Illustration by Nisala Saheed

Brockhampton — Best boy-band since...

Brockhampton -- Saturation (I II &) III Album Review.

Feb 17, 2018

As we begin a new year in music, it is important to reflect back on 2017, the year of Brockhampton.
Coming out of relative obscurity, this California based outfit released a trilogy of outstanding rap albums in quick succession, aptly titled Saturation I, II and III. On their self-declared quest to saturate the music scene, they aimed to make a collection of tracks so good that it would be impossible to miss them. They certainly did not go unnoticed, with their final release Saturation III debuting at number 15 on the Billboard 200. Boasting a variety in their music that is often lost on the modern rap scene, they have managed to pull together a quirky and diverse following, ranging from rap enthusiasts to indie devotees.
While diligent music aficionados will be adamant that Brockhampton’s 2015 debut mixtape All-American Trash was already making appearances on their spotify playlists, most of us needed Brockhampton to reach saturation before realizing that these kids are making some of the best music out there.
Their whole emergence and coming together epitomizes the essence of the group.
These fourteen kids – yes, Brockhampton has fourteen members – met online on a Kanye West message board. They banded together because none of them, bar Kevin Abstract, had really managed to make an impact as a solo artist. Even as a collective they lacked the backing of the industry due to their unconventional style and provocative themes, centred around race and sexuality. Instead, they tapped into internet culture and capitalized on a strong online presence to make themselves heard.
As a group that did not fit the generic mold, Brockhampton started to churn out multi-genre offbeat music. They combined the quirky sounds each of their members brought to the table. Nobody would have envisioned success for this ridiculous band of eight rappers, four producers, an art director and a web developer. Yet it was this disregard for established norms that allowed Brockhampton to breathe new life into a genre that had been suffering from overused beats, shallow bars and subpar production. Even their insistence on being called a boy-band speaks volumes about how these guys are not content with being a niche act but want their music to change what it means to be a rap crew, rock collective or boy band.
In a lot of ways, they are a true 21st Century group; one whose youthfulness is clearly apparent from how much they draw from the past decade’s game changers, such as Kanye West, N.E.R.D and most of all Odd Future.
It is an unpopular opinion, but I think their final album, Saturation III, is where the trilogy reaches its peak. With a melodic and coherent track list, the group released their most refined and mature album to date. In addition, if you have had the misfortune of never hearing a Brockhampton track before, then I believe this LP is the most forgiving.
The album does not bother with foreplay – it throws you right in the mix with an absolute banger, BOOGIE. If you were just expecting a continuation of II, in the form of smooth beats and playful rhymes, then the loud police siren layered into a stream of erratic and panicky beats is an instant statement of fresh intent for this final project. Their chemistry is as productive as ever, with rapid changeovers and members trading bars with a frightening ferocity.
Tracks like BLEACH, HOTTIE and TEAM contrast the opening track with their melodic feel, soft instrumentals and slow hooks. Unlike its predecessors, the entire tracklist feels more like a coherent unit, not just a collection of great individual tracks. Even on the less impressive tracks, such as LIQUID and STAINS, there is rarely a dull moment. Additionally, the album features some of Brockhampton’s most polished production to date and finally appears to be narrowing down on what they want their music to sound like.
The variety that comes from eight different rappers adding their bars to a single track makes some of the songs slightly too chopped up for my liking. Moreover, while Saturation III definitely avoids the more of the same label, which is always a worry for albums released in quick succession, there are still some songs which could easily have made been part of the previous records. Nevertheless, even my criticism on the similarity of songs is simply testament to the high standard they have set with their diverse track list and wall to wall sound.
These guys are far from a finished article, but they have burst onto the scene with such energy and vigor that makes their music an absolute joy to listen to. In BOOGIE, they refer to themselves as, “the best boyband since One Direction,” but I believe they are selling themselves short. If they continue on this path, I’m sure that soon, comparisons will be made with the rap genre game changers Brockhampton used to look up to.
Worst Tracks: STAINS, TEAM
Steffen Holter is a contributing writer. Email him at
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