Alibi V.26 No.29 • July 20-26, 2017 

Sonic Reducer


Brockhampton brings it

The story behind Brockhampton’s remarkable debut album SATURATION is nearly as impressive as the music. The members of the “boy band”—whose diversity they proudly proclaim “makes [them] what America actually is”—met online and realized their similarities even through the distortion of the internet.

United by their malcontent spirits and spurred on by the mounting popularity of de facto leader Kevin Abstract, Brockhampton decided to commit to their collective potential and migrated to the City of Angels. There, in the house where the group both lives and records, the outfit flourished in their newfound freedom. In one short sleepless month, the band had churned out an album that, while reflective of their immense musical and personal diversity, is a cohesive embodiment of the friendship and love blossoming in their overcrowded home.

SATURATION is an album rooted in honesty. Influenced by the vulnerability of Kanye West, 2Pac and Frank Ocean—artists who bridged the divide between the hyper-masculinity of rap and the sensitivity of real-world humans—the members of Brockhampton are unapologetically open. The album is a celebration of emotion in all its iterations, journeying from the explosive anger of opening track “HEAT” to the tender sorrow of loss surrounding closing track “WASTE.”

Each of the vocalists display an incredible willingness to expose themselves—their strengths and weaknesses, their loves and fears—with the same confidence that audiences might expect from a “trap rapper” boasting of his wealth. The chemistry brewing between the members of the crew is palpable on each track, as rappers flex their lyrical prowess in friendly competition without detracting from the sense of unity prevalent throughout the album.

Unlike the dynamic of so many other groups, Brockhampton refuses to give any indication that their identity revolves around a single “star.” The album hops from strength to strength based on the merits of Brockhampton’s members, who each seize their respective chances to shine. The seething distortion of “HEAT,” augmented by the bridge’s incensed screams of “I’ll break your neck so you can watch your back,” is contrasted by the beautiful, effortless cool of “BOYS,” an album highlight featuring a Zelda-esque flute line interwoven into an orchestral string section.

It is a testament to the production on the album that—although it boasts a wide variety of influences encompassing the pop-punk of the early 2000s (“MILK”), the sparse electronica of 808s & Heartbreaks-era Kanye (“SWIM”, “TRIP”), the swagger of contemporary rap (“STAR”), the tenderness of indie rock (“FACE”) and more—it maintains an incredible cohesion. The beats and vocals develop interdependently around one another, finishing where the other left off and completing the incomplete.

SATURATION acts as a wonderful culmination and representation of a beautiful newly-formed relationship. The members of Brockhampton present themselves as a proud and loving family, boasting of each other’s strengths. Through their intimacy, with each other and with their audience, the band is able to make friends into family and strangers into friends. This album—and Brockhampton as a group—is all about drawing inspiration from one another to embrace and strengthen the self.

Brockhampton: SATURATION