BrockHampton delivers different flavors of sound on Saturation II

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Written by Waylon O'Day

The only boy band in existence that has more in common with Odd Future and Wu-Tang Clan than the Back Street Boys and NSYNC, BROCKHAMPTON, has been lighting the hip-hop world on fire. The recent release of SATUARATION II, the group’s second album of the year is easily one of the more ambitious projects of the year. The 20-plus man roster the collective boasts consists of artists from all the differing corners of the ever-changing rap genre. However, the eclectic nature of their music, which makes the group so unique, is also what makes them come off as a little more than unoriginal.

The music is fantastic; it’s exciting, emotional, complex, but one thing it is not is fresh. In a time where most of the hip-hop world is constantly innovating, sometimes to the genre’s detriment, BROCKHAMPTON is borrowing from everything that has been proven successful in hip-hop over the past decade or so. The group is often compared to the Odd Future collective who had a similar meteoric rise a little less than a decade ago, and the comparison is proven valid from the first song “GUMMY.” 

As soon as Ameer Van starts spitting on the track, I can think of no one but Tyler, the Creator spitting over “Rella.” It also doesn’t help that de facto leader, Kevin Abstract, sounds like Vince Staples ala Summertime ’06. “JELLO” is an exciting track, until you realize that it’s essentially “Blasé,” the keys are almost identical. These are the most egregious instances of biting on this project, which is full of not-so-subtle influences. These songs are by no means bad; it’s just hard as a fan of the genre to be okay with the almost total lack of originality.

Songs like “JUNKY,” and “SWEET,” are probably among the more original songs, and honestly, they are easily the best. The out-of-tune ukulele that is featured prominently in “JUNKY” first comes off as an abrasive version of the same sound from SpongeBob, but eventually, it grows onto to the point that it’s the central element of the track that is keeping your head bobbing. The jazzy, Moroccan-esque production featured on “SWEET” makes for one more smooth and accessible songs on the album.  “SWAMP” has an infectious hook, and a beat that is sure to make you nod your head from side to side, and some pretty decent verse from the various members of the band. Beyond that, there’s not a lot of innovation happening on this project, most of it is just recycling.

As someone who considers himself a fan of the genre, it’s hard to say that this project is bad, because it isn’t, but that same side of me sees that this album was really just a huge rehashing of 21st-century hip-hop. It’s undeniable that this is better than a lot of the music that has come out this year, but in a genre where BROCKHAMPTON’s peers are blowing up for doing something brand new, they are breaking through by following the same tried and true formula, albeit from a new perspective.

Regardless, the music is great, and if I had never lived through the OF age, maybe I wouldn’t make these somewhat unpopular statements, but to me, this is a sound that has been around for some time, it’s just been dormant as the genre has favored  mumble-rap over the sort of music BROCKHAMPTON has put out. Now that it’s becoming prevalent again, I can’t help but feel like it’s overplayed. Honestly, we won’t know what BROCKHAMPTON’s real sound until they start branching out and doing more high-profile solo work.

Stream the project below