Evan Ambrose and Fabian Garcia sit down to talk about BROCKHAMPTON’s sixth studio album GINGER. Cheers.
FG: When I think of BROCKHAMPTON many things come to mind. I think of their unique production, I think of their impeccable gang of rappers and singers, but one thing I don’t usually think of is how they make me feel. GINGER is an album that makes the listener feel. Starting from NO HALO all the way to VICTOR ROBERTS there’s a lot of emotion that emanates from this incredibly introspective record.
FG: Ever since iridescence I’ve been disappointed in BROCKHAMPTON. I didn’t like the album, I miss Ameer, and quite frankly I was tired of the popularity they had gained following the release of the SATURATION trilogy. In the time since the boy band has traveled a fair amount and Kevin Abstract released another solo album to what I would say received a mixed reception. BROCKHAMPTON took the world by storm in 2017 but the year is 2019 and things have changed, for better or for worse.
EA: GINGER is arguably BROCKHAMPTON’s most “mainstream” release yet. The production design can sometimes sound nearly algorithmic within a few tracks that are evidently structured and performed like modern-day radio pop and R&B songs—SUGAR is a prime example of this. With that said though, it’s undeniably the groups most mature in terms of the profound themes that it graciously brings to the table. The lyrical intricacy is there, and the album seems significantly more focused than any LP the massive group has released in all of their career. The whole affair feels like a succession of deep confessions that they’ve been dying to get out about Ameer’s parting and the rough process that occurred during the creation of iridescence.
FG: It’s clear that they went into GINGER with a clear, defined purpose. This is a nice change of pace since iridescence was an incomprehensible mishmash of broken motifs and instrumentals. Regardless of its “mainstream” appeal (whatever that means) many of their unique quirks still manage to bleed through their production. SUGAR is riddled with vocal filters which is something BROCKHAMPTON has continually experimented with since their SATURATION days. Remember this is the brainchild of 13 separate artists all putting their blood, sweat, and tears into a single record. They’re all-inclusive, anything goes. Even if that anything is a little more accessible.
EA: The tracks I’m head over heels about, I am truly and sincerely head over heels about. IF YOU PRAY RIGHT and BOY BYE are endlessly re-listenable; I can’t count how many times I’ve jammed to them aggressively and they arguably have some of the album’s finest verses. DEARLY DEPARTED might end up being the zenith of the album for two reasons: one, the instrumentals are unprecedentedly epic (taking possible influence from Pink Floyd’s earlier works) and two, every single member’s module are exemplars of pure, emotional R&B perfection.
FG: The standout tracks that come to mind for me are definitely NO HALO, BOY BYE, and I BEEN BORN AGAIN. NO HALO sets a much more somber tone for the rest of the record; something that is rare for the group considering all their openers have been high octane bangers. The feature from Deb Never was also very welcoming. On the flipside, BOY BYE needs absolutely no introduction. Dom spitting absolute gibberish in the first portion still manages to sound pleasing and Merlyn’s chorus is endlessly quotable. I BEEN BORN AGAIN kicked off the series of singles leading up to the release of the record and it was incredibly telling for what the record would eventually end up becoming. All the religious undertones they’ve been using have been really interesting and a good indicator that this record is meant to be taken more seriously.
EA: The singles I’m a bit split down the middle about, unfortunately, are some of the LP’s more publicly applicable singles and some of the LP’s fruitier hits. NO HALO, their first track is alright to me. I think it has a lot of greatness going for it; all the members plus Deb Never, who is a solid feature on the track (like Fabian mentioned), share fairly sentimental parts and I’m sure most will be won over by it. When it comes down to it though, there is nothing to the song that sounds distinctive, that makes it stand out; it emulates like a basic bittersweet pop tune. What attracts me to BROCKHAMPTON has always been how divergent they’ve sounded when compared to any other R&B artist or “boy band” out there. I have this concern with a couple other songs on GINGER to an even higher degree. SUGAR, as I mentioned before, sounds frankly uninspired in its instrumental presentation as well as its excessively auto-tuned vocals (sorry Fabian). GINGER—the single, not the album—is like if the Black Eyed Peas and Daft Punk were forcefully contracted to make a song together and both decided that no passion should be devoted to the project because it was just something that the artists were required to do. The instrumentals for LOVE ME FOR LIFE are amateur and the vocal performances have this “on-purpose” laziness to them which just did not sound engaging one bit—except for Merlyn’s part; you go, sir.
FG: In some respects, I can agree with Evan. LOVE ME FOR LIFE isn’t my favorite either. However, I genuinely feel like on most fronts BROCKHAMPTON was trying to challenge themselves on this record. All tracks take a seriously deep look at themselves and the ugliest aspects of their lives. Some of the deeper cuts do fall short in some regards but in its entirety, it’s a meticulously crafted package. VICTOR ROBERTS ties it up affectionately with a beautiful bow; much like the end of a letter, it’s a bitter goodbye to a portion of their lives that they’ll inevitably have to revisit time and time again.
EA: Yes, indeed. I whole-heartedly believe that, in the end, GINGER undoubtedly has more successors than it does duds. I BEEN BORN AGAIN has an interesting structure, and carries some pretty nifty piano key-ins and uses its artificial percussions effectively. Plus, Matt’s verse is tremendously catchy. HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU is a very haunting intro into ST. PERCY—another track that I went bonkers for considering its simplistic but practical bass line offered a bewitchment to its totality. BIG BOY starts off rough with, again, its excessive utilization of auto-tune, but the track thereon after only gets grander and grander. Victor Roberts portion on…VICTOR ROBERTS…is profoundly written and even more profoundly performed. As negative as this may sound, that track does sort of sound like a Macklemore song, but like a decent Macklemore song, like something like Wing$ from The Heist album.
FG: If I had to give any sort of serious criticism it would be DEARLY DEPARTED. The entire song is really just a harsh criticism of Ameer Vann. On paper, this should be one of the most memorable tracks from the whole record but in reality, it falls flat on its face. From awkwardly flowing verses from Kevin Abstract, to the melodramatic verse from Dom, the track collapses in on itself. Whatever, Emmanuel is out now.
EA: Wow, I see how it is.
FG: That’s a first.
FG: Mhm, sure.
FG: Anyways, GINGER has some of BROCKHAMPTON’S most unforgettable moments. It’s a calculated, well-crafted, introspective piece of work that sits comfortably among the likes of their most acclaimed pieces of work.
EA: I think it’s indeed, fair to say that GINGER outdoes BROCKHAMPTON’s previous LP iridescence. While iridescence did have plenty more “bangers” in its catalog, its unquestionable that GINGER functions as an overall album much more capably. It’s an interesting step in the right direction and one could only hope that the collection will gain them a god-like rise to fame—one that they’ve, for quite some time, deserved.
Fabian’s Verdict: Great
Evan’s Verdict: B
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“GINGER” is now available to stream on literally everything.