GINGER: Brockhampton Reaches a New Level of Emotional Maturity


Credit to Brockhampton and RCA Records.

Joey Jones, Opinion Editor, Staff Writer

Brockhampton, despite losing a key member, struggling with mental health, and feeling in a sort of creative funk, still manages to pull through with “GINGER”, an album showcasing the musical strengths that make them unique and the emotional weaknesses that make them compelling. Brockhampton, stylized BROCKHAMPTON, is a musical collective consisting of several vocalists and multiple producers. 


They broke onto the scene with their Saturation trilogy, all released in 2017, immediately making a mark with inventive production, colorful rapping, and singing that drew from both bedroom pop and 90’s boybands. They then released their slightly more experiment venture, Iridescence, late last year to warm critical and fan reception. Brockhampton does in fact consider themselves a sort of neo-boyband, in an attempt to reinvent and expand the term. 


They share many qualities such as theatricality, costuming, and a certain performative energy. But where Brockhampton diverges from a group like N-Sync, besides musical style, is their ability to be deadly serious and to convey truly nuanced emotion. The first track on Ginger, “No Halo”, is a good example of this. 


The first verse, from member Matt Champion, is about his yearning to revive a relationship after a bad break-up. The next verse, rapped and sung by Merlyn Wood, is about his depression and his feelings of being trapped. Throughout the song, two hooks play interspersed with the verses. The first, a pitch-shifted chorus of several members, expresses their collective sense of being lost, and the next, with Matt, Merlyn, and collaborator Deb Never, melancholically sings “I’m sure I’ll find it/No one help me when my eyes go red”, as if it’s something they’re telling themselves in response to the first hook. 


And the final full verse, sung by another member, Joba, is a vignette exploring confusion about religion and his need to fall into the comfort of a divine plan. Other songs are less sad, but never really lose the introspection. The songs “Boy Bye”, “St. Percy”, “If You Pray Right”, and “I Been Born Again” all include these same topics but are bangers instead of ballads. Some lines stand out in this regard, like the bouncily-rapped line “Being sober made me realize how poorly I been behaving” from “Boy Bye”. 


Perhaps the weakest tracks are the title track and “Big Boy”, which both come at the tail end of the album before a very interesting feature track from collaborator Victor Roberts. “Big Boy” and “Ginger” suffer from an overuse of pitch-shifted vocals and largely unmemorable melodies and instrumentals. 


But one track dominates the entire album, right in the middle. “Dearly Departed” is a gut-wrenching song. 


After strong parts from members Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, and Joba, Dom McLennon delivers the best verse of his history with the group. He relays to us a story about his personal betrayal by former Brockhampton member Ameer Vann, who was ousted from the group for sexual assault and abuse allegations last year.


 According to the song, Ameer set up Dom’s friend to be robbed shortly after they moved to Texas. Dom, rightfully hurt, slowly boils his feelings, insulting Vann for his weakness and selfishness, until screaming the final word of his verse. It ends with the studio door slamming, obviously from Dom being overcome with emotion and reacting strongly. 


“Dearly Departed” acts as a microcosm of the album as a whole. Tight performances bubbling over with emotion, and a sharp sense for mood and tone. Despite weak points near the tail end, this album manages to leave the listener with a strong impression, and as a fan of the groups previous output I am definitely more than satisfied. I’d have to rate this a Strong 8 to a Light 9, a certified fantastic project.