BROCKHAMPTON Heals Old Wounds with GINGER
BROCKHAMPTON is an American rap collective based out of San Marcos, Texas. The self-proclaimed boyband reached stardom through the release of their SATURATION trilogy back in 2017, where the group released three full-length LPs within months of each other, all of them dense with potent lyricism, incredible production, and even some semblance of lore and world-building.
By the time the band released SATURATION III , they’d cultivated a dedicated, almost cult-ish fan base, with millions of views on their music videos and live shows that were sold out to the nosebleeds. There seemed to be no way the boys could stop their forward momentum. They’d even signed a million dollar deal with recording label, RCA Records.
And then, the news of Ameer Vann caught fire.
BROCKHAMPTON had a fourth album in the works titled Puppy, however the project was soon delayed due to allegations of sexual misconduct and emotional trauma, levied against ex-member, Ameer Vann. When these allegations turned out to be true, the boyband addressed them in a Twitter post (to the left), stating that Ameer was no longer apart of the group, and that they had been lied to.
This decision, though in line with the band’s brand and cultural sensitivity, as well as their own personal morals, divided their fan base. Fans that were happy about the decision and praised them for sticking to their standards, no matter who it may have been, clashed with those who thought their verdict was unfair and completely out of left field.
This, plus the obvious pain and confusion the members themselves felt towards the situation, drove them to cancel the remaining dates of their tour, as well as stop the production of Puppy all-together, due to Vann’s heavy presence and influence on the project.
During these few months, the band went on hiatus, in order to regroup and recover from the incident.
On August 26, 2018, after the release of various tracks, listed under the the boyband dropped their fourth official studio album, iridescence. The album was a drastic difference to their earlier projects, and even though it was received fairly well, even reaching number one on the US Billboard 200, making it the group’s first chart-topping album, it seemed as though the band hadn’t fully come to grips with who they were as artists after their departure from Ameer.
The band themselves seemed to empathize with the way their fans felt, and took another hiatus after their i’ll be there tour, bleeding up into the next year, where vocalist Kevin Abstract dropped his second album, Arizona Baby in April. Soon after, he announced on an Instagram story that BROCKHAMPTON were working on their fifth studio album, GINGER.
When the album finally dropped just this past week, the response was undeniably positive. On this album, BROCKHAMPTON seems to have reached a state of maturity and introspection that could only come from the experiences and lessons they’d learned throughout this entire ordeal. If iridescence was the representation of the boys’ ambivalence, then GINGER is definitely their direct response to everything that has happened in their lives in the past year and a half.
The opening track NO HALO, which feature rising artist Deb Never, thrusts listeners into the center of GINGER’s theme, going back to your roots, without forgetting just how far you’ve come. The track takes on themes of imperfection, failed relationships, breakups, substance abuse and mental health, which bolsters the somber ripeness of the band’s sound.
The following track, SUGAR speaks to the band’s longing for love in the midst of drug obsessions and sleepless nights in empty beds. It’s an ode to the heart, a concept BROCKHAMPTON seems to have down to a tee. BOY BYE almost completely obliterates the last two somber tracks with a dark, yet poppy beat underneath smooth flows and double-edged, boastful lyricism. Every member shines on this track and it truly becomes an entire vibe. By the end of the track, your finger will already be hovering over the repeat button. In HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU the band takes a step back and let’s rising artist Slowthai take the stage. The UK artist raps about his mental health and relationship with religion over Romil and Jabari classic BH production.
ST. PERCY mixes the energy of the SATURATION series with the intensity of iridescence, with incredible flows and lyrical twists lying on a heavy 808 driven, bass-boosted beat, assorted in a way only BROCKHAMPTON could to bring the entire track to life.
Feeding off the energetic energy of the last two tracks, the song IF YOU PRAY RIGHT continues this streak for the next five minutes, with very religious driven lyrics from the boys, each member tackles their own thoughts on religion as a whole and how the concept has taken root in their lives. Apparently a Jehovah’s witness had even visited the band’s house one day during the production of the album, which maybe started or bolstered the influence of this track.
However, with the song DEARLY DEPARTED, the album’s themes come to a head. This is easily the most emotional and vulnerable song that BROCKHAMPTON has made. With heartfelt and introspective performances from Kevin Abstract, JOBA, Matt Champion, and Dom McLennon. Dom shines on this track especially, with his verse seemingly revealing the reason behind the title of the track. It is in reference to ex-member Ameer Vann, who’s situation is explained above. In a since deleted tweet, McLennon revealed that Vann had allegedly set up an ambush for Dom’s friend to be robbed. The frustration and anger of not only that but also the lies and pain he had caused his friends shines through clearly on this track. The title odes to the end of an era and a final farewell to Ameer as a friend, bandmate, and reason for the group’s suffering.
Still in the trenches of the prior track, the band gets hype still with I BEEN BORN AGAIN. The track a stripped of major production, adding only a smooth dark beat, some well-timed chants, and glitched adlibs in the background. Every vocalist of the band comes dead center on this track, showcasing their lyrical abilities and re-welcoming their audience to the world of BROCKHAMPTON, this being the first single they released off of GINGER. Topics of drug abuse and their newfound fame
GINGER is the title track of the album and brings vibes similar to SUGAR, with the boys diving back into the vulnerable and melancholic themes the previous track have brought forth. This track is dual sided, producing a homely feeling for the ones listening, whilst also being far away, as if our lover/friend/family member is wishing us good luck and letting us know that there is always a home, a family, a friendship, and a romance to come home to. Taking inspiration of Ne-Yo and Jamie Foxx’s “She Got Her Own”, the band puts their own unique spin on it, making a summer track for the ages.
The song BIG BOY is another reminiscent track, looking back on where BROCKHAMPTON was, and the experiences they’ve undergone in order to become the artists they are now. The title of the track could also play on the stigma of masculinity in modern society, a topic the band has played around with on other tracks on the album, and other projects altogether. Growing up is a hard thing, but the group seems to have come out of the ashes, more mature and stronger than before, albeit a bit woeful.
By this point in the album, you can see a trend. The band has grown and healed wounds of past tribulations, yet learning from their mistakes and delving into that darkness. This is seen on LOVE ME FOR LIFE where themes of vampiric loneliness and coming from the “dirt” to the fame and fortune they have today.
The last track, VICTOR ROBERTS, features a completely new artist to the fold, by the same name. Subjects such as troubled family history, extreme drug obsession which leads to broken trust and betryal. Victor is one of Dom’s close friends and this is the first song he has ever recorded. VICTOR ROBERTS is easily the second heaviest on the album, and is swelled into an amazing finish by a mixture of Ryan Beatty’s and Bearface’s beautiful, anthemic chorus and bridge.
At the end of this review, I’ve come to see that GINGER seems to be a form of catharsis and it does its job well to close a chapter in the band’s lives that they will always have access to, but choose to move forward from. BROCKHAMPTON delivers on everything their fans and they themselves were waiting for.
BROCKHAMPTON “GINGER” - 10/10
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