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Album Review: ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE by BROCKHAMPTON

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BROCKHAMPTON is a hip hop boy band from San Marcos, Texas. They first formed under the name AliveSinceForever but changed their name to BROCKHAMPTON in 2014. Their huge breakthrough came with the SATURATION trilogy which they released in a span of 7 months. Even with some bumps in the road, BROCKHAMPTON just released their sixth studio album titled ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE.
 
The first track off the album is BUZZCUT. While I was a bit skeptical about this new album, this single definitely piqued my interest back into BROCKHAMPTON. The track opens up with some wavy horn-like sound. While Kevin really brings the energy to the track, you can't deny that Danny Brown just brings that more energy and intensity to this track. When you look into the lyrics, there's a whole bunch of things to unpack, but just in the first verse, Kevin talks about what it's like to be black in America, his success (and shortcomings) with BROCKHAMPTON, as well as Ameer.

CHAIN ON definitely rolls it back to a more laid back track. Just based on the beat, it sounds like something Aminé would be on. However, the featured artist for this track is JPEGMAFIA, which seems to be a perfect fit as well. This track was actually made in a day and a lot of the themes focus around the death of George Floyd since it was recorded in late May of 2020. The track also ends with a quick sample of C.R.E.A.M. by Wu-Tang Clan.
 
COUNT ON ME brings out the boyband sound from BROCKHAMPTON with their smooth and soft vocals during the chorus. This track is also loaded with different features which just adds a plethora of opportunities to take advantage of. However, this doesn't really seem to pique my interest, especially with how rushed this track feels. While it is only two and a half minutes in length, I didn't really realize how quick the chorus felt until the second time the chorus went by.

BANKROLL has been a long time in the making, but fans are definitely excited to hear this track, especially since they recruited the help of A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg. We finally get to hear the track with the light and ominous backing sound. After hearing Merlyn mixed with Ferg's and Rocky's verses, I realized that Merlyn can really morph his voice to sound so similar to theirs which makes him the perfect member for those verses.

THE LIGHT is a deep and personal track for Joba as well as Kevin. Besides the guitar focused track, Joba opens up the track talking about the suicide of his father while he was still tackling his own issues with mental health. While the track is titled THE LIGHT, Joba just can't catch a glimpse of happiness. Kevin also talks about his struggles with mental health and also talks about how it's sometimes difficult to see his true identity when his family might not accept him.

We finally get to the longest track on the album, WINDOWS, which seems to feature all of the members from the group. The beat itself doesn't really change much. We have a consistent percussion beat for most of the track, but we have slight changes in instruments from member to member. While every member raps about something different, the most shocking one is probably bearface since we never really get to hear much from him.

After the previous track with all of the members, we slow it back down with another boyband like track, I'LL TAKE YOU ON. We also get a decent feature from Charlie Wilson, but he's mostly just a backing feature for this track. Not really feeling this track, mostly since the beat is kind of generic and has your usual guitar and backing beat. The only upside is that it has the 'rewind' sound that BLEACH and some other SATURATION III tracks have.

OLD NEWS is another boyband-like and R&B type track from the group with the group singing during the chorus. This is definitely Jabari's track since he's able to put so much emotion into the chorus It's also another track that features the 'rewind' sound from the SATURATION III days. This one definitely sounds much better than the previous track and is catchier. It's definitely one of my favorites after listening to this a few times. 

WHAT'S THE OCCASION? is definitely moving away from the grain of what the boys normally put out there. However, I just can't seem to get into this track no matter how many times I listen to it. While the track does start off quiet with a simple guitar line, we do have a louder electric guitar that comes in periodically. The outro does a complete 180 when everything cuts out and we have a lighter piano part come in. We do have electric guitars in here, but they're much brighter and glossier than what we heard at the beginning of the track.

The beautiful piano and string section from Chad Hugo on WHEN I BALL makes this another personal favorite of mine. It also sort of reminds me of something that Kanye West would rap to, so I'm assuming their Kanye West inspiration is coming in on this one. Joba's vocals are a bit weird the way they changed his voice, so if there was anything that they could improve, is just using his regular voice or replace it with someone else.

DON'T SHOOT UP THE PARTY seems to be a favorite of many fans and definitely one of the bangers from their new album. We have several different electronic-like instruments, such as the synth and bass parts. Just within the first verse and chorus, Kevin talks about a lot of different issues that have been going on lately, including gun violence, racism, and homophobia. Also, Joba comes in with a verse which could be a reference to the suicide of his father.

DEAR LORD is a quick track from bearface that seems to be a prayer towards Joba with everything he's been going through lately. This is probably the perfect placement of the track in the album with what's to come on the next track with Joba. While this isn't a favorite of mine, I am seeing some Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) influence on this track, but I haven't been able to dig through the credits to see if he was featured on this one.

The final track we have on the album is THE LIGHT PT. II which is the second part of the track from earlier. We definitely see some of the things that were expressed on the first part of this track. Joba keeps on talking about "The light is worth the wait" which seems like he was trying to help his father with depression. Kevin also continues to talk about the relationship with his mother and how they're still trying to rebuild their relationship. The track ends with Joba's verse as well as the chorus, and the last line being "Please don't do it."

I was surprised with this album since I definitely fell of the BROCKHAMPTON bandwagon after GINGER. I'm glad that they're making music that they're happy with and to see the different styles and features on here.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Favorite Tracks: BUZZCUT, BANKROLL, OLD NEWS, WHEN I BALL, DON'T SHOOT UP THE PARTY, THE LIGHT PT. II
 
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