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Saturation III: Merging Boybands and Hip-Hop

January 9, 2018

     Hip-Hop is an ever-growing landscape. With both aspiring rappers and mainstream rappers releasing hours worth of music, it can be hard to stand out; but "America's favourite boy-band," BrockHampton does just that. Founded in 2014 by Kevin Abstract, BrockHampton quickly gained recognition within the hip-hop genre for their outstanding production and provocative lyrics. BrockHampton actively rebels against the status quo. With 14 diverse members, they manage to make every track they release different and to express their personalities through lyrical genius and production. They flit from disco and funky vibes to smooth jazz and pop rap with ease. Each member makes use of their vocals as they fluctuate from smooth, distinctive flows to high pitched, hypnotic singing and even screaming at a point. Drawing influence from Kanye West, Odd Future and Tyler the Creator, BrockHampton has the ability to release a wide variety of unique music and their work in Saturation III proves just this.
     Throughout 2017, BrockHampton began their most ambitious project yet, a trilogy of albums released throughout the course of the year each dubbed "Saturation". The goal in mind was to simply 'saturate' the hip-hop charts so they would be inescapable, gain more listeners and to prove their work ethic. In December of that year, they released their final entry to the trilogy, Saturation III. Within 15 tracks of Saturation III, BrockHampton effectively takes the listener on a journey. From excitement and adventure to contemplation and tranquillity; from chaos and humour to disposition and earnestness. The moment the listener presses the play button they are bound to a journey exploring anger, happiness, pride, insecurity and self-love. By taking you through this journey, BrockHampton wants you to understand both your own and others' emotions while still being able to dance and mouth along to catchy lyrics.  
     The 7th track stands out most on the album as it incorporates elements of jazz rap and trip-hop. Titled "BLEACH," in 4 minutes and 33 seconds, BrockHampton gives the listener an experience that cannot be recreated. The beginning starts off with a record scratch, a common stylistic approach. "Who got the feeling//Tell me why I cry when I feel it// Tell me why?" is repeated several times throughout the song with a mellow and high pitched voice. The three simple lines explore the what it feels like to experience emotions that you try to conceal. The hook accompanied by clever wordplay such as, "phone ringing, never out, going, home// Body never outgoing, put my doubts on when these walls up," adds to the theme of not being able to express emotions and secluding oneself in order to hide such emotion. Towards the final minute of the song, the beat pauses and changes from dulcet and quiet to a more grand and upbeat rhythm accompanied by sombre singing reflecting on the previous depressive state of the song due to being so closed off. The dangers of closing yourself off are beautifully expressed here; showing that no matter how much you avoid your feeling they are inescapable and eventually will have to come out and it will be for the better.  
     While BLEACH reflects on what it's like to close yourself off while struggling with trust issues and mental instability the leading track of the album "BOOGIE" reflects on what it's like to finally reach the peak of the mountain. The song starts off with an infectious funk 70s vibe accompanied with loud police sirens that can be heard throughout the albums. Using a saxophone alongside police sirens is nothing any ordinary artist alone would think of. Later on in the song, a sample of video game music is heard. Words cannot begin to describe the oddity that the production of this song is, yet it still manages to be contagiously toe-tapping. "I've been beat up my whole life// I've been shot down, kicked out twice// Ain't no stoppin' me tonight// I'ma get all the things I like," the infectious hook heard throughout the song is enough to keep you think of the song while you go about your day. It's in this simple 4 line hook where the listener begins to appreciate the message being sent through. once you begin to appreciate your own mind and body you'll gain new perspectives.
     More notable songs within the album include "LIQUID" wherein the struggles of a broken home and the loneliness that comes along with it with lines such as "I was playing rock, paper, scissors with imaginary friends// Imagine having no friends." In the album's lengthiest song, "SISTER/NATION," vocalist Joba goes into the details of his personality disorder. "They just grew louder and louder// They called the people who'd just chatter and chatter// I juggle all my personalities," he methodically raps giving a chilling sensation. In lead single "RENTAL," BrockHampton explores the idea of merging ostentatious lyrics with calming production. "Ridin' on the roof with a dollar sign// Attached to my head, head, head, head, head, head, head, head," is the song trap inspired hook yet instead of being met with harsh snare drums the listener is introduced to slow and melodic piano. In the final track "TEAM" the listener is serenaded with a seemingly sweet love song. Towards, the second verse, however, BrockHampton share their insecurities regarding their status in the music industry. "I got a hard time, I gotta watch myself// The way I move through a room full of suits//Ain't no, ain't no Constitution, I hate uniforms." Here they describe what it's like to be a diverse group of young black men in an industry where it's seen as abnormal.  
     Saturation III simply stands out the most within the saturation trilogy. The perfect end to an already perfect project. Whether you need to stare at the stars for answers or nod your head to some of hip-hop's best new talents, Saturation III has it all. It's the perfect representation of what BrockHampton is all about. New, full of personality and unapologetically themselves. As the hip-Hop genre continues to grow and more of it continues to sound the same, albums such as this and collectives such as BrockHampton need to exist. Their experimental beats and versatility are what makes them so crucial to the genre. They're more than the ordinary snare drums you hear so often in trap music. They're more than the benal singing you hear too often in pop rap. BrockHampton knows how to explore the boundaries of music and this is more prevalent than ever in Saturation III. They've managed to create their own vibrant universe within a single album, a universe where it's okay to cry, laugh and dance all at the same time.


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1 Comment
  • Kevin Hawley

    Everybody sleeps on Brockhampton, this is great writing.

    about 3 years ago