Words by Kelsey Paulus
Yet another comeback by BROCKHAMPTON has shown the hip-hop boy band in a light they have never been seen in before. “GINGER” made its release into the world on August 23, 2019, after much teasing via the release of four singles and a copious amount of merchandise – nothing short of what usually comes of a new album from the group.
Following a rather bumpy rebound after a God-like trilogy completed in under a year’s time, the band is now back on track. While their fourth studio album, “iridescence,” still contains worthwhile songs and discusses troubling events that have transpired within the band’s timeline, the emotions it expressed were somewhat convoluted. One of BROCKHAMPTON’s defining traits is their ability to crank out projects quicker and more efficiently than the average band, mainly due to the number of members on their team, adding up to 13 of them. This worked well during the “SATURATION” trilogy days, but seemed to be disconnected when they tried again for their fourth album. And just a month short of a year later, “GINGER” has brought the boy band back to their roots to reflect on their time together.
While many fans expected an album full of bangers for the summer season, their ears were instead met with solemn subjects accompanied by subtle, yet still impressive, production – a much-needed change in sound for the group. In the past, projects have been filled to the brim with perfectionist techniques, with almost every song detailed with upbeat characteristics. Now, the band has taken a step back and has taken the time to reflect upon their past as a group and on their personal lives as a whole.
One of the most admirable traits of the new album is the maturation in the group’s lyricism. While BROCKHAMPTON has always talked about topics such as mental health, drugs and their troubling hometowns, “GINGER” defines them in ways the group has never shown before. It is not necessarily an increase of these topics, but rather the manner and tone in which they are discussed. Upon one’s first listen to the album, well-defined by opening track “NO HALO,” it is easy to see that the group is taking a step away from their lyrics being hidden behind crazy beats and moving more towards their songs using lyrics as the shining stars in songs. “NO HALO” sets the scene for the rest of the album, with each of the members discussing hardships that they face in everyday life, best expressed by the line “No one help me when my eyes go red.”
“ST. PERCY” and “LOVE ME FOR LIFE” both define the true tone behind the album. With grimier production and deeper bass, these songs reflect the solemn topics discussed throughout the whole project. These two songs provide diversity to the album as a whole, straying away from the typical shock value production that BROCKHAMPTON typically exhibits. Not to say that the production is anything short of greatness, but the messages relayed are not diluted by an abundance of distinctive synth beats.
Although songs such as “SUGAR,” “BOY BYE” and “GINGER” have upbeat notations, the meanings behind each of them are rather somber. This relays one of the more important messages behind the album, that in our lives, we tend to accentuate our most positive events and features, regardless of what is truly happening. Many people tend to hide behind a mask, as cliche as it typically sounds. This concept is well-represented throughout the entirety of “GINGER.” Hypothetically, if the group had previously wanted to return to the old days of living together in the BROCKHAMPTON house, cranking out music nonstop and resisting the urge to sign to a label, they realize now that that time has passed and it is time for them to move on. These memories are fond to not only to the band but to many fans as well. And while many fans would love to hold onto the days of the “SATURATION” era, it is going to take acceptance of growth of the group to move forward.
Throughout the promotion of the album, member Kevin Abstract proclaimed many times that this summer was going to be a “ginger summer.” Tagging back to the idea of a banging album, this may be seen as an “empty promise” due to the difference between expectations and the true nature of the album. However, a “GINGER” summer is one seemingly void of creating good memories, and more so about reflecting on ones of the past. A “GINGER” summer is one of reminiscence. A “GINGER” summer is one of accepting the past as it is and moving forward. Although many times we wish to return to the way that our lives were before, it is best to sit back and reflect on the good times. Personally, while this summer still contained many great memories and events that I am fond of, it was mainly one of reflecting on the past few years. And these reflective seasons are some of the healthiest times of our lives that we can experience, just as it is healthy for a group to experience growth and to move on from their identity in the past. From now on, BROCKHAMPTON is going to move forward in a positive light regardless of what they have been identified as before.
Follow Kelsey Paulus on social media @kelseypaulus