There’s no way Ian “Kevin Abstract” Simpson could’ve imagined that a simple 2010 post in the KanyeToThe online forum (Mr. West’s most notable fan site) would eventually result in a meteoric rise to fame. Not a chance. At the time, Abstract asked if any of his fellow users wanted to form a hip–hop band, and soon enough, AliveSinceForever was created with Ameer Vann, Dom McLennon, and Rodney Tenor.
Let’s fast forward through the next six years: the collective rebrands itself as Brockhampton, they release a few mixtapes, and they make a few waves in alternative circles. Still, the growing group of artists and producers remain in relative anonymity. They were probably going to fade away and eventually split up, right? Nope—the opposite occurred. One year and three albums later, Brockhampton is the hottest name in the business.
Brockhampton is like nothing else—their genre floats among hip–hop, alternative rap, and a little R&B. Each member has an important role, be it rapping, singing, production, creative direction, management, social media, or a combination of those. Some songs feature one member, some feature six. No two tracks are overly similar.
In a society where mainstream rap remains one of the most homophobic branches of the music industry, founder Abstract openly embraces his queer identity on social media and in their records. It's a complete rarity and serves as another reason why the group stands out among their competition.
Brockhampton's setup and structure is very unique, and it works extremely well. Since the June release of debut album Saturation, the band has churned out quality content and somehow already released two sequels. It’s awfully difficult to think of other artists or groups that have released three albums in half a year. Hell, that’s impressive.
With that said, Street decided to rank the Saturation trilogy:
Bringing up the rear of the list is the record that started Brockhampton fever. It’s fitting that the first song is titled “HEAT,” as the band storms out of the gate with songs full of braggadocio, messages of self–acceptance, and stories of lost love. Standout tracks include “GOLD,” “STAR,” “FACE,” and “WASTE,” which alternate between reflecting the unflappable and vulnerable sides of the artists’ personalities. Saturation showcases Abstract, McLennon, and Vann at their finest, but occasionally makes fellow contributors Merlyn Wood, Matt Champion, and Russell “Joba” Boring feel left out as a result. The album falters slightly in its middle portion, where the lyrical skill and content drops in quality on songs like “FAKE” and “BANK,” creating a slight feeling of incoherence. Saturation’s opening and ending salvos more than make up for its average middle portion, but it still remains in last. The sequels are simply better.
2) Saturation III
Saturation III is Brockhampton’s way of saying, “Hey, we want to show you we’ve grown a lot as artists, and here’s the proof.” It’s difficult to not shed a tear to the emotional lines of “BLEACH,” as the artists comment on introversion and misery. “JOHNNY” and “HOTTIE” are excellent thought pieces on the collective’s success and place in the world, while “SISTER/NATION” is a chilling two–part social commentary on race relations and the struggles of being a celebrity. If there’s any issue with Saturation III, it’s that some of its most jarring instrumentals are just that—too grating to be pleasing to every listener’s ears, particularly on “BOOGIE.” However, examples of said beats remain few and far between, which is why it comes second in our ranking.
1) Saturation II
Saturation II is a tour de force from start to finish—make no mistake, there isn’t a single bad song. From the G–funk–inspired beats to the smoothly flowing verses in “GUMMY,” the album is a sonic masterpiece. “JELLO” exudes an infectious energy upon the listener as Abstract, Champion, Vann, and McLennon boast about their newfound stardom. Meanwhile, “JUNKY” includes a brilliant confrontation with homophobia in the rap community from Abstract. “SWEET” is Brockhampton at its finest, with each vocalist flexing his lyrical muscle. Dealing with themes of sexuality, racism, and self–consciousness, there is no weakness in Saturation II, even an interlude such as “TEETH” features an outstanding personal verse from Vann. For that, it ranks as the best of the trilogy.