BROCKHAMPTON – ‘GINGER’ REVIEW

America’s favorite new age hip hop group is back! Brockhampton seems to never rest or sleep. With the release of Ginger, Brockhampton has now released five full length albums in the last two years. They have also done multiple tours, made a mini movie and a documentary, and lead singer Kevin Abstract has even dropped two solo projects in the time since they dropped their first Saturation album at the beginning of the summer a couple of years ago. Brockhampton has really evolved and changed a lot since their first album. After their first three albums(which all came out in the same summer and followed the same story line) took the world by storm and ended up all being critically acclaimed, everyone in the hip hop and music world in general had their eyes on these guys to see what they would do next. Unfortunately, at the beginning of last year, they had to kick out one of the most popular members of group. Brockhampton decided to part ways with rapper Ameer Van due to sexual misconduct allegations; this was a difficult decision for the group to make, since Ameer was one of the founding member of the group and was considered by many listeners to be the most talented rapper in the group. Since they had to kick an integral member of the group out, Brockhampton actually completely remade the album they released last year so it would make sense without him; as a result of this, Iridescence feels pretty scattered and incomplete to me. So now that Ameer has been gone for over a year and they have been able to grow as a group without him, can Brockhampton make music that is the same quality as Saturation? Hell yes. Ginger does an excellent job at showcasing the talent of all of the members of Brockhampton. It also really shows how cohesive this group is; they really do feed off of the emotions and energy levels of each other so well. On Ginger, Brockhampton embraces the “boy band” moniker more than ever, making multiple super sweet pop/R&B songs that once again show how diverse this group really is. Nothing about Ginger is a disappointment, and I am really glad to see the group still working together so well.

I’m sure I’ll find it. No one helps me when my eyes go red…

This project gets off to a very somber start from the jump with ‘No Halo.’ It starts out with Matt Champion spitting about a woman that he lost that he still loves; he trying to only remember the good times, but his disdain for her leaving keeps letting negative emotions creep into his head. This verse really sets the tone for the whole track right away. Instrumentally, it is very laid back and chill, but also very sad sounding. The guitar driven pop-rap melody is just as sad as the lyrics are. It is pretty easy to see from the start that this is going to be an emotional and introspective record.

Spending all my nights alone wishing you would call me. You’re the only one I want by my side when I fall asleep…

‘Sugar,’ the next song on the album, has a totally different sound and vibe than the first track, while keeping its emotional tone. Sonically, this track reminds me a little bit of Cherub, with the melody being a sweet and funky pop/R&B joint and the some of the vocals being tinted with that robotic auto tune that Cherub seems to love. Dom McLennon really stands out on this track; his sophisticated lyricism and impeccable flow really shine through the low key and dreamy vibe of this track. I really love this direction for Brockhampton, and I think this softer side of them is just as important than their intense and boundary pushing music. One of the most interesting cuts of the EP to me is ‘Heaven Belongs to You.’ This song features the first and only contribution to this record from British rapper slowthai; Over a spacey cloud trap beat produced by Brockhampton’s own in house producers Jabari Manwa and Romil Hemnani, slowthai gives us an introspective rap about mental health and religion. It is one of the most cerebral joints on the record, and fans of wordy rap music should love this one.

There is no love in the ghetto. Money money, we are just getting get go…

This dark ass line comes from one of the darker tracks of the record ‘St Percy.’ The instrumental on this joint is so bass heavy and trippy; it reminds me of a super in your face Kenny Beats trap joint. Lyrically, this is one of the least sad songs. Although it features some dark content, it mainly consists of the various members of Brockhampton acknowledging how talented they are, how hard they work, and their sexual prowess, and how they know that they need to stay true to the versions of themselves that has gotten them to this point. The next track, ‘If You Pray Right,’ also has a sinister and cynical feel to it. The instrumental on this one feels like it could have been on Saturation. It has that weird trippy west coast vibe that the group tends to love, and features some of the strangest and most unique production on the record. Lyrically, this song is pretty similar to the previous one. The group continues to talk about how great they are and what got them to this point, while also putting an emphasis on the evils of money and their need for religion. It is definitely one of the most lyrically intense tracks on the album for sure. On ‘Dearly Departed,’ we descend back into the sad and emotional tone of the album. This track is a sweet R&B cut that is very minimalistic and chill; it reminds me a lot of some of the early music made my Erykah Badu. The lyrical content of the track seems to be about a lost friend; it would not be wrong to wonder if this song is strictly about their former band mate, Ameer Vann. Although I prefer the anxious intensity of most of BH’s music, I appreciate the sentiment of this song and it honestly makes me feel bad for them; losing a friend in the way that they did has to be very rough.

It’s better if I try not to talk about shit that’s on my mind. Money on my mind! That’s right, couple hunnids at a time…

‘I Been Born Again’ takes us back to that “old school” Brockhampton vibe. The production on this track is just bonkers; the actual beat is pretty simple, and reminds me of early 2000’s trap, but the ad-libs and melody are fricken crazy and bring back that anxious intensity from that I love from this group. Lyrically, the group discusses the good and the bad that has come from their new found fame, specifically the good and bad that has to do with drugs and money. It has always been amazing to me how Brockhampton is able to switch up their sound so quickly on an album, but still have it feel like a solid transition for the story of the album. ‘Ginger’ is unlike anything else on Ginger to this point; this track is part synth pop, part cloud trap, and the way that it transitions back and forth between the two is seemless and really dope. On ‘Ginger,’ the group seems to be singing to a significant other that each of them have, with Kevin Abstract asserting that it is better whenever this person is not around. The melancholy feel of the lyrics contrasts the sound of the song in a cool way, and I think this one could end up being the most popular song of the album.

I wish you would love me for life, love me for life, love me for life, I wish you would…

‘Love Me For Life’ is probably my favorite track on the whole record, which is impressive because it really does not sound like anything they have done before, except for maybe earlier on this album. Brockhampton continues to impress me with how many different types of music that they can excel at. ‘Love Me For Life’ is a sweet pop/R&B ballad with a very melancholy tone. Each member is singing to someone that they have loved and lost, pleading for them to come back. Joba really shines on this track; his energy is so palpable, and even though melody is chill and actually kind of uplifting, you can feel his pain through the words that he sings. The last song of the project, ‘Victor Roberts,’ does a nice job tying the whole record together. The instrumental is very lowkey and the melody is pretty hopeful sounding, and it is a nice break from all of the crazy production of the record. Lyrically, the track also seems to bring the whole album to a nice ending, with new Brockhampton member Victor Roberts rapping about figuring out who and what he wants to be. It brings some much need clarity to the the chaotic experience this record gives to listeners.

The level of creativity that Brockhampton possesses is pretty amazing to me. Ginger is the group’s 5th album to drop in about two years, and every project is totally different thematically and sonically. On Ginger, the ever changing boy band takes a way more melancholy and introspective approach than they have in the past, with a lot of the songs being about a lost loved one or the realization that the things that come with money and power are not always necessarily good. Although I don’t love Ginger as much as the Saturation albums(the second edition of this trilogy is a total masterpiece), I do think it is a very good record that proves Brockhampton is not going backwards or losing what makes them great on any level. Check out the album for yourself with the Spotify link below!

8/10

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