BROCKHAMPTON burst onto the scene just 18 months ago with the terrific SATURATION trilogy, but they only popped onto my radar earlier this year, with their fourth studio album, iridescence. I have a thing for music that isn’t bound to a specific genre, and this is more true than ever for BROCKHAMPTON, who blur the lines of so many genres, due to the diversity of the artists working under the collaborative BROCKHAMPTON banner. This genre bending can be seen in iridescence, due to the ability to jump genres between tracks. Take ‘NEW ORLEANS’ and ‘THUG LIFE’, the first two tracks off of iridescence. ‘NEW ORLEANS’ is very punchy, strong rap, whereas ‘THUG LIFE’ gives me chilled R&B vibes. What’s more impressive, is that the transition from track to track is so smooth, the whole album just sounds like three or four songs, whereas it’s actually 15 tracks sewn perfectly together and that work so well off of each other.
Lyrically, there are many gems in this album, most notably the tracks ‘WEIGHT’ and ‘TONYA’, both of which are charged with emotion and hit with such a force that crushes the listeners soul. ‘WEIGHT’ is a track about the band member’s personal struggles. The first verse, written by Kevin Abstract, touches on both of these things, talking about the band’s photographer’s struggle with self harm (“‘Cause I’m still worried about when Ashlan finna put the razor down”), and Abstract’s own struggle with discovering his sexuality (“And she was mad ’cause I never wanna show her off / And every time she took her bra off my dick would get soft”). The track also touches on the effect of fame and fortune on the people around you, and how to look at yourself (“The road to peace is filled with snakes, you gotta keep your cool / And recognize the wolves that wanna try and leave you wool / Don’t let ’em treat you like a window, you know you’re a jewel”).
‘TONYA’, on the other hand, is a track about scandal and fame, inspired by I, Tonya, a film about how scandal can break the famous. The track comments on the ex-bandmember Ameer Vann’s sexual misconduct allegations, from the band’s point of view, in particular Abstract’s (“I’ve been in my feelings on an island in the dirt / I feel like brothers lie just so my feelings don’t get hurt”), and Abstract’s opinion of fame because of this (“I deleted Facebook, I’ll trade fame any day / For a quiet Texas place and a barbecue plate”), because it is easy to fall once you’re out there, especially with social media. Later in the track, Dom McLennon’s verse touches on his portrayal due to his mental health issues and how these don’t define him (“But I’m not ashamed, I’m not afraid of who I am / Or how I trust my mental, yeah, it’s not perfect”) and therefore how he doesn’t let that fact become something that can break him.
Usually, I avoid the whole genre of rap because of the monotony of the themes (usually drugs, sex and money). But, this BROCKHAMPTON, and irisdescence in particular, has taught me that it’s not a genre for flouncing what you have, but can also be a platform to talk about more personal issues that may affect the listener in a way more than money or sex could, and this is what, I think, the future of rap is. Not derogatory, not materialistic, but emotional and heartfelt, and BROCKHAMPTON are leading the charge.
iridescence was released on 21st September via Question Everything