Brockhampton's recovery from controversy
Brockhampton’s fourth studio album, “Iridescence,” can be seen as many things: a complaint, a cautionary tale, a confessional, the consequences of biting the hand that feeds you and the stunning realization that it’s your own hand. Brockhampton, a group whose goal was to redefine what it meant to be a boy band, has grown out of the novice, rebellious phase of their career into something far greater. Steadily gaining traction since 2016’s “All American Trash,” Brockhampton has become something of an anomaly in the industry. Nobody really knows what to make of them, but they are in love with what they’re doing. This album is the first time they’ve had a chance to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings and status. The themes that bob and weave throughout the album not only question if they are ready for what comes next, but also if they deserve it, and more importantly, if it is worth it. After the recent dismissal of former bandmate Ameer Vann, they grapple with how to move forward after losing a part of themselves.
In May of this year, Vann was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. The first woman, ex-girlfriend Rhett Rowan, came forward on May 12. Brockhampton had just signed to RCA records for $15 million not too long before these allegations arose, putting the group in a tough situation. Vann was by far one of the strongest rappers in the group. Evidence of this can be found in one of his most popular verses in “SWEET” from “SATURATION II.” His wordplay, mixed with his ever so subtle and cool flow, are familiar to any true Brockhampton fan. Although the boy band has many members, Vann was literally the face of Brockhampton. His face is the only one you see on all covers of the “SATURATION” trilogy. Vann was an integral part of the group, to say the least. However, on May 17, the band released a statement explaining that Vann would no longer be a part of the group and that the rest of their tour would be cancelled to allow the band time to regroup.
It was a hard loss for the group and many members clearly took personal responsibility for what happened. This has forced them to a point of self-reflection in their career. Brockhampton’s greatest strength is in the diversity of its performers, and that quality has never been so internalized than in this day. These differences on the surface level are stylistic: Merlyn Wood with only cadences his mouth could form, Joba swinging back and forth between the crooning of a troubled heart and the rage of a tortured mind, Matt Champion with twisting metaphors and personalities, and Kevin Abstract the maestro behind it all. On this album, though, each artist digs deep into their own mind and pulls out whatever they can find to help them cope with what’s happening around them.
“Iridescence” by definition is the phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to gradually change color as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes. After listening to the album, the meaning comes full circle, with each member dissecting their own goals, setbacks, life in the spotlight following Vann’s absence, their pasts and what the future may hold – not just for the group, but also for its members as individuals.
Producer Bearface really put everything into the album: The production from top to bottom is amazing, experimental and still somehow familiar. The album has a ton of great songs, not one skip on my end (unless it’s too sad), so I’ll give you my top three: “Berlin,” “J’Ouvert” and “Honey.” Honorable Mention: “Where the Cash At.”
The hype song that really stood out and showcased some great verses is “Berlin.” This song has a filthy, dirty southern beat, and the revving engine in the background throughout just adds to that amped, classic cool sound. This would be the theme song for the modern day greasers, if they were set somewhere in Texas or Georgia. I really loved hearing this song, from beginning to end, my favorite part being Joba saying “Dollas.”