‘Ginger’ explores struggles, triumphs of Brockhampton members’ lives

“Ginger,” the latest record by Brockhampton, offers an exquisite exploration in and around the struggles and triumphs of the member’s lives and their thoughts on whatever comes after. The 13-member boyband has been making waves in hip-hop since their “Saturation” trilogy of albums in 2017. Self-described as pop music, the group features a mix of vocalists, producers, visual artists, and band manager Jon Nunes. Founded by Kevin Abstract, who happens to have the most successful solo career, the group hails partially from San Marcos, Texas. Meanwhile, the rest famously met online in a Kanye West fan forum that Kevin Abstract posted on looking for bandmates in 2010. The last few years have been full of success and drastic changes for the group, with them all living in the same house for the duration of the Saturation Trilogy in 2017, the public dismissal of former member Ameer Vann due to sexual misconduct allegations in May 2018 and the release of their first No. 1 album in September 2018 with “Iridescence.” On “Ginger,” the group steps further into the spotlight unapologetically themselves lyrically, while at the same time exploring entirely new sonic constructs. 

The album begins with “No Halo,” which immediately sets the sonic tone with an uncanny, guitar-driven chorus mixed with the different flows of Brockhampton. The entire album features eerie undertones that match well with the lyrical content. As a listener, the album takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, whether its confessions of mental illness behind the headbanging beats throughout “Boy Bye” or the heart-wrenching ending of “Love Me For Life,” which features member Bearface stealing the show with his vocal talents. “Ginger” is diverse, yet consistently eerie sonically. 

The inclusion and diversity of Brockhampton’s sound and of its members have sparked waves in hip-hop and pop. Although there have been many boybands and hip-hop collectives before them, no one has done it quite like Brockhampton. The bravery to be themselves in a society and industry that does not always accept those who are perceived as different has created a loyal fan base that connects to each member of the group differently. “Ginger” has the group nearly perfecting the anti formula of exceptionally diverse yet coherent sounds that got them to this point. 

Lyrically, the group is ruminating on ideas like politics and mental health, such as on the track “Heaven Belongs to You,” where member Merlyn Wood raps, “There’s a war in my head like the Middle East.” The constant openness and questioning of traditional ideals have led the group into deep and meaningful territory lyrically. Therefore, the themes of spirituality, religion and the afterlife are also present throughout, with almost every track mentioning something relating to a higher power. The album even ends with the lyrics, “thank god for me” off the song “Victor Roberts.” The track, which is performed by an old friend of group member Dom McLennon, Victor Roberts, is the story of how Victor’s parents got arrested in front of him when he was a child. The group then paired that story with the soulful crooning of Brockhampton members Joba and Bearface to create a melancholy and questioning ending to the album. 

The storytelling powers that Brockhampton possesses originate in the closeness and honesty that all the members share. Although all the members of the band no longer live in the same house together in California, the group would do what they called “Friday Therapy” sessions in the early stages of creating “Ginger.” Because of these sessions, Kevin Abstract said the group learned a lot more about each other personally and because of that are able to focus their creative energies better and more easily write their specific experiences into coherent songs. This is on full display in songs like “Dearly Departed.” Here a daunting chorus sung by member Joba is intertwined with Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion and Dom McLennon’s stories about their experiences in Texas, possibly even referencing former member Ameer Vann. Whatever the meanings behind the deeply intriguing stories of  “Ginger,” the group is more coherent than ever and seems equipped for whatever their future holds.