Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Brockhampton Break Hearts With New Album ‘The Family’

Following on from their unmistakably electrifying Coachella set, BROCKHAMPTON supposedly wave goodbye with final album ‘The Family’ a heartfelt ode to the breakup story of the thirteen-member collective. 

As ever, the release has fans wondering if this really is the end for - as Kevin Abstract branded them - “The best boy band since One Direction”. And they are right to question, with the release of an additional surprise album ‘TM’ that dropped 18th November, the band gift-wrapped yet another gem for their elated fans following this scheduled ‘final’ release.

Seemingly thriving under the chaos and pressure of superstar life, the group have clearly experienced the extremes that fame can bring and all of the emotional turmoil that comes with it.  Evident throughout this new 17-track project, solely performed by frontman Kevin Abstract, the album focuses on the journey the collective have undertaken and tells their story through the past, present and future.

With an early 00s mixtape flow merged with soul samples,  ‘The Family’ feels like an acknowledgment to the music that the group were shaped by and contains a touch of happy nostalgia. This is contrasted directly with heavy and emotionally driven lyrical content, as Kevin raps: “The group is over without being on an album … The label needed 35 minutes of music”.  

The album sports electric shifts in texture and tone throughout, and favours raw unfiltered spoken word samples over harmonic or soft vocals - adding a sense of complete disruption and unpredictability, something the collective is infamous for. 

It is clear Kevin Abstract has gone through emotional extremes when creating this album. Throughout ‘The Ending,’ Abstract declares, “This is the most corrupted vision / I turned my friendship into a business into an empire”, alluding to the complicated journey he has undertaken when creating the ‘vision’ that is Brockhampton.

Abstract’s emotional rollercoaster continues with contrasting themes throughout tracks such as ‘RZA’, where he highlights his love for where he comes from, yet the anguish he has felt when disrespecting his mother: “All of the songs where I diss my mum helped me help her stay in her home / Now I’m finna lose my home so never diss where you come from”.  There is also a sense of underlying pressure on the artist when he touches on the advice his mother gives about his own family:  “Me and your dad were fighting, we stayed together … Be like your mom and keep the band together”  We see this mental battle between breaking away and staying unified throughout, with lyrics such as “I get so lost in my motherfuckin’ head” alluding to a more vulnerable side to the artist's mental state.

The final track titled ‘Brockhampton’  is the longest on the project. Kevin dedicates heartfelt lines to each member and touches on issues such as the band’s relationships to one another, their journey to the top, and his own personal issues with alcohol and how this has affected the group dynamic. The track abruptly comes to a close with Kevin yelling “The show is over / Get out your seats!”, before a notable finale with closing lyrics: “After all that we’ve been through / Breaking up is hard to do”.

With the multi-talented hip-hop phenomenon that is Brockhampton, who can say what is next in store after their brilliant, tumultuous set of recent offerings. All we know is… Christmas is coming… and we want ‘The Family’ back together. 


Felicity Giles

Image: BROCKHAMPTON - 'The Family' Official Album Cover

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