BROCKHAMPTON Finds The Light on “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE”

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America’s new boy band is transforming the idea of what boy bands are could be

Evan Walker, Social Media Editor

America’s modern boy band BROCKHAMPTON is back with their most impressive project yet. “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE” is over just 13 tracks and taps into the group’s struggles with society’s standards. 

The album puts member JOBA at the center, putting his own mental trauma on display whenever possible. 

Therein, with this newfound success, BROCKHAMPTON seems to be on everyone’s radar, including their high-profile guest features like A$AP MOB, Charlie Wilson, JPEGMAFIA, among others. 

 

Starting with the eccentric “BUZZCUT” featuring Detroit rap star Danny Brown opens the album with Kevin Abstract obviously drawing an Andre 3000 influence on his verse, and Danny Brown giving one of his best verses in years. This song effectively reintroduces to the world the new BROCKHAMPTON. 

 

However, this is where we start to see the real bipolar aspectsts of the album, as the next track “CHAIN ON” featuring underground rap superstar JPEGMAFIA is completely the opposite of the previous song. The beat is extremely lowkey and allows Dom McLennon and JPEGMAFIA to really speak their mind.

The real meat and potatoes of the album and the most mainstream soon-to-be hits naturally fall on “COUNT ON ME” featuring an uncredited A$AP Rocky verse, and a Shawn Mendes and Ryan Beatty chorus, and the boisterous “BANKROLL” featuring A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg. 

Although “COUNT ON ME” might end up having the most mainstream success, “BANKROLL” should not be overlooked. A$AP Ferg gave one of his most passionate and entertaining verses since his 2013 project “TRAP LORD.” 

The mood shifts yet again on the heavy “THE LIGHT” where we see Kevin Abstract talk about his fractured relationships and going over his childhood life as a gay black man from Corpus Christi. Whereas JOBA essentially breaks down over the guitar-heavy track. For those who are not big followers of the group, JOBA’s father committed suicide in September of last year, and JOBA admittedly was not that strong before his father’s untimely passing, so we really see JOBA go further into his mental collapse. 

JOBA’s verse itself might be one of the most triggering and deeply troubling rap verses I’ve heard all year, with graphic depictions of the scene of his father’s death and him seemingly reaching a breaking point midway through his verse. “Think I will always be haunted by the image of a bloody backdrop; felt your presence in the room, heard my mother squealin’ Master of disguises, ash to ash, dust to dust, voids behind my eyelids, blacking out, bleedin out.”

But JOBA doesn’t let up from this point forward after he catches himself. And it shows even more on later songs. However, before we get to the gems that are tracks seven and eight, the posse cut that is track six “WINDOWS ” featuring SoGone SoFlexy is an absolute gold mine of lines and verses. Everybody shares the mic equally and the energy put out on the track is superb. And it rightfully serves as one of the best songs on the album. 

“I’LL TAKE YOU ON” featuring Charlie Wilson and “OLD NEWS” featuring Baird showcase the more pop-friendly side of the group and JOBA yet again steals the show on “OLD NEWS”.

Unfortunately, the mood sours when one gets to “WHAT’S THE OCCASION?” Though this track is thematically on par with the rest of the album, it is definitely a track that could have stayed off the album due to it not really adding much to the album as a whole. Whereas the bright and sunny Chad Hugo of “The Neptunes” produced and Rex Orange County written “WHEN I BALL” does the exact opposite of the aforementioned track, thematically straying away from the rest of the album, but still being a good track.

Finally, the last three-song stretch of the album manages to tie everything back together. “DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY” is a modern G-Funk banger that talks a lot about America’s societal problems from gun violence, to xenophobia, to racism, while still making it danceable. 

Then the gloom sets in on “DEAR LORD.” On the surface, this is a simple prayer/interlude, but as one continues to listen, it becomes discernible that this prayer is really a prayer for JOBA and all he is going through. Which crescendos in the final track, “THE LIGHT PT. II,” where the audience yet again is left with Kevin Abstract and JOBA talking about the world and the problems they face. 

Kevin gives some great social commentary bars during his first verse and JOBA almost breaks down yet again in the middle of his final verse. JOBA gets to the point where he blatantly contemplates what death is like: “what happens when you die? Does it fade black?” JOBA in true star fashion manages to push that gut-wrenching feeling that he has out onto his audience and truly make them empathize with his pain. This ultimately leaves the audience with the double entendre of what “the light” really is.

Admittedly going into this project I expected it to be average at best, because since Ameer Vann’s departure from the group, as a collective BROCKHAMPTON has not been the same. However, after listening through from start to finish, I solemnly think this may be their best project yet. It’s a very heavy and hard listen on certain songs, but it’s ultimately very well written and it leaves you questioning. It’s one of those rare rap albums that come along every now and then that actually makes me wonder if a movie could be written out of this because of how well this project was made.