“iridescence” marks a new era for BROCKHAMPTON

Aoibhín Bryant

Hip-hop band, BROCKHAMPTON skyrocketed into prominence in 2017 after releasing three full length albums all in the space of one year. This increase in popularity culminated in a year-long world tour and $15 million record contract, where they played on DCU turf with two sold out shows at the Helix.

This is the band’s first album after former member, Ameer Vann left due to sexual and emotional abuse allegations. As Vann was considered to be the member that gave the band, who met on a Kanye West forum, more “grit” it was interesting to see what the band would deliver following his departure.

iridescence is their first album of a trilogy, and knowing the band’s track record, the next one may land on our doors before this year closes. The album begins with high energy song NEW ORLEANS  with a mix of different but distracting samples. The drone-like sounds that pervade the entire song begin to manifest into a form of a headache. It’s a weak start to the entire album, with verses drowning out to the loud music, except for Joba’s.

The album begins to pick up with WHERE THE CASH AT, as the band member Merlyn Wood takes centre stage. It’s the first proper fun song with the warping sound effects as Merlyn spits out his verses. BROCKHAMPTON is known for jaunting instrumentals and whiplash musically, which can be seen with the song right after WHERE THE CASH AT. Although WEIGHT is completely different to its predecessor, beginning with a slow violin pervading the entire track, it transitions seamlessly. Founding member and “leader” of the group, Kevin Abstract delivers emotional honesty in his lyrics partnered with a slight auto-tune manipulation. Rapping “And she was mad ’cause I never wanna show her off (Scared) /And every time she took her bra off my d*ck would get soft /I thought I had a problem, kept my head inside a pillow screaming”, he is upfront about his struggles with his homosexuality.  The emotion in his voice is raw as he laments on his nostalgia for BROCKHAMPTON when they were a smaller group.

Their single J’OUVERT is probably a favourite of most. However, there is a weak link to the group and this is Joba. Although a talented producer, his rapping is underwhelming, not because of his flow but because of his voice. His vocals sound like something akin to a cartoon character and it’s just too distracting, it prevents his lyrics from being taken seriously because they are presented in such a silly fashion. Everything is yelled in squawk-like manner that ruins the emotion of the song.

The second half of the album takes a more depressing note than the first, which is a rather new turn for the band in comparison to their other albums. More specifically in TAPE and SAN MARCOS. Although the strong lyrics by Abstract in WEIGHT fail to really make a re-occurrence once again, his performance peaks quite early on.

The album ends on a strong note with FABRIC, one can tell there was a lot of hardship involved with the decision to kick Ameer out from the group after allegations emerged, exemplified in the song. The end of the song, with a strong beat and echoing sound effects, group members Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, Ashlan Grey, Jabari Manwar and  Romil Henmani in a chorus rap “It’s the best years of our lives, motherf*cker / You are now about to experience / These are the best years of our lives I feel you”, warning of what’s yet to go. All in all, a strong album although with some shaky deliveries, this is expected considering it is a new era for the band.


Aoibhín Bryant
Image Credit: thefader.com