Brockhampton are currently my favorite artists right now and for those unaware I’ll give a short introduction to who they are.
So, Brockhampton is a collection of artists with 6 performers, 3 producers, and other members that work behind the scenes. They rose to prominence in the hip-hop community in 2017 when they released 3 albums which were collectively called the Saturation Trilogy in a span of six months which were all met with critical acclaim. However, a year later they were met with controversy amidst abuse allegations made towards one of their members that they eventually had to kick out. This led to them scrapping the album they were about to release and in the wake of the controversy they eventually released their fourth album which was iridescence, an album that I really liked for its chaos and the rollercoaster ride of emotions.
So coming off all of these highs and lows the group has experienced is their fifth studio album, Ginger.
I went into this album blind by avoiding the four singles they released before dropping the album to get a better feel of the album as a whole and judging by the cover it seemed to hint at a mood that’s more toned down compared to their previous work.
Right off the bat, the opening track No Halo is a beautiful and haunting start to the album with guitar instrumentals and features Deb Never on the hook. It’s a somber start with subdued performances by the boys on their verses.
This is a stark contrast to how they opened their previous albums where they just start you out with a banger and lead you straight into all this action and energy. So the fact that they went against their conventional way of starting their albums shows that they want to show a different side of themselves with this.
This theme of melancholy and sadness continues with the next track called Sugar which is my favorite song off this record and the first song I would recommend to anyone that’s interested in listening to this album. Sugar is already in my top 10 Brockhampton songs of all-time. It’s a sad R&B type love song that again incorporates beautiful and subtle guitar instrumentals and it also has the catchiest and stickiest chorus sung by frequent collaborator, Ryan Beatty. If there’s anything you’re gonna remember with this song, it will be the chorus and it’s probably one of the best ones they’ve made.
The track that follows is Boy Bye, which is a good song on its own and worked well as a single. It’s a short song with a bouncy beat and has more energetic performances from the boys however looking at it in the context of the album it seems out of place especially looking at its place in the tracklist.
After Boy Bye, is Heaven Belongs to You with a surprise feature from up and coming UK rapper, Slowthai, who released a great album this year called Nothing Great About Britain. He comes in with a short but great verse that is accompanied with this gritty and menacing beat and this transitions smoothly to another favorite track of mine, St. Percy, which is probably the closest thing this album has to a banger.
It has the most aggressive production on the whole album with its blaring bass line and even if they don’t go all out on their verses to make the song a banger, they go hard enough to make your head bop throughout the whole song.
The next track if If You Pray Right which has my favorite instrumental out of the whole album. It has this haunting synth playing throughout the whole song and they incorporate horns into the beat really well. With this more energetic beat, the boys match it with their verses and I think this is one of the stronger tracks on this record.
Right after If You Pray Right is the most emotional, powerful, and raw track in the record which is Dearly Departed. The instrumental sounds like a soul track in the 70’s with beats and the song focuses on the controversy surrounding losing one of their members, Ameer Vann. Kevin Abstract’s first verse talks about losing Ameer as his best friend which was and how it impacted his life. Then the second verse by Matt Champion addresses his trust issues in life but the show-stealer in this is the final verse by Dom McLennon. He delivers his verse with such raw emotion and sadness and bitterness as he detailed an incident where Ameer set up one of their friends to get robbed and you can totally feel the anger and disgust in his voice and the song ends with you hearing Dom throwing away his headset and slamming the door in the recording studio. This is the kind of powerful song where you just have to take a moment to take everything in and pause for a second to let the feelings settle down.
And the problem I had with this album was I think that they placed the song too early in the tracklist. A song of this emotional magnitude should have been placed by the end of the record to make the listener more engrossed with what they just listened to. It also didn’t help that the song was followed by another of the more bouncy tracks in I Been Born Again.
Considering that I just listened to Dearly Departed right before it, the transition seemed a bit jarring to listen to a bouncier track. I think it’s a decent song but it felt a bit fleeting in the context of the album.
The title track, Ginger, I think is the weakest song in this and probably in Brockhampton’s whole discography. I think it just sounds too poppy in a bad way. It sounds like the most unoriginal thing they’ve done and I could totally see some other mainstream artist make a song similar to this.
The tenth track on this is Big Boy which is another good song that has a down and troubled instrumental and they talk about their struggles of growing up into adulthood and fits right into the theme of the album.
The penultimate track here is Love Me For Life, which for me is one of the weaker tracks on this record. Nothing stood out for me in this track, the production was okay and the performances were fine, it just didn’t hit me much emotionally compared to their other songs.
The final track on this record is Victor Roberts, performed by Victor Roberts, who is a friend of Dom McLennon. It was an interesting choice to give the longest verse of the album to someone not in the group, but Victor delivers with a very emotional and heartfelt performance as he talks about the turbulent history of his family with the police. After his verse, the group thanks everyone who has been by their side through all the ups and downs they’ve faced and the record ends with “Thank God for me”, which is like the boys acknowledging themselves and how proud they are that they were able to help themselves throughout this whole turbulent time.
Overall, I think this is a very solid album. I like how their personality and sound seems to have matured over time. It’s a good change of pace for them to have an album that has one central mood and not the rollercoaster ride their previous albums take you.
The main gripe I have with the album is the tracklisting. I thought that it was great that they were going for a more unified mood and tone throughout the whole album but I think the emotions would have flowed better if the track listing was changed a bit to accommodate some of the bouncier tracks in the middle part of the record and have the more emotional and melancholic songs at the beginning and the end so that we can let those emotions sink in when we start and finish listening to the album.
Make no mistake this is a sad and reflective album and if that isn’t the type of Brockhampton you’re looking for, then you can listen to all their previous work. But, if these somber songs are something you like listening to even if you aren’t really a fan of Brockhampton, then you should definitely give this album a listen.
Even though Ginger may not be one of Brockhampton’s strongest works, I think that this album still has great replay value especially if you’re in the mood for something personal and reflective and this album is still a step above the rest of some of the other hip-hop albums I’ve listened to this year.