Self-proclaimed boy band Brockhampton found popularity in the rap scene with their three-part album series, Saturation, Saturation II and Saturation III, released throughout 2017. However the group was formed in San Marcos, Texas in 2015. Currently made up of 14 members, although only six voices mainly are heard on their newest album, iridescence.
The group’s first album since kicking out former member Ameer Vann amidst domestic violence claims, many thought iridescence would not be as strong as Brockampton’s earlier projects. The album cover depicts a pregnant woman, who is thought to many to represent the band’s “rebirth.” Despite the challenges the collective faced to get there, iridescence is a wonderful album that contains some of the best songs the group have ever produced.
The album begins with banger “New Orleans,” opening up with a strong verse from Dom McLennon and followed by a catchy chorus by group leader Kevin Abstract. The standout verse on the track has to come from member Joba, who’s unique vocal inflection adds a layer of interest and difference to the song. Also featured on the track in the second chorus is Jaden Smith, long time supporter of the group, which came as a surprise to me since Smith’s name is not listed.
“New Orleans” transitions flawlessly into the next track, titled “Thug Life,” in which only the beat remains and a piano riff begins. When I first listened to the album, I didn’t even notice the song had changed because of how smooth of a transition it is. Only a two minute track, “Thug Life” has proven to be one of my favorites because of the relaxed vocals from member Bearface on much of the track.
Similar to “Thug Life” is “Weight,” iridescence’s sixth track. An emotionally raw song, “Weight” addresses the weight the members feel are on their shoulders. With each verse, the listener is able to get a glimpse into the minds and hearts of each member, making for a very relatable and empathetic song and one that stands out lyrically.
My second favorite song on the album comes in at 11 in the tracklist. “Honey” is an upbeat, dance banger that samples Beyonce’s “Dance For You,” as well as the song “Bump” from Brockhampton’s own Saturation. The intro and first verse by Abstract sets up the catchy verse that follows from member Merlyn Wood. While the beat may be dance-worthy, lyrically the song takes another turn, as McLennon’s verse shows, talking about discrimination African-Americans face: “I don’t feel their empathy, we been displaced too many times. Every summer in the city start to feel like Columbine…” About halfway through the song, the tempo changes and the beat disappears, leaving only a dreamlike sequence with crisscrossing vocals from Beyonce, McLennon, Abstract and Matt Champion.
My favorite track on the album is “San Marcos,” a reference to the city in which the band finds their roots. The song delves into the band’s desire to leave their past behind and begin again, similar to when they left San Marcos, sticking with the theme of “rebirth.” The most beautiful moment on the album, in my opinion, comes when the London city Gospel Choir sings an outro of the same line over and over, orchestra, guitar and drums underneath: “I want more out of life than this.”
While many thought Brockhampton would be unable to bounce back from the loss of Ameer Vann, they have clearly been proven wrong. Iridescence is an album that defines all that Brockhampton has shown they are: original, raw and thoughtful. I am excited to see where the iridescence era takes the group and I would strongly recommend giving the album a listen.