Brockhampton Returns and Leaves?

Brockhampton Returns and Leaves?

Amin Shah, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Brockhampton is (or was) a collective rap group formed in 2010. It was made up of leading man Kevin Abstract, vocalists Ameer Vann (who departed in 2019), Bearface (who also produces for the group, as he did in one of their newest albums), Dom McLennon, Russel ‘‘Joba’’ Boring, Matt Champion, and producers Kiko Merley, Romil Hemani, Jabari Manwa, and many others. The group encountered many rough patches and infighting occurred, with controversies of sexual abuse/misconduct by Ameer Vann, making him leave the group in 2019. The group announced an indefinite hiatus after the release of their 2021 album ‘‘Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine’’, which was broken by their newest albums.

They announced their breakup several times on their social media accounts months before their latest albums were released back to back from one another. The first one was ‘‘The Family’’, which was released on November 17th. It was essentially a Kevin Abstract solo album under the Brockhampton name, as he is one of the only vocalists on the project with Bearface and Boylife stuck behind the producer credits. It is an effective Kevin Abstract solo album that features amazing production, with clean and catchy samples that contribute to the overall mood of the album. It is a feeling of loneliness yet hopefulness for a future that is to be decided. It is a great reflection on the state of Kevin Abstract, the group, and each of the members, as they will all soon grow past the Brockhampton project into their ventures. Most of the songs were 2 minutes and under, except for the final track, which was Kevin’s reflection on his experience with the group from when it began up until their final tensions leading to their breakup. He acknowledges how talented they all are, even through all the hardships they went through, and doesn’t regret anything, as it ends on a hopeful note regarding everyone’s solo careers (especially his own). It is a great closer to a decade-long project that has amassed millions of fans in such a short amount of time, and although many claim that they were long forgotten before the release of these two albums, there were still some (like myself) casually listening to a good amount of their discography, hoping for a new project (even if it was highly unlikely). Here we are, with their final release, which satisfied my wait.

That was until the surprise release of their album ”TM’’. Many were accepting of the new album but disappointed that it was a Kevin Abstract solo album (for the most part) simply under the Brockhampton name. This sentiment quickly passed, as the group announced on Twitter that they were to drop a surprise album at midnight of the day they released ‘‘The Family’’. This came as an extremely pleasant surprise to most fans (including myself), hoping for a real Brockhampton album that would serve as a true send-off from all of the members, not just Kevin. And what we asked for, they delivered, as ‘‘TM’’ not only felt like a real Brockhampton record, but it was an immaculate one at that. Their classic production style found on projects like their ‘‘Saturation’’ albums could be heard on the album, really bringing back the sound that many were simply not fully satisfied with on ‘‘The Family’’. Although there were only 11 tracks on this album instead of 17, they were more complete in the fact that they were 2-4 minutes long each, not 1-2 minute long songs. This project features some of the greatest lyricism from the group, displaying their maturity and how far they’ve come from ‘‘All American Trash’’, their first mixtape (which did not age badly, but many of their amateurisms could be heard on this project). It closes off with the straightforward sounding song ‘‘Goodbye’’, sung by Joba and Matt Champion, which is a reflection of the two group member’s time in the band and how they did not take the ‘‘best time of their lives’’ (a reference to a song from one of their previous albums ‘‘iridescence’’ (stylized in all lowercase)) for granted. 

Although ending with ‘‘The Family’’ would have been more symbolic of the state of the group’s relationship, most are glad that they released ‘‘FM’’ to finally get the conclusion from the group that they were waiting for. They are both solid albums for different reasons, as one would be confused why they sound so different without given context. It may be due to not listening to them enough and associating them closely with one another (since they did drop one day after another), but these albums are very close to one another rating-wise, but I slightly prefer ‘‘The Family’’ over ‘‘FM’’ due to more unique and ‘‘Abstract’’ elements being found that ‘‘FM’’ simply lacks (not necessarily a bad thing, but some of those elements would have made the album a little more interesting), so ‘‘The Family’’ gets an 8 while ‘‘FM’’ gets a 7. They did not get to reach the peaks that were found in their ‘‘Saturation’’ trilogy, but they were on par with albums like ‘‘iridescence’’ and ‘‘Ginger’’, and that is damn close.