By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)
In the music industry, following up a successful debut album is often hard to do. It’s a rarity to see an artist carry over what made their debut so exciting with such effortless consistency. Brockhampton, the self-proclaimed “boyband” of 20-24 year olds making music independently out of their house, have done that. They have arguably improved on their debut within the two months since its release.
Brockhampton initially caught waves throughout the internet through their wildly unique self-made music videos for their debut, Saturation. Saturation II followed that same formula and put out music videos for GUMMY, SWAMP, JUNKY, and SWEET. All videos are introduced by web-producer/producer member Robert Ontinient with the now infamous line “Me Illamo Roberto” Ontinient handles all the skits throughout Saturation II as he did in Brockhampton’s first album. The skits are now referred to as scenes as Saturation II follows a five-letter-word rule for every track except the last track which has six. If this sounds familiar, it’s because they did the same thing with Saturation but with four and five letters respectively.
Throughout Saturation II, tracks seamlessly transition into one another without losing a consistent vibe or mood. Tracks also will splinter apart to make way for a new idea or hook, such as the blistering energy of QUEER that flips to an Outkast inspired hook before you have a second to breathe. Kevin Abstract, the ringleader of Brockhampton, usually handles the hooks and has a knack for creating sticky catchy choruses influenced from the likes of M.I.A. and Pharrell. Tracks like SWEET, GUMMY, SWAMP and TOKYO come to mind.
Almost every hook on the album is memorable in someway and really showcases how far Abstract has come in just a year, looking back at the mixed-reception on his sophomore album, American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story, released just last fall. Since then, Abstract sounds more confident as a performer and has incredibly impressive verses (JUNKY) and hooks (JELLO) all throughout Saturation II. But as talented and visionary as Abstract is, he doesn’t steal the spotlight away from Brockhampton. Members, JOBA, Ameer Vann, Merlyn Wood, Matt Champion, Bearface, and Dom McLennon all have moments throughout every song where they steal the song with their unique styles and undeniably talents.
JOBA has one of the most unique moments with his verse on the back end of SWEET. Mixing falsetto vocals with aggressive bars, it sounds like an anomaly in hip-hop music today. Ameer Vann delivers confessional bars coated with a silk smooth flow that has made him a fan-favorite of the group. TEETH gives Vann a track all to himself where his aggressiveness gradually increases over a slightly haunting sample of “ooo’s” FIGHT shows Vann at his most confessional as it does Dom McLennon. McLennon has often been referred to as the most technical out of Brockhampton and for good reason. McLennon has a knack for quick bars with honesty winded in his rapid rhymes. Such as the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it verse McLennon delivers at the end of JUNKY, one of the most aggressive energetic tracks on the whole album. Filled with incredible verses front to back.
“No hands with the stunts / Jump off the roof like I do what I want / All of the life in my past wanna haunt / And my sight of the future beginning to taunt my ambition / Man on the moon, I’m marooned / I ain’t trippin’, I’m on a mission”
Tracks like QUEER and SWEET showcases the dynamic nature of member Merlyn Wood, who yelps his verses with an infectious energy. Wood demonstrates this perfectly on QUEER with a message:
“First off fuck Dolce & Gabbana / Racist mothersuckers tryna be my father / Put that on me auntie and me mama / Grab the Ghost then I go right back to Ghana”
Or the more light-hearted verse in SWEET
“Don’t call me stupid, that ain’t the way my name pronounced / Don’t call me Cupid, I got too many hoes right now / Poolside in Houston, tryna see if Beyonce will take me for adoption / Broke-ass rich suburbs”
Matt Champion, another fan favorite always delivers with confessional lyrics that are masked by an undeniably swagger, such as his verse in JUNKY
“My mom’s no alcoholic, she just wanna drown her sorrows / Love her to death and soon enough I’ll give back all I borrowed”
“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”
While Saturation II tends to be fueled by energy, there are few cuts that capture the woozy R&B sound perfectly, such as SUNNY or Bearface’s masterpiece, SUMMER which features such an infectious guitar lick that it evokes emotion. Moving from an energetic track like SWEET to a slower ballad like GAMBA may be the only moment in the entire album that any momentum is lost at all. GAMBA is a love-sick ballad with a sticky repetitive hook from Abstract. If there was a weakest track on Saturation II, this would be it but it’s still an impressive track overall in the grand scheme of hip-hop today.
Saturation II is one of the strongest albums of this year. It’s a refreshing break from the rinse-wash-repeat formula of hip-hop that has been so dominant this year. Brockhampton is filled with so much talent in every member and their latest offering demonstrates such a cohesive collaboration from every member that it makes you wonder where they can go from this and how quickly it’ll be before everyone is familiar with America’s hottest new boyband.