For a group who call themselves a “boy band,” rap collective Brockhampton are far from cheesy. After their debut album received critical acclaim, Brockhampton didn’t make their fans wait long for more material. Saturation is one of the best overall albums to be released in 2017. It’s more than just another rap album. Brockhampton have found a comfortably unorthodox formula to making hip-hop. Their production styles are playful and dreamy, but they also hit hard when needed. Not all 14 members are vocally present on these two albums. However, there are enough personalities, strengths and weaknesses presented here to satisfy various listeners. Once you get a few listens under your belt, you’ll start noticing each member’s tendencies and deliveries. Kevin Abstract is probably the most internet famous in the group. His bars are the most consistent in the group, in my opinion, but he doesn’t always have the best verse.
His standout efforts include “JUNKY” and this album’s opening track “GUMMY“. What I love most about Brockhampton is their commitment to real-life substance in their bars. Kevin’s “GUMMY” verse addresses fans, haters, and old heads in a fresh and entertaining fashion. He deters his doubters by critiquing stereotypical rap stigmas thus beating them to the punch. This down-to-earth lyrical approach is what makes this collective so impressive. So early in their careers Brockhampton have found a sound that is both signature and universally appealing. My personal favorite from this sequel, “FIGHT,” features a killer beat and a stellar verse from Ameer Vann. Group producer Romil Hemnani starts with Wu-Tang-style strums and finishes with something industrial, like new-age rage rap. I imagine maniacal crowds crumping and shoving each other any time I hear it. Ameer’s verse might be my favorite on the album as well:
“My male role models: drug dealers and thugs / My father learned how to solve problems with guns / And when I grew up I learned what racism was / And what teaching it does, and like my teachers would say / ‘Little black boys have a place in this world like hanging from trees’ / Or dead in the street like I seen on TV / All them boys they killed, they looked just like me / Not like Brandon or Chandler, but Malik and Kareem / I was born with a target, and it stuck to my skin / And I learned in social studies I was one of them men / Who were locked in the chains, but not locked in the pen / But I’m bigger than that, I’m the beginning and end…”
Raps like this are what make hip-hop an incomparable genre. Personal lyrics and reflective songwriting are found across all genres. But painting an ugly struggle as a beautifully resilient tale is what true-to-form hip-hop does best. From Texas to Cali, Brockhampton have blazed a new trail for alternative rap music in 2017. Releasing one great album is typically unheard of, let alone two. Although I will say the first Saturation is more memorable, Saturation II still comes with the heat. Its only flaws are a few inessential soundscapes that mimic other tracks from this album or its predecessor. This sequel flows well from start to finish. However, some of the tracks aren’t as strong when standing alone. “CHICK,” “JELLO,” and “GAMBA” are solid tracks yet they blend into the aesthetic a little too much. Regardless, I am desperately anticipating the third Saturation installment set to drop later this year.