BROCKHAMPTON – ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE REVIEW

When Brockhampton broke onto the music scene in 2017, they truly took the world by storm. They started their career with three albums released within six months, all receiving widespread critical acclaim. Depending on who you ask, Saturation 1, Saturation 2, and Saturation 3 could be considered the favorite album of the trilogy. Personally, I love Saturation 2. Many of my favorite songs by the group to this day are on this record. Brockhampton is a Hip Hop Boy Band that consists of many producers, singers, rappers, and visual artists. Even though they are technically led by the producer, singer, rapper, known as Kevin Abstract, member of the group contributes in a significant way. Officially, the members of Brockhampton are Kevin, rappers/singers Merlyn Wood, Dom McLennon, and Matt Champion, rappers/singers/producers Joba, bearface, and Jabari Manwa, and producers Romil Hemnani and Kiko Merley. Brockhampton also includes graphic designer HK Sileshi, photographer Ashlan Grey, and web designer Roberto Ontentient. Kevin is the glue of the group, though, as he is the one that makes everything mesh and click. Since the Saturation trilogy, Brockhampton has been through a lot. In 2018, they kicked out former rapper for the group Ameer Vann due to claims of physical and mental abuse of a former girlfriend on his part. Ameer was an integral part of the Saturation trilogy, and this situation shook the group to its core. Also in 2018, Brockhampton signed a record deal with RCA Records and released their fourth album, Iridescence. This was their first record to reach number one on the Billboard charts and also received critical acclaim. It was especially loved for how much this record blends genres, as it constantly jumps between and meshes elements of Hip Hop, R&B, Funk, and Pop music. Their fifth album, Ginger, was released in 2019, and it is their most polarizing record to date. It continues the genre-blending elements of the record that precedes it and is considered a lot more “mature: than their previous releases. Because of this element of “maturity,” though, some people feel like it lacks in the youthful exuberance and rebellious nature that their previous releases had. Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine is the latest project to come from Brockhampton. It was announced seemingly out of nowhere by Kevin Abstract two weeks before it was released, and will supposedly get a sequel to it released later this year. With all of that being said, here is how I feel about Brockhampton’s new record Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine. Please let me know in the comments below if you enjoy this record, and let me know what your favorite songs are from this record in the comments as well.

Who let the dope boys out?. Thank God you let me crash on your couch. Who’s my God that I’m prayin’ to now?. Early two thous, they tried to jump in. Latino projection, any direction, you gave me your blessing. Texan, I text him, I told him I got him. Told I made it to Hollywood, all it took was a summer to fail…’ – BUZZCUT(feat. Danny BROWN)

