Illustration by Clara Hollowgrass
It seems that the music industry has perfected a formula for artistic success over the years. Big record labels and producers have found a way to manipulate musicians into creating music that will turn a big profit, with basically no margin of error. The result is the songs we hear on the radio, which without fail have little variation from one to the next, and often mean nothing to the artist.
“The Internet’s first boy band,” Brockhampton has found a way to avoid this plague. The group is entirely self-sufficient, to the extent that they own their own record label, Question Everything Inc..
So far, they’ve dropped three albums in the span of six months, all installments of the Saturation trilogy. A certain amount of their staggering productivity can be attributed to the practically unheard-of magnitude of members which runs fourteen strong (formerly nineteen). However, the unbelievable output is mostly due to the group’s unstoppable drive and mission to “saturate” the world with their music until they’re impossible to ignore.
The last installment of the Saturation trilogy, Saturation III, dropped on December 15. The teaser track,“BOOGIE,” came in strong with immense kinetic energy and made it seem like Saturation III was headed in the direction of complete passion and intensity. However, as the album progresses it becomes increasingly personal and introspective. “SISTER/NATION,” for example, begins with a verse about becoming violent after coming off mood-stabilizers. This is a fairly consistent theme in all the Saturation albums, the first two tracks or so of the album are energetic and dancy, but the album gradually diverges into a reflection on the ugly, uncomfortable moments in life.
This has a (most likely intentional) effect on the album which is that the listener feels the satisfaction of getting to know someone. In fact, Saturation III is arguably at it’s best when listened to as a whole.
The ridiculous amount of members in Brockhampton plays to their advantage in a lot of ways. While they clearly specialize in hip-hop, their genre is difficult to define because every member incorporates their own unique influence into the sound of the collective.
A perfect example is the incorporation of Spanish spoken word by Roberto in every installment of the Saturation trilogy. The spoken word is usually accompanied by a chill, almost undetectable beat, and often serves as a needed pause from the intensity of the rest of the album.
It’s proof that a group of artists can successfully express themselves as distinguishable individuals without losing the ability to mesh together and create something beautiful.
The beauty of Brockhampton is that it’s entirely composed of deeply self-aware, and often self conscious people. They’re painting an honest picture about how people see themselves. There are moments of extreme self-love, moments of extreme self-hate, and the impossible fear that accompanies a lack of perspective.