A few decades ago, cutting-edge media was dictated by companies in sweeping and calculated moves, but the widespread use of the internet by artists such as Arctic Monkeys and Odd Future rebuked traditional formulas and made anywhere a potential breeding ground for boundary-pushing ideas. Now, Brockhampton is emerging from oft-forgotten Texas town of San Marcos, taking aim at hip-hop culture by forming the self-proclaimed internet’s first All-American boy band.
From rappers to producers, photographers and more, Brockhampton’s frequently changing number of members is currently at 17. They are relatively unknown — and it seems they want to keep it that way. Forming a music and media empire is their main priority, but for now the albums speak for themselves. Brockhampton is focused on acting as a whole rather than mere parts, an idea evident on their sophomore LP, SATURATION II.
Lofty goals aside, Brockhampton’s music at its core is pop-rap, a genre manipulated over the past decade to take several forms. Their debut record, SATURATION, jumped from topic to topic, bringing traditional pop-rap instrumentals while running the gamut on everything from LGBTQ rights, growing older and mental health, but lacking a general cohesion. SATURATION II, which comes only a couple of months after the release of its predecessor, finds itself improving on the groundwork Brockhampton previously laid. A seemingly effortless statement of the group’s passion, it brings a newfound topical consistency that few, if any, modern hip-hop collectives can match.
Kicking off with the pure adrenaline shot that is “GUMMY,” each rapper introduces themselves to the audience as if they were a heist team. The dream team’s default leader Kevin Abstract comes out with guns blazing, rapping “These n****s take me for granted, what would hap’ if I vanished? Bet a hunnid they’d panic, my shooters only speak Spanish,” referencing the track’s video introduction. The pervasive g-funk synth on the track pairs perfectly with its beat, and “GUMMY” makes it obvious that Brockhampton feeds off of its own energy, making each track as fruitful as possible.
The rest of the 15 tracks on this LP further build Brockhampton’s clout, especially with close examination. Having a hand in almost every song on the record, Kevin Abstract acts as a bit of a maestro with his fantastic and energetic hooks. Several rappers, especially Dom McLennon and Merlyn Wood, stand out with intricate and catchy bars, bringing their own personality to contribute to Brockhampton’s youthful and energetic brand.
The true star of the show is Brockhampton’s production team. Led by Romil Hemnani, the six producers of this album all bring different feelings to their respective tracks, but manage to tie in the instrumentals thematically with each song’s title and the overall perspective of the record. The standout tenth track “JUNKY” features bars about each rapper’s inner struggles, confronting sexuality, drug abuse and more. Paired with a beat that places the listener on edge for the entire track, “JUNKY” demands attention and appreciation for the production team’s efforts.
Plowing through emotions and antics like a hot knife through butter, the tracks of this LP have an amateur charm but flow from one extreme to another with ease. After one listen to this record, it’s apparent that SATURATION II blows its predecessor out of the water. If Brockhampton’s goal was to rethink hip-hop culture and redefine what being a collective means, they certainly hit their mark.