BROCKHAMPTON is one of the most prolific and influential pop-rap groups to sprout in recent years. The group garnered a loyal fan base and critical success through the SATURATION trilogy and later matured with iridescence and GINGER. Despite widespread approval for all of their projects, there has to be a magnum opus. So, SATURATION II or GINGER? Two passionate ACRN writers plead their case in this column. Can they sway you?
Lauren McCain, Contributor: SATURATION II (2017)
With the sound of a literal buzzer (see track 1, “GUMMY”, 00:16) SATURATION II is off. Released as part two of the SATURATION trilogy in 2017, SATURATION II refuses to suffer from middle child syndrome. It packs the kind of energy and consistency that makes its sister albums envious, under the assumption that inanimate albums can have feelings.
SATURATION II is the energetic little brother of Brockhampton’s discography that comes into your room at 3 a.m. just to scream and leave. It is a loud, aggressive and powerful album that is in-your-face from start to finish. Infectious beats and dynamic bangers, like the growling G-funk beat of “GUMMY” and the grimy, snake-charming melody of “SWEET”, make this album a force to be reckoned with. Yeah, I’m looking at you, GINGER.
Front to back, there is not a bad track on SATURATION II, making it one of Brockhampton’s strongest albums to date without question. While it is evident that the group has matured since the release of the Saturation albums (and the removal of member Ameer Vann due to sexual misconduct allegations), neither GINGER nor iridescence seems to hit quite as hard as SATURATION II does track for track.
This is an album that is meant to be played at such an absurdly loud level in your friend’s packed SUV, that the passengers of the car next to you at a stoplight look over and stare. Even the more grounded tracks of the album, like Kevin Abstract’s melancholy breakup track “JESUS” and the echoey, autotuned “GAMBA”, are passionate and fail to disappoint. They allow listeners to catch their breath before the album downs another Red Bull and jumps back with aggressive, snarling tracks like “JUNKY”.
There is an incredible balance achieved in SATURATION II through being an inherently fun album that is also able to address serious topics including homophobia in the rap industry and the racial expectations of black men in America. “Why you always rap about bein’ gay?” Abstract shouts on “JUNKY”, “‘Cause not enough n***** rappin’ be gay!” To achieve such a balance is an impressive feat and one that SATURATION II tackles consistently throughout the album.
If you’re looking for an album to headbang to while crying in the fetal position, I’d suggest reaching for GINGER. But, if you’re looking for an album to blow out the speakers in your mom’s minivan after downing three entire cans of Red Bull, I can only recommend SATURATION II.
Kwase Lane, Staff Writer: GINGER (2019)
The All-American Boyband, Brockhampton’s fifth studio album, Ginger, is a goddamn masterpiece. Now, a lot of you may be saying, “Hey, you’re right, but SATURATION II is definitely better.” If that’s you, you’re entitled to your opinion, you sweet summer child, but you’ve never been more wrong in your life.
GINGER is an everyman’s album. How’re you feeling today? If you’re sad, you can toss on “DEARLY DEPARTED”. Need to hop around a little? If that’s the case, then “BOY BYE” is your song. Walking home from an early morning booty-call? Well, aren’t you lucky, “NO HALO” exists and is available on all major streaming services. GINGER is whatever you need it to be. Put it in your workout playlist, your breakup playlist, even your post-mortem mix if you want to. I don’t care as long as you’re listening to it.
It may be too early to tell, but I’m willing to bet both of my kidneys that GINGER will be markedly more memorable when the most talented group to grace streaming services breaks up. It’s only been two years since SATURATION II came out, but let’s be honest. How many songs from it are actually in your rotation? Songs like “GUMMY”, “JUNKY” and “SWEET” are unquestionably classics, but what about the rest of the pieces on the album? What about “TEETH” and “FIGHT” and “SUNNY”? They’re not bad, but they do sound like strung-out, half-assed attempts at a sound Brockhampton would ultimately master on GINGER.
Speaking of mastering one’s sound, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that every member of the group has gotten better at what they do. Jabari’s become an absolute monster at making beats that are equal parts danceable and tear-jerking, and bearface is no longer locked in a cage only to be released for one solo at the end of an album. GINGER is what it sounds like when every member is firing on all cylinders. If you still disagree, you can listen to GINGER and then hit me up on Twitter @YungCashforGold. On second thought, you can talk to god—I don’t want to hear it.