Writer: Kyle Wheelock
In 2010, a thread was created on a Kanye West fan forum that lead to the formation of Brockhampton: a self proclaimed Boyband/hip-hop collective based in Los Angeles (with several members hailing from Texas!). Inspired by contemporary hip-hop acts like Odd Future, Kid Cudi, and, of course, Kanye West, several users connected and began using their individual strengths to work on their craft. Consisting of rappers, singers, instrumentalists, actors, graphic designers, and videographers, Brockhampton definitely has no shortage of talent or work ethic. The group has been quite busy this year with the rollout of their Saturation trilogy, which included Saturation 1 in June, Saturation 2 in August, and now Saturation 3.
Putting out three albums worth of material with accompanying music videos in one year is no small feat, yet Brockhampton as managed to do it (while staying independent no less), and the results have been quite surprising and refreshing in my opinion, and Saturation 3 is no different.
Now, despite the fact that I really like this album and love the trilogy as a whole, it isn’t perfect. Being a trilogy, there are a lot of recurring flows, themes, and structures, and Saturation 3 is no different. The album sees the members rapping in the same style about the same subject matter which can admittedly get stale. Granted, this could be a creative decision to keep consistency across a trilogy, which would be a fair move. In any case, the point still stands that they haven’t experimented too much with their formula, even I will admit that.
However, while this could be a con to some, I actually don’t mind. More of the same would be a bad thing to me, if I didn’t love the Brockhampton formula. Yes, they’ve had a few duds here and there, but they’ve had far more hits across this trilogy, and once again, Saturation 3 is no different. The gang brings a health mix of hype and chill on their tracklist, and just about every hook they throw out on their songs is infectious (Track 2, Zipper, is a perfect example of this). This is another one of those constants in the trilogy and it’s one that has given all three albums such replay value for me. At any given moment I can be minding my own business, and I’ll catch myself humming a Brockhampton chorus over and over again.
Another element that adds to the replay value of Saturation 3 is the production, which is easily the highlight of the entire trilogy. While the hooks on this project can be incredibly memorable, the actual lyrical ability of Brockhampton isn’t anything mind blowing. This isn’t to say they’re terrible rappers, because they’re not, they can hold their own and occasionally dish out a line or two that will illicit some kind of response from even the most stingy listeners. That all being said, the production is hands down what carries these albums.
The first track, Boogie, is just flat out wild. With all the filtered vocals, the hyper delivery and bouncy, in your face beat, Boogie sounds like an old N.E.R.D. song from the early 2000s. Track 3, Johnny, has this mellowed out saxophone sample that loops over and over again that you can just bob your head to, it’s a total opposite to Boogie. The seventh track, Bleach, is similar in this way, a very chill and wavy beat for listeners to vibe to while the group drops introspective lines about their life. Bleach also has some G-Funk inspired sounds in it that call to mind an old Dr. Dre beat and is easily one of my favorite Brockhampton tracks overall.
The production stays solid all the way but clearly jumps on the eleventh track, Sister/Nation, a six minute track that features one of the smoothest beat switches in the entire trilogy. The Sister portion of the track has this glitchy, aggressive 16-bit synth that makes you feel like you’re in the wrong part of the Tron system and has the members going crazy with their brash delivery. Brockhampton’s ability to go from energetic to relaxed back and forth without it ever really getting old is a byproduct of the fact that they have so many talented musicians in their group.
Kevin Abstract, Ameer Vann, Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, and Dom McLennon are like the Golden State Warriors: A lineup of All Stars on their own who can come together and flat out dominate as a team. These guys can rap and sing well enough that, when combined with the production from Romil Hemnani, JOBA, and Q3, they can crank out track after track after track of quality work.
The Saturation trilogy has been such a treat to hip-hop music this year. Yes, the repeating themes and flows can be a turnoff to some, but I personally don’t think this outweighs all the good that these guys do when they’re creating. Kevin Abstract is the king when it comes to crafting hooks, Hemnani and JOBA are wizards with their melodies, and bearface is an unsung hero when he makes his brief appearances. I don’t know where each of the three albums rank in relation to each other, but if we’re talking top albums of 2017, Saturation 3 has to be in my top ten, if not top five.
Brockhampton has done it again, and put together a high quality final product. If you like weirdness or want something different, check them out, they have something for everyone.
TL;DR: Pretty Great, give it a listen
Highlights: Every track except for Hottie