REVIEW: BROCKHAMPTON explore nuances of fame on ‘Iredescence’

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“Iridescence” is the fourth studio album from hip-hop collective (often called “boyband”) BROCKHAMPTON. This is the first release from the group since signing with RCA records and since ousting rapper Ameer Vann, featured on the covers of all three “Saturation” albums, following allegations of sexual assault. The road to “Iridescence” was rocky due to the cancellation of three prior albums  “Team Effort,” “Puppy” and “The Best Years of Our Lives.” Even with these roadblocks the boys of BROCKHAMPTON still made one of the most interesting, experimental and unique albums I’ve heard.

The album kicks off with the song “New Orleans,” which is only a small glimpse into the craziness you are going to hear while listening to this album. The song kicks off with a fiery verse from Dom McLennon, followed by the catchy chorus by Kevin Abstract. The song also features a bridge sang by Bearface as well as verses from Matt Champion, Joba, and Merlyn Wood and a feature by Jaden Smith.

The song seamlessly transitions to the next song “Thug Life,” a shorter track running only about two minutes. However, Dom McLennon and Kevin Abstract are joined by the angelic vocals of Bearface.

“Berlin” shifts the album back towards the harder and dirtier tone, even with Bearface singing on the chorus: “She said ‘Baby boy, why you looking grimy as shit?’ I’ll make the wristwatch flood, let diamonds fill my sink.” The song ends with a wild guitar solo and a standout verse by Joba that will have you singing along as he yells, “Never asked for the drama, but I’ll turn it into dollars; Dollars, dollars, dollars.”

The mood instantly becomes sweet as Kevin Abstract sings “Something About Him.” The song is a ballad towards Abstract’s boyfriend Jaden Walker, according to a tweet from Abstract.

“Where The Cash At” is another crazy and wild song about how the boys have now gotten to a point where they don’t really worry about financial problems because they have gotten to a point where they can just be free.

“Weight” is one of the highest points of the album, and possibly of all of BROCKHAMPTON’s catalog. This song shows all the members at their most vulnerable but also their best. The track is highlighted by the opening verse by Kevin Abstract where he talks about being used by others now that he is famous, feeling like he’s not good enough and BROCKHAMPTON’s photographer and friend of Abstract Ashlan Grey self-harming. The song also includes emotional verses from Joba and Dom also rapping and singing about how they deal with the problems of becoming famous.

“District” is another hard, upbeat and dark song with Matt Champion and Joba stealing the spotlight on this with Matt’s dark and angry verse and Joba’s crazy verse that again will have you chanting, “Praise God hallelujah, I’m still depressed.”

“Tape” is another time we see the boys’ emotional side with verses by Abstract, McLennon, Joba and Champion all contemplating fame, life and self-doubt.  The album kicks back up to the hype with “J’OUVERT,” which includes verses from Champion, Bearface and Merlyn Wood; however, Joba steals the show with an angry hate-filled verse about how fame affects people, fake friends and just being against “the system.”

“Honey” is an interesting song due to the instrumental and beat sounding more like a pop song than a typical rap song, even sampling Beyoncé’s “Dance For You” for the second half of the song.

The song “Vivid” is another electronic fast-paced song, though not really a stand-out point for the group.

The last three songs, however, show the beauty of this album entirely. “San Marcos” is a slow song featuring a smooth guitar until, at around the three-minute mark, a choir comes in to sing the outro accompanied by violins and percussion. “Tonya” is possibly the greatest song they have ever made with each vocal member featured. Bearface opens the song with an intro about how he wishes he’d call his mom more. Abstract’s verse is another emotional verse about fame with a line about close friend and former member Ameer Vann’s allegations of sexual assault: “I feel like brothers lie just so my feelings don’t get hurt.” He is followed by a soothing bridge by Joba and another great verse by Dom. The last verse is delivered by Merlyn Wood, not known for an emotional rap style; however, he delivers one of the most powerful verses of the album, rapping about how his parent don’t fully support his music dreams. The album ends with the song “Fabric,” which, while a solid addition, isn’t as strong of a closing as “Tonya” would have been.

Altogether, this album is BROCKHAMPTON at their best, and when they are on, they are really on. “Iridescence” is nothing like what the group has done before. It is their most emotional, experimental and unique work yet

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