GINGER is the fifth studio album from rap group, or self proclaimed boy band, BROCKHAMPTON. This is their second album following the departure of a once prominent and key member of the group, Ameer Vann. Mr. Vann was an essential part of the group’s first three albums, SATURATION I, II, and III. Some may have even called him the face of the group, despite not being the group‘s leader, due to the fact that he was on the cover of three albums, and could be regarded as the group’s most talented rapper. This departure, which occurred months after a wildly successful 2017, took all of the wind out of BROCKHAMPTON’s sails, causing them to shelf the group’s upcoming, highly anticipated album PUPPY. The snippets that the group previewed prior to the release of this album and prior to the announcement of Ameer Vann’s departure still sound like some of the group’s best work to date, but will never see the light of day. This was apparent in the group’s 2018 album, iridescence, as it was less cohesive, and more scattered than any three of the SATURATION albums. Not a bad album by any means, but a side step in BROCKHAMPTON’s career trajectory that I think the group as well as the fans are happy to leave in the past. Seeing them perform on the ‘I’ll Be There’ tour, their US tour for iridescence, compared to the ‘Love Your Parents’ tour and at Governor’s Ball in 2019, it was clear to see that they were distressed during this time period, and had an immense amount of pressure to keep releasing music as well as perform through their pain. Along with having a lasting impact on the rest of the group, the removal of this member has also created a divide in the BROCKHAMPTON fan base. I won’t speak too much on it here, but this decision by the group was, and still remains to be, a very divisive choice.
Now, you may be asking, why did you spend so much time talking about the group’s past, since this album was released in August of 2019, a year and a few months after the departure of Ameer Vann? Well, if you’ve listened to GINGER, it’s apparent that this departure is still having an impact on the members of the group. I’m not saying this is a negative, I actually see it as more of a positive for this album. If iridescence was a quick reaction to the departure of Ameer, GINGER was a drawn out, premeditated response to it. Where iridescence was scattered, GINGER is cohesive. Where iridescence was aggressive, GINGER is emotional. This album showed a side to the group that I don’t think I ever expected to see. Another appropriate title this album could’ve had is MATURATION, to show the contrast between BROCKHAMPTON in 2017 and BROCKHAMPTON today (well, in 2019.)
SUGAR, the group’s first real smash hit, was initially planned to be the lead single off of GINGER and would’ve been a great choice, but this idea was changed when the song leaked back in June, two months before the album’s release. This led the group to choose I BEEN BORN AGAIN, a good, but not great, song as the album’s lead single. It wasn’t a typical choice, as the three SATURATION albums all had some of their best bangers as lead singles. Again, not a bad song by any means, but a strange choice for lead single as it didn’t really have the bouncy production or catchy hooks that BROCKHAMPTON are known and loved for. The second single from GINGER, IF YOU PRAY RIGHT, is a total banger, with off the wall production and great, animated verses from each member. Dom spitting his ass off, sticky hook from Kevin, simple but effective mini-verses from Matt and Merlyn, and Joba closing it out with one of his wackiest verses ever. I’d say this is a clear highlight from the album, and could go head-to-head with a lot of BROCKHAMPTON’s SATURATION era bangers. The next single, BOY BYE, is another great track. Bouncy beat, insane verses from Dom, Matt, and Kevin, and a great performance of the hook from both Matt and Merlyn. Despite how much I love this track, I always end up skipping it after the chorus. I think this song shows a clear difference in BROCKHAMPTON pre-departure and post-departure. I try not to envision Ameer as a part of the group anymore, but it’s hard not to when this beat would’ve complimented him so well, and the extremely underwhelming verse from Bearface makes me wish Ameer was on it. The fourth and final single from the album, NO HALO, is a guitar-driven, emotional slow burner with a guest hook from Deb Never. Probably my least favorite of the four singles, just not a song I find myself going back to that much. I don’t dislike it, I just don’t love it. The verses are emotionally charged, but something about the production and some of the lyrics just seem corny or cringeworthy to me in a way that I can’t exactly put my finger on.
