2018 was a rollercoaster of a year for Brockhampton. Riding the success of their popular self-produced Saturation trilogy, the group decided to sign to RCA Records. In June 2018, they decided to fire staple member Ameer Vann after sexual assault allegations surfaced, and their announced projects Puppy and Team Effort were scrapped. Throughout the summer of 2018, the collective released a string of standalone singles and eventually recorded their fourth studio album Iridescence in ten days at Abbey Road Studios in London, which was released in the following September. After Iridescence, the hip-hop collective went on tour, and the group’s long string of releases was over.
2019 was a relatively quiet year for the group until they began teasing the release of Ginger with singles like “I Been Born Again” and “If You Pray Right” in July. Immediately from the release of the singles, the group showed a return to form to the sound of their classic Saturation trilogy. The reappearance of sticky hooks and layered, bouncy production made it clear that the group had partially abandoned experimenting with more abrasive, left-field ideas as they did on Iridescence.
The release of Ginger proved to be a combination of the general sounds and textures of much of the more restrained tracks in the Saturation trilogy (like “Trip”, “Rental”, or “Bleach”) and the stronger emotional tension that’s prevalent on Iridescence (like on the tracks “Weight” and “Fabric”).
The new album may be the group’s most polished, accessible, and radio friendly project yet. Tracks like “No Halo” and “Sugar” are glossy alternative r&b singles that prove the group’s long lasting efforts to make the perfect melodies and fusion of sounds and styles. Tracks like “Boy Bye”, “If You Pray Right”, and “St. Percy” display the group’s talent at making tracks that will make listeners bob their heads through spontaneous and creative subtleties.
The heart of the album is the tragic “Dearly Departed”, which directly confronts the departure of Ameer Vann from the group. The themes of betrayal that skillful rapper Dom McLennon paint over a soulful, smooth-yet-distorted instrumental should hopefully bring closure to the group themselves, as well as Brockhampton’s fanbase, which has been partially divided since Ameer’s leaving of the group.
While Ginger is a return to form compared to iridescence, The album isn’t perfect, and isn’t as impactful as their Saturation albums. The second half of the album, while not subpar, may be a bit forgettable at moments due to the group’s tendency to stitch together contributions from the rappers and vocalists in a way that can be jarring, messy, or just unfitting. Sometimes, Bearface’s vocal melodies feel purely incompatible with the song structures, like on “Sugar” and “Love Me For Life”. The album’s overall order of track listing also could’ve been more cohesive, as sometimes the song’s transitions feel unrefined. However, the group’s efforts on Ginger are highly apparent, as the hip-hop boy band is still producing some of their most original and creative songs. While this may not be their finest record to date, it’s a step forward for the group and raises questions about where they will go next on their musical trek.
Best track(s): No Halo, Boy Bye, If You Pray Right, I Been Born Again, Love Me For Life
Worst track: Ginger
Review By: A.J. Frigoletto