The album starts with the song ‘BUZZCUT,’ which features Danny Brown and is the only song from the record which was released as a single before the record came out. It is the song that indicated to listeners that we were in a new Brockhampton album cycle and that more new music would be coming very soon. ‘BUZZCUT’ has a very abrasive and in-your-face instrumental and beat that sort of has an old-school Hip Hop quality to it. Even though the song is not very similar to anything they have made in the past, it does have a similar intense energy to a lot of the music from the Saturation era. In the first verse, Kevin raps about all of the trials and tribulations he and the people close to him have gone through in the last couple of years. Even though Brockhampton has had a ton of success, they did lose a best friend when they kicked out Ameer and they did sign a suffocating record deal out of naivete. Also, Kevin specifically still has issues with his mom for not initially accepting him for being gay and his cousin recently went to jail for selling a little weed, so he feels he is cursed. In Danny Brown’s verse, Danny seems to be attacking the haters, basically telling them all to screw off because he made it to where he is all on his own. I love the transition into a chaotic R&B instrumental which ends the track, as it adds a weird and softer element to the song that helps close it out. Following this, we get ‘CHAIN ON,’ which features JPEGMAFIA. Considering the haywire energy both of these artists possess, this collab is a dream made in Heaven(or actually Hell, rather). With that being said, this song is way calmer and easy-going than one would ever expect from this collab. ‘CHAIN ON’ is another song with a 90s Hip Hop feeling to it. It reminds me of some of the formative psychedelic Hip Hop music by artists like A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde. On ‘CHAIN ON,’ both JPEGMAFIA and Dom McLennon both switch from rapping with braggadocious quality in the verses about their rags to riches stories to talking about their disdain for police violence and government control. It seems like they are well aware of how lucky they are, and they do not want their hard work to be taken away by someone in power for no reason. ‘COUNT ON ME’ was released as a single on the day the album came out, and it is the only song from the record to have a music video right now. The video features fellow musicians Lil Nas X and Dominic Fike, and it is pretty crazy. I do not want to ruin it, so you should just go watch it right now if you have not. ‘COUNT ON ME’ features A$AP Rocky, SoGoneSoFlexy, Ryan Beatty, and Shawn Mendes. A$AP Rocky and SoGoneSoFlexy both contribute rap verses to the track, while Ryan Beatty and Shawn Mendes both sing with Jabari Manwa on the chorus. The third verse on this song comes from Matt Champion. ‘COUNT ON ME’ is another track with a 90s Hip Hop sound that reminds me a lot of A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde. It makes sense why they are embracing this sound, as Brockhampton sounds so great on these mellow and fuzzy instrumentals. On this track, it seems like everyone is trying to convince a significant other to just trust them. They have all made it this far because of their hard work and determination, and they want their significant others to keep following them into glory. I could see this track being a fan favorite because it is just so warm and welcoming and every performance on ‘COUNT ON ME’ is top tier.

‘BANKROLL,’ which features A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg, is the first song from the record with a modern Trap sound to it. ‘BANKROLL’ is a super braggadocious track where Brockhampton is letting us know how much money they have and how far they have made it. The verses are provided by Merlyn Wood, Matt Champion, and Jabari Manwa, with A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg assisting Brockhampton on the chorus. This track is a banger, I could see it becoming one of the most popular songs from the record because it has such a grimey and new Trap feel to it. Following this, we get ‘THE LIGHT,’ which is completely different from anything on this record that precedes it. It has a sort of Rock-Rap feeling to it, with an ominous guitar-driven melody supported by a 90s style beat to make up the instrumental. I do not even know what to compare the sound of this song too because it is so unique. Nevertheless, it is super interesting and good. In ‘THE LIGHT,’ Joba and Kevin Abstract rap about why they are so damaged from their past. Joba raps about how his dad’s suicide and his declining mental health torture him every day, and Kevin raps about how he is still not over how he was treated growing up and how he feels like his family will never truly accept him. This track is very intense and sad and lets the listener see what makes these artists who they are. ‘THE WINDOW,’ which features SoGoneSoFlexy, is a 6-minute track that doesn’t seem to have a major theme; instead, every artist on the track sort of just goes off and shows how talented they are. It honestly feels like a cipher to me. The instrumental has a 90s hardcore Hip Hop feeling to it that reminds me a lot of the Wu-Tang Clan. The instrumental is pretty low-key, which forces the listener to focus on the artists. On ‘THE WINDOW,’ SoGoneSoFlexy, Kevin Abstract, Merlyn Wood, Matt Champion, Dom Mclennon, Joba, and bearface all rap, while Jabari Manwa sings the chorus, Ryan Beatty sings a bridge, Kevin Abstract, and Imonde Goss provides an interlude and Kevin provides the outro. This track is a great example of how talented the individual members of Brockhampton are. Once again, the next track is nothing like anything before it. ‘I’LL TAKE YOU ON,’ which features Charlie Wilson, is an upbeat dance track with an old school R&B sound to it. It’s almost impossible to not bop your head or move your feet to this track because it is so funky and fun. Charlie Wilson, Kevin Abstract, Joba, Matt Champion, and bearface all sing on this song and contribute in various ways. Even though the melody seems so happy, this is a break-up track. Everyone on this track seems to be informing their girl why their relationships just won’t work. It’s the sweetest-sounding sad song I’ve heard in a long time.

‘OLD NEWS,’ which features Baird,’ also has a sound that has not been used yet on this record. It has an early 2010s Internet Rap feeling to it. This track reminds me a lot of artists like early Mac Miller, Chiddy Bang, and the Cool Kids. On ‘OLD NEWS,’ the members of Brockhampton and Baird are reflecting on an old relationship that didn’t work out. They feel like they sacrificed so much for a girl just to have it blow up in their faces. Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, Joba, and Baird provide the verses while Jabari Manwa sings the chorus. The next song, ‘WHAT’S THE OCCASION,’ brings back the melancholy Rock-Rap sound we heard earlier on the record. This track only has performances from Joba and Matt Champion, but those two are all it needs because they both stand out on this song. ‘WHAT’S THE OCCASION’ is about not being content with all of the success you have gained when you know it should satisfy you. They feel like even though they have achieved their dreams, they still haven’t found true happiness, and this brings them down. It’s such a raw and emotional track that can tug at your heartstrings. Following this, we get ‘WHEN I BALL,’ which is a piano driven ballad rap track that is reminiscent of the early 2000s. It particularly reminds a lot of the music artists like Kanye and Common made in the early 2000s. On this track, The members of Brockhampton are reminiscing on good things about their past. Even though they have everything they have always wanted now, they still miss elements of the simpler life they had. Matt Champion and Dom McLennon provide the verses, while Joba, Christian Alexander, and Zuri Marley sing the chorus.

This a jam for your whims and your woes. For the people in the back standin’ on they tippy toes. Don’t give a damn what the journalist wrote. Always dead inside like they in the catacombs. On the prowl like a lion in his throne… – ‘DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY

‘DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY’ brings back the old-school hardcore Hip Hop sound that Brockhampton excels so much at. This track has a chaotic reminds me a lot of some of the songs that blew up early in their career from the Saturation albums. In this song, Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, and Joba contribute verses, Kevin and Matt rap the choruses, Kevin and Joba rap the bridge, and Kevin and bearface give us the outro. This track does not have a super sophisticated meaning or theme; it just shows off the respective immense talents all these artists have. Following this, we have ‘DEAR LORD,’ which is yet again unlike anything on this album. This track is an acoustic Gospel-style song sung by bearface. In this song, bearface is praying for the happiness and health Joba over the suicidal death of his father. It is very cool and sweet to hear something like this included in a studio album, and it shows how much the members of this band truly love each other. The album closes out with ‘THE LIGHT PT. 2.’ This is another acoustic track, with the melody being provided by a distorted guitar and some Gospel-style humming. The rapping performances are given to us by Joba and Kevin Abstract; similar to ‘THE LIGHT,’ both men are talking about families issues they have had that affect them deeply. Once again, Joba opens up about how much his dad’s suicide has affected him. Hearing Joba open up like this makes him seem so vulnerable and relatable to listeners, and once again helps Brockhampton relate to their listeners in ways that a lot of other Hip Hop artists can not.

With how successful and how great Brockhampton has been up until this point, they had pretty big shoes to fill with Roadrunner: New LIght, New Machine. They have been able to have the kind of success that Hip Hop groups have not had in a very long time, with every member of the group contributing in unique ways. They have been able to make music that is so retro and modern at the same time, with ways to relate to all Hip Hop listeners. Honestly, I did not know how they could ever make something better than Saturation 2 because it was so fresh at the time and the quality was so high. Roadrunner: New LIght, New Machine is better than anything Brockhampton has made up until this point. Everything that has made them great in the past is exhibited on this record tenfold. It has the musical diversity and youthful, rebellious exuberance that has made them so great in the past, and it is more polished and complete sounding than any of their previous records. Roadrunner: New LIght, New Machine has something for everyone, and I highly encourage everyone to listen to it because it will probably be one of the best records that come out in 2021.

Favorite TracksBUZZCUT(feat. Danny Brown), COUNT ON ME, BANKROLL(feat. A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg), THE LIGHT, I’LL TAKE YOU ON(feat. Charlie Wilson), WHAT’S THE OCCASION, WHEN I BALL, DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY, THE LIGHT(Pt. 2)

8.69/10

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