Brockhampton – Iridescence - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Brockhampton – Iridescence

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2018-09-21
Brockhampton – Iridescence
Brockhampton – Iridescence

The rise of hip-hop group Brockhampton has been fast and ruthless. Christening themselves as a “boy band,” Brockhampton released three straight LPs in 2017, all part of the Saturation trilogy, and each expanding on their sound like a rolling ball of creativity and experimentation. After a rough Q2 for 2018, the collective is finally releasing their fourth proper Iridescence much to the glee of the hip-hop world.

Originally conceived online at a Kanye West forum, the group has morphed into a beast of influence – grime, R&B, Soundcloud rap, horror rap, Outkast-ian melody, and even noise – making them hard to categorize. Iridescence comes months after founding member (and the face of the band) Ameer Vann faced sexual assault allegations and was eventually kicked out over the Summer. With a lot riding on Iridescence, the main question is if Brockhampton can match the hype and rectify their cloudy past.

Whereas the Saturation trilogy followed a direct theme, Iridescence can be viewed as the first fully realized Brockhampton album. It’s lean, and even though it dabbles in all their influences and inspirations, it feels like their first cohesive statement. The loss of Vann doesn’t impact their style either, they overcome leaps and bounds as a collective, and every member gets their moment to shine. Kevin Abstract is the mastermind behind Brockhampton, and while he’s the centre of the album, there’s a bombardment of talent coming through on every track.

In 2013, Kanye West dropped one of the 2010s greatest hip-hop records in Yeezus, and Iridescence can be viewed as the spiritual successor to that. “New Orleans” opens the album with a loud, noisy thump, barreling from the starting line and incorporating noise rock almost, but keeping the hook grounded. Then, without warning, “Thug Life” throws us back to the 90s R&B – this is where that boy band label comes from, it’s straight pop-rap which isn’t surprising given the collective’s history for dabbling in so many different genres – similar to their biggest influence Odd Future.

“Berlin” is a grimey, beat-driven anthem, but “Weight” shifts to the auto-tune briefly before giving us near choir-singing harmonies and electronic beats that will make Daft Punk take notice. Abstract writes a sugary hook, while the verses are heartfelt and honest. Brockhampton needed to make a statement with Iridescence and they’ve done so beautifully. Not every track cuts deep or makes a grand statement, but whatever they lack they make up for in ferocity and excitement, like on “District” where the beats seem tailored for a club floor. “Tape” highlights Abstract’s sincerity, crafting an honest depiction of life for the true disenfranchised – “all my life I’ve felt inadequate” rings true for so many.

The one downside to Iridescence is the omission of Brockhampton’s summer singles like the club banger “1999 Wildfire” – one of the strongest efforts from the band this year, but they did include “Tonya” which features rising neo-soul/experimental R&B artist serpentwithfeet, which was a good call. Iridescence’s strength comes from the unity of the band. They flip back and forth between styles and rappers seamlessly, effortlessly, and the album shows a band avoiding the pitfalls of hype and delivering a necessary addition to their catalogue.  

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