Brockhampton star Kevin Abstract releases new solo album
Brockhampton took the hip-hop world by storm in 2017. With their release of three records in one year, all to critical acclaim, the self-proclaimed “best boy-band in the world” found themselves in a unique position. Should they release solo material, or continue on as a group?
After nearly a year’s worth of hiatus and sexual-assault controversy surrounding ex-member Ameer Van, Brockhampton released “Iridescence.” The record marked a stylistic change, bearing similarities to Kanye West’s “Yeezus.”
At the center of the whirlwind for Brockhampton was Kevin Abstract. The only member with solo material, he was expected to release an album after “Iridescence.” His answer to his fans was his newest release, “ARIZONA BABY.”
After a month of three-song EPs and cryptic social-media messages, Abstract finally released his second commercial album. The release cycle was extremely unorthodox, and left many fans confused as to why he released more than half of the album as singles before the worldwide release of the record.
“ARIZONA BABY” finds Kevin Abstract falling back on his strengths and instincts as a songwriter. Abstract’s melodies and hooks are addictive as always, with tracks like “Peach” and “Joyride” having unforgettable choruses that stuck with me for days.
The best part of this new record is the production. The song “Use Me” features a powerful gospel sample over robust drums and cricket sounds. It transitions into a frenzy of muffled guitars and sound effects, all while Kevin Abstract lays down his best verses of the album. Other tracks with fantastic production include “Joyride” and “Boyer.”
The heartfelt ballad “Baby Boy” is arguably the apex of “ARIZONA BABY.” Indie guitars create the triumphant tone for Kevin Abstract while he raps emotional bars, such as, “Every time I find myself I feel so lost / And every truth that I discover feels so false.” The tone of the track is overwhelmingly joyful, contrasting the somber lyrics of breakup and emotional turmoil.
This new album, however, also finds Abstract relying too much on his influences. Andre 3000 influence can be found everywhere on “ARIZONA BABY,” from the flows on hectic opener “Big Wheels” to the melodic rap-sung verses on “Georgia.” It’s obvious that Kevin Abstract was pulling heavily from the rappers that he loves, and his overreliance is a glaring blemish on the album.
Flaws are present far too often on “ARIZONA BABY” for it to escape criticism. Kevin Abstract features himself using auto-tune and pitched up vocals on almost every track. The filters are not needed and are a stylistic choice gone wrong. The autotune gets annoying halfway through the record, but it persists throughout the entirety of the album. The best tracks are ones that don’t overuse vocal effects, such as “Baby Boy” and “Peach.”
Kevin Abstract is undeniably the star and best songwriter of Brockhampton, and he proves it on “ARIZONA BABY.” The album is flawed in many aspects, but the enjoyable moments are worth listening to on repeat. Overall, Abstract proved more than anything that he works better as a member of Brockhampton than releasing music on his own.