BROCKHAMPTON’s First 2021 Release: ‘Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine’

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Texas hip-hop group Brockhampton released their latest album, “Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine,” which is drastically different from their 2019 “Ginger” album. The sixth studio album was influenced by Joba’s — the group’s vocalist and sound engineer — father’s death. “Roadrunner” tackles racism, injustice and facing reality through the sound of dance keys and groovy bounces. Combining elements from “Ginger” and their 2017 album, “Saturation,” “Roadrunner” has pop melodies with the experimental vocals that Brockhampton is known for.  

“‘New Light’ to me, was speaking to the state of the world and finding new hope,” Joba said in an interview with Vulture. “‘New Machine’ is about the resolidified family unit that isn’t afraid of anything.” Romil revealed that the album took two years to create and was in the works when the band turned in “Ginger.” 

The album begins with “Buzzcut” featuring Danny Brown. This track was the first musical release from the band in January 2021. The album’s opener sets the tone for the rest of the soundtrack. Founding member Kevin Abstract posted on his Instagram that it took him 100 takes to get his verse right.

This album has a handful of collaborations, from JPEGMAFIA to ASAP Rocky. Brockhampton teams up with both members of the ASAP Mob, ASAP Rocky and ASAP Ferg, in “Bankroll.” This track had been in the works since 2018 and was teased in that year. This long-anticipated track has a nonchalant sound that gradually transforms into the group’s style of loud and distorted vocals. This track is my favorite since it includes artists that I am already a fan of. Each track has its own visualizer, which the group posted on their official YouTube channel.

Another favorite is “Don’t Shoot Up the Party,” the 11th track. This track tackles gun violence, racism and homophobia. Kevin Abstract takes the lead, followed by Matt Champion taking verse two. Matt Champion raps, “Don’t give a damn what the journalist wrote / Always dead inside like they in the catacombs” to call out the inhumaneness of humanity.  

“Don’t give a damn what the journalist wrote / Always dead inside like they in the catacombs”

– Matt Champion, “Don’t Shoot Up the Party”

Brockhampton has faced serious controversy in the last few years as a result of sexual assault allegations and the departure of members. The first time I listened to the band when they were at their peak in 2019 during the ‘GINGER’ era. My all-time favorites from Brockhampton are “Sugar” and “Boy Bye,” so I had high expectations for this new album.  

Overall, I like it. “Roadrunner” does not top “Ginger,” though. I missed Brockhampton’s old sound, but I appreciate how the group is always leveling up and innovating something new for fans.  

Brockhampton plans to release two albums by the end of 2021, including “Roadrunner.” Their second album will be their final album, as the group plans to disband after 2021.

Rating: 4/5 

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