Rap collectives have always been a gateway to collaboration, genre-bending and creativity. Brockhampton, a 17-member team, is reminiscent of a K-POP boy band with the same awkward hairdos and overzealous fan base. Brockhampton could potentially bridge Death Grips fans and Lil Yachty fans and act as a nexus between entertainment and technicality as they introduce the world to alternative hip-hop. Brockhampton has had the quickest turnover rate of albums this year and each member – a diverse assembly of producers and rappers curated by Kevin Abstract – plays a signature role in the success of the group. After gaining initial traction after SATURATION I in June 2017, Brockhampton returned with the same raw energy at the end of August with SATURATION II.
The production of the album is very intentional and features a lot of recurring 4/4 chords and vocal stems which are diversified by different rappers on each of the 16 tracks. The third track, ‘Jello’ uses a repeated backbeat and a consistent and catchy la-de-da-de-da to set an ice-cream parlour vibe. Ameer’s ability to drop a reference to black economic empowerment on this track, without sounding preachy is essentially how this album may have put conscious rap under its belt with tracks like ‘Teeth’ and ‘Fight’, while simultaneously maintaining a ‘tunes to make out to’ vibe with ‘Gamba’ and ‘Summer’.
The appeal of Brockhampton is their ability to creatively express mundane activities and emotions, which seem to appeal more to their 16 to 21-year-old fan base, than living large. For example, ‘Tokyo’s lingering hook asking ‘what got you shook’ explores anxiety-inducing activities like paying your rent on time, recollecting your past and falling in love. ‘Junky’ is an uncanny, doomsday track prefaced by Kevin making sure the audience gets comfortable with his consistent references to his sexuality because frankly ‘not enough n****’s rappin’ be gay’. Matt also champions respecting women™ through fiery lyricism in ‘Junky’:
Where the respect? Is your ass human?
I look you in your eyes, say ‘fuck you, are you fuckin’ stupid?’
Respect my mother, ‘spect my sister, ‘spect these women, boy
These lyrics ultimately make this track my personal favourite on the album.
Brockhampton was formed in San Marcos, a Texan city where approximately 36 per cent of the population identifies as Hispanic. The ‘Scene 1’ and ‘Scene 2’ interludes on the album are spoken word by Robert Ontenient and are entirely in Spanish. ‘Scene 2’ is a prayer where it seems like Robert is praying for his family – Brockhampton – and asks for God to bless and protect them. This interlude is used as a segway into ‘Fight’, which sounds like it belongs in a Western showdown and could explain why Merlyn and Kevin ask,
Who gonna be the reason why I turn over? (bloodsucka!)
Who gonna be the gunner that I don’t trust? (bloodsucka!)
Who gonna be the gunner that get they ass whooped? (bloodsucka!)
The next five tracks are a medley of genres and highlight the group’s versatility and skill, most notably ‘Sunny’ shining through with country chord progressions and Bearface’s ‘driving off into the sunset’ melodies.
SATURATION II was stable enough to set a particular mood but versatile enough to ring true to Brockhampton’s ability to experiment with rap and different genres. Furthermore, the brief gap between the first instalment of SATURATION and the second is more than impressive. The highly anticipated SATURATION III, the third and final instalment, is expected to be released before the end of 2017.
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