “Doesn’t Matter”, both Bruner and the featured Taylor “Dov” Graves pursue the idea of a relationship that is one sided; “It doesn’t matter if you love me/Oh, girl, my love is unconditional”. Fan’s of D’Angelo and the like will love the sweet soul of Triumph, and there’s enough extra-curricular ventures into jazz and rock music that will keep the listener busy until Bruner’s next album arrives.