BROCKHAMPTON’s fifth studio album (in just over two years) is an intense peer into the group’s splintered psyche, and a much needed therapy session after the trials and tribulations they encountered in the most recent chapter of their short career.
Although some of “GINGER” harks back to the abrasive and pounding bangers of the band’s early days, much of the material takes a deep look inward, notably surrounding their divorce with former core member Ameer Vann. After a year comprised of meteoric success and universally good vibes, the group was forced to reckon with the unthinkable as sexual assault allegations surfaced against Vann, ending with his departure just weeks later.
Their subsequent major label debut, “iridescence,” while being a decent album, failed to adequately digest the elephant in the room, perhaps intentionally. Much of the fervent BROCKHAMPTON fanbase wanted to move past that tumultuous time in the group’s brief existence and move forward and capitalize on RCA’s sizable investment in their future, to the tune of $15 million for six albums over three years. Putting all controversy aside, “iridescence” was a solid album, but paled in comparison to the lightning-in-a-bottle quality of the “SATURATION” trilogy.
“GINGER” is a wondrous return to form, but take heed: This will not be an easy album for much of the self-proclaimed boy band’s fans to take in. The project clocks in at 44 minutes front to back, and it contains some of the most emotional material ever put forward by the group.
The seventh track, “DEARLY DEPARTED,” closes with a passionate yet hurting verse by Dom McLennon, laying his thoughts bare on Vann. In a December 2018 tweet (since deleted), McLennon alleged that Vann set up the former’s friend to be jumped in Texas, the birthplace of the group. McLennon touches on this betrayal midverse:
“I kicked down the door inside a home I didn’t own just to save a friend’s life
Little did I know, the one who pulled the strings was once on my side.”
Once past all of the in-your-face venting of “GINGER,” there’s a much more somber realization to be had: The boys are depressed. After releasing projects and touring at a breakneck speed for a year and a half, the group took a six-month hiatus due to extreme burnout and stress. Their energy might be rejuvenated, but their spirits are still notably low and still in recovery. This exhaustion is none more apparent than the beautiful yet melancholy title track, where Matt Champion delivers a sobering stanza on his thoughts, crooning the touching lines:
“Some things outside of my control. I need some space, I need to grow. So I go, plague my soul. Say I won’t, I never tried to let you go so deep, deep, deep, deep.”
This may not be the album fans wanted, but it’s the one the band needed now more than ever. BROCKHAMPTON took their feelings that’ve been building up for years, and translated them into one of the best rap albums of the year. I’m immensely proud of the boys for putting their layered emotions into a complex yet replayable project, and I can’t wait to see where they go next.
Daniel Cohn is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.