Texas hip-hop/boy band Brockhampton returns with a new album. Brockhampton was the group who lit up 2017 with three incredible albums (“Saturation,” “Saturation II” and “Saturation III”) that were fun and refreshing to hear. But amidst their success, member Ameer Vaan left due to allegations of sexual misconduct in May of this year.
Vaan is considered one of the core members of the group and his departure left fans wondering how the group would move forward. The “Saturation Trilogy” showed his importance in the group. This new album, iridescence, shows signs of how Brockhampton is able to move forward without Vaan.
The listening experience of “iridescence” is one that will leave you in your thoughts and feelings, which is a contrast to the “Saturation Trilogy.” In a sense, “iridescence” was the state of the group in the past six months. With the topics that are presented here, I imagine myself playing the album alone at night.
Lesser known members, such as Joba and Bearface, step up and show their importance on the album. “J’overt” is a notable example. Joba pulls one of the rawest and untamed verses in the album. This verse gives listeners a feeling of finally releasing all of your pent-up emotions at once. If you ever feel extremely stressed over things that are going on with your life, this is the track to help deal with your emotions.
Bearface brings excellent hooks on tracks such as “Berlin” and “District.” Not only are they catchy, but they provide an excellent description for the verses of other members. “Berlin,” for example, shows him wondering how his mother would react if she spotted him wearing gang-affiliated clothes.
“Tape” is my personal favorite in the album. I love the sampling of the Radiohead song, “Videotape.” The sample contains a polyrhythmic drum pattern that provides a sense of anxiety for Kevin Abstract and Joba’s verses that deal with apathy and insecurity. Once more, Joba stands out with his lyrics. It’s a contrast to the anger inside “J’overt.” It gives sympathy towards Joba as he talks about how he doesn’t feel good enough and is constantly dealing with tragedy in his life.
“San Marcos” is a reflective track that sees the boys look back on the days before their fame; the early days of being in San Marcos, Texas, where they didn’t have to deal with a lot of things. The choir singing the chorus “I want more out of life than this” drives home their memories and gives the nostalgic aspect to the lyrics.
This continues with “Tonya.” It starts with a melancholic piano with a chorus reminiscent to boy bands in the 1990’s. The lyrics go into more detail about the struggles of dealing with fame. Abstract states that he would “trade fame any day for a quiet Texas place and a barbecue plate.”
Then there’s Merlyn Wood’s verse, in which we see him reminiscing on what his parents said to him regarding his music career. While he may become successful, he reminds himself that not everything will be resolved now that he has money. With fame, there are still trials that he must overcome no matter what and he must rise to the occasion.
“iridescence” is a fantastic album and one that has increased my respect for the group. Despite the circumstances surrounding them, they pulled off another fantastic album. While it’s not as fun the “Saturation Trilogy” was, they didn’t set out to do so. For them, this is a new chapter in the band’s history and a test they’ve succeeded in.
Track Picks: “Berlin,” “District,” “Tape,” “J’overt,” “Honey,” “San Marcos,” and “Tonya”
Label: RCA Records
Listen to “iridescence” on Spotify: