BROCKHAMPTON – The Family

A fantastic, if bittersweet, farewell...

The best boyband since One Direction have called it quits. Following a bombshell announcement earlier this year, BROCKHAMPTON cancelled all upcoming live dates, bar Coachella and Brixton, marking the end of one of the best hip-hop groups of this century. Boasting one of the most consistent and impressive rap catalogues in recent memory BROCKHAMPTON cemented themselves as one of the most innovative, hard-working and influential groups of the 2010s. 2017’s ‘SATURATION’ trilogy fired the band into the stratosphere. Three albums in one year of incredible quality laid the foundation for more music, collaborations, shows, you name it. Not bad for a boyband formed via an internet forum. 

Though in bittersweet fashion, we were promised one final record from the boyband – which has finally arrived, which feels just as poignant as the initial announcement itself. 

‘The Family’ is the final chapter in the book of BROCKHAMPTON – and it is a perfect ending. Leader Kevin Abstract takes most of the reigns on this project, blasting through some of his best verses to date, especially on soul laden, big drums opener ‘Take It Back’. Most of the tracks on the project are short and sweet, with plenty of sub-three-minute runtimes. ‘RZA’ powers forward with an instrumental soaked in a phaser, with Abstract bluntly talking about the end of an era: “My momma asking me, Ian why don’t you keep the band together?” It’s a question on the lips of the entire BH fanbase, and seemingly the band themselves.  

BROCKHAMPTON – The Family

‘Basement’ is a track designed for the club; with its wobbly sub basses it wouldn’t feel out of place at a Boiler Room set. On the contrary, ‘Any Way You Want Me’ is a 60s-inspired track, heavy drums and bass traded for gentle guitars and a lo-fi live drum kit. Production across ‘The Family’ is definitely a step away from the styles shown on all previous releases. Pitched-up soul samples and dusty soul samples reign supreme, effects and ad-libs aplenty, though there are moments of complete juxtaposition. There are also many clean transitions between tracks, their final chapter being a seamless front-to-back listen.  

It is a peculiar sensation reaching the end of the last BH album, especially as a long-time fan who has become accustomed to their prolificity. Closing track ‘Brockhampton’ is a reflective moment, with Abstract showing his rawest feelings yet. He discusses how his own behaviours affected his relationships with the rest of the band, namedropping each member in turn to describe his proudness and love for them, and how he sees their own prospective careers. “Joba, you’re the most musical motherfucker. Matt, I know you’re a perfectionist but now you’re free. Dom, ain’t nobody fucking with you lyrically. Merlyn, nobody can match this n*****’s energy.” It sits atop of a cinematic string score, feeling like an old movie score to accompany end credits.

‘The Family’ is the perfect BROCKHAMPTON album. It has a flawless balance on energy fuelled moments with more melancholic ones, and the departure in sound from previous efforts makes for a compelling full listen. It is a fitting end to one of the most hip-hop impressive catalogues of the last decade, and while it’s sad to them go, they couldn’t have ended on a higher note. As we hear on the last track:

“After all that we’ve been through, breaking up is hard to do / I hate to leave you behind.”

9/10

Words: James Mellen

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