Now that we’ve gotten through the singles, let’s get to the whole album. Standing at 12 tracks and 44 minutes long, GINGER is BROCKHAMPTON’s most concise and to the point album yet. I already spoke on the opening track, NO HALO, but let me add that I don’t think this was the best choice for the album opener. Something I love album all other BROCKHAMPTON albums is that their opening tracks ALWAYS. ABSOLUTELY. BANG. I think GINGER would’ve benefited from the same thing, opening up with a banger instead. The second song, SUGAR, which I mentioned before, is an exceptional track, with an extremely catchy hook done by unofficial member and BROCKHAMPTON affiliate, Ryan Beatty. Fans of the group are most likely already familiar with him, as he also performs the hook on the group’s second biggest song, BLEACH. Ever since I heard this hook in the leak, it was just stuck in my head and I couldn’t wait for this song to get an official release. The verses are great, with Dom doing insane auto tune tricks, and Matt sounding smooth as ever. I also think they utilized Bearface perfectly on this track, using his great voice instead of forcing a verse from a below average rapper when it just wasn’t necessary (looking at you, BOY BYE.) Kevin’s bridge is also extremely catchy and beautiful, as it sounds like he’s doing his best Justin Bieber impression (but better than anything off of Changes, sorry, Justin.) Spoke about BOY BYE before, but again, let me just say that I love the first half and the hook of this song, but Bearface and Joba just underperform. HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU is a 90 second song featuring the UK’s slowthai. The instrumental is a deconstructed version of IF YOU PRAY RIGHT, and is a pretty good addition to the album, despite only being a minute and a half long detour, similar to songs like 2PAC, TEETH, JESUS, and LIQUID from the SATURATION albums. One thing I can’t wrap my mind around though, why was ST. PERCY put between this and IF YOU PRAY RIGHT? It just doesn’t make sense, and in my opinion, ST. PERCY should’ve been the opener. ST. PERCY starts off with a minimalist beat, with Kevin using a subdued voice and flow, that we saw him start experimenting with on his ARIZONA BABY album. While I do think his use of this flow got old quickly, I love it on this song. Following his verse, there’s a sample from D-Flexx’s ‘Only God Knows’ that I do wish was utilized more, but was still a nice addition to the track. Following this up, Matt and Dom have absolutely fire verses, but again, I’m let down by Bearface’s performance. He’s just trying too hard to have this aggression that isn’t there, and uhhh, the Michael Vick line? It’s a no from me man. Spoke on IF YOU PRAY RIGHT before, but again I just wanna say WHY WAS ST. PERCY PUT BETWEEN THIS AND HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU? Heaven belongs to you, if you pray right. It just makes sense???
DEARLY DEPARTED. Probably the boys’ most emotionally charged and heavy songs ever, speaking directly about the departure of Ameer Vann. I won’t speak too much on the lyrical content, but I’ll just say that I like the sound of this track, verses and hook are good, I just don’t listen to this song a lot due to the emotion and pain behind it. Spoke on I BEEN BORN AGAIN before, good track, but weird choice for lead single. The title track is pretty easily my least favorite song here, I just don’t really like the sound, the verses are weird, I just could’ve done without it. I think GINGER would’ve benefited A LOT from keeping this song off of the album, and replacing it with another banger, maybe RICH BOY (https://youtu.be/ztW9C8nzduk) which was previewed on Episode 3 of GINGER RADIO, or CAPRI-SUN (https://youtu.be/0g9JVDGeiWs) which was previewed in a tour promo video. The following track, BIG BOY, has always stuck with me for some reason. I really like the pitched-down effect on Kevin’s voice on the hook, and the auto tune he uses during his verse. Joba also has a very good verse in my opinion, with great, hard hitting lyrics. LOVE ME FOR LIFE is a good song, with an interesting and pretty unique instrumental. I do think Kevin and Joba’s verses both could’ve been cut down a bit and have another member added to the front half of the track, but Merlyn’s KILLER outro verse makes up for it in my opinion. VICTOR ROBERTS, the closing track, is another emotionally charged track, which features a verse from a man named Victor Roberts, and this is actually his debut verse. He tells his extremely hard-hitting life story, which is followed by a great chorus sung by Ryan Beatty, and a pretty good hook done by Bearface. In my opinion, this was a great choice as a closer for the album. “Thank God that I’m built for the distance.”
Track list ranking
SUGAR > BOY BYE > IF YOU PRAY RIGHT > ST. PERCY > BIG BOY > I BEEN BORN AGAIN > DEARLY DEPARTED > VICTOR ROBERTS > HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU > LOVE ME FOR LIFE > NO HALO > GINGER