REVIEW: Brockhampton’s ‘The Family’ delivers one last bittersweet album for listeners


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Brockhampton’s “The Family” offers listeners insight on the group’s journey through unexpected fame and the downfalls of controversy and inner-band conflict.

In 2018, Brockhampton released their album “Iridescence,” which propelled the underground boy band into the spotlight. From its humble beginnings in an online Kanye West forum, Brockhampton has grown to amass 5.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify and has become a luminary presence in the music industry. While the band has enjoyed its hard-earned success, it is not unfamiliar with controversy or conflict. 

“The Family” is Brockhampton’s seventh studio album and consists of 17 different songs. Despite Brockhampton having seven vocalists, “The Family” features vocals solely by band member Kevin Abstract. The album is a bittersweet parting gift to fans following news of Brockhampton’s disbandment on Jan. 14, 2022. Abstract tells the story of Brockhampton’s struggle, from the controversy surrounding ex-band member Ameer Vann, to pressures from its record label to become more mainstream. Throughout the album, Abstract reminisces in varied mental states, denoting his varied opinions on the band’s hiatus. 

The first track of the album, “Take It Back,” is an uplifting tale of the band’s rise to fame. Abstract raps over a busy background track, featuring a reverbed church choir and glimpses of a cheering audience. Abstract preaches to his fans about the band’s unanticipated success and its bittersweet downfall. The audience also learns that the band’s mutual split was a product of separate musical pursuits by its individual members. 

Abstract refers to how he and his fellow band members are better off pursuing their own careers. He promises that he will continue to develop his own career and dedicate himself to perfecting his craft. Although fans may be upset by Brockhampton’s disbandment, Abstract reassures them that he will continue to release impactful music. 

“United we stand / Divided we fall / I’m sorry homie but that don’t apply to us at all / The next chapter is everything / That’s my promise to y’all,” Abstract raps. 

While the first two tracks of “The Family” have an uplifting tone, the third song, “Gold Teeth,” shifts into a darker and angry tone. Abstract refers to the divisiveness of Brockhampton’s record deal with RCA. 

“(Expletive) we made together? Godly / Did we sign for too many (expletive) albums? Probably,” Abstract sings. 

Abstract refers to the band’s golden era of music, prior to its signing with RCA. Without the controlling presence of a record label, Brockhampton could channel its creative spirit and produce excellent music unaccompanied by conflict. Despite his belief that Brockhampton members are better off pursuing their own careers, Abstract acknowledges the band’s immense cultural influence by referencing the wannabes and copycats of Brockhampton who will never live up to the band’s greatness. 

As the album progresses, Abstract is emphasized apart from his entanglements with Brockhampton. The audience is offered a window into the mind and emotions of Abstract. The album’s 12th track, “Any Way You Want Me,” is a heartwarming piece that provides insight into his deep affection for Brockhampton’s members as well as ex-member Vann. Unlike other songs on “The Family,” Abstract chooses to sing. His voice has an effect of melting into the track’s light guitar strums and faint bass.

I know you hatе me, but what if I could change?” Abstract sings. 

Abstract references his falling out with Vann. Despite how the two have grown apart, Abstract still revisits what he could have done to fix the relationship. Abstract also faces a similar situation with current members of Brockhampton. 

You’re still my best friend even if I don’t need you / Still my best friend even when I don’t see you,” Abstract sings. 

This line cements the fact that Abstract will continue to have a deep and unstoppable love for members of Brockhampton despite the band’s hiatus. 

“The Family” is a tragically beautiful story beginning with unexpected fame and ending with the downfalls of success. While Brockhampton was able to create chart-topping masterpieces, the bonds which initially catapulted the band into success began to deteriorate. Marked by controversy and inner-band conflict, Brockhampton had fallen to the unavoidable poisons of fame. In the words of Kevin Abstract, “the show must come to an end,” and “The Family” was a bittersweet final performance.