Brockhampton, the rap collective born out of San Marcos, Texas in 2010, released its final two albums on Nov. 17 and 18. After a groundbreaking career stemming from the Saturation trilogy released in 2017, the group announced its upcoming indefinite hiatus in January of this year. Through the years, Brockhampton has faced countless controversies and challenges, from assault allegations to record label feuds, which might be expected from a group of 13. Despite this, their final album, The Family, was announced on Oct. 27. They also released a surprise second album, TM.
The Family is an obvious departure from the classic Brockhampton sound and content. The songs on the album are much less produced than past projects, allowing insight into the gritty details of the self-dubbed “boyband”’s ups and downs. The album is an homage both to the career Brockhampton has built over the past decade and to hip-hop in general. Although it was released as a Brockhampton album, Kevin Abstract and bearface are two of the only members of the band involved in the creation and performance of the album, with Abstract on writing and bearface on production. The song “RZA” shouts out the Wu-Tang Clan member, and Abstract reflects on his feelings of not being a strong enough frontman of the group and failing to “keep the band together.” Standout track “All That” sees Abstract reminiscing on the early days of the group, when all they wanted was to be seen, regretting the fights the group had and the turmoil they went through. The track, like some others, also alludes to their record label, RCA, and the deal they had, which caused the group considerable burnout.
Each song evokes an emotional response from the listener, especially from those who have been there throughout the rise and fall of Brockhampton. The song “Basement” directly calls out invasive fans and their involvement in the group’s drama, with lyrics like “You definitely not in my family” and “Yeah, I love my fans, but they’d kill me if they can.” The emotional, raw track “37th” features Abstract explaining how the group grew apart and changed over time and how, despite this, he’s thankful for everything they have been through. Throughout the album, Abstract makes references to disgraced ex-member Ameer Vann, who was outed for his abuse in past relationships in 2018. Many believe that Vann being kicked out of the group after the success of the Saturation trilogy was the beginning of the end for Brockhampton, even though the group went on to release six more albums after his departure.
Most songs on The Family are relatively short — though there are 17 songs, the album clocks in at 35 minutes. The closing song, “Brockhampton,” is the only song that runs over four minutes. Arguably the most heart-wrenching and honest track on the entire album, the final track is the last goodbye from Abstract to Brockhampton, as a group, as individuals and as an era in their lives. Abstract shouts out every main member of Brockhampton: Joba, Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, Dom McLennon, Jabari Manwarring and bearface. While the track details both highs and lows, it ends on a positive note when Abstract says, “The next chapter is everything that we said it would be, this next chapter is everything that we want it to be, the show’s over, get out your seats.”
The second surprise album, TM, was released the day after The Family and sounds more like a traditional Brockhampton album. Unlike The Family, TM features all the members of the group on the tracks. The production has the loud, grainy sound that has become a trademark of the band. Where The Family is a farewell from Abstract to Brockhampton, TM gives the fans one final classic Brockhampton album before the band members go their separate ways.
The balance of the two albums is surprisingly effective. One allows fans to mourn the loss of the group they’ve grown to love so dearly, and the other exists as one final banger to put on repeat for the foreseeable future. In the words of Abstract himself, “This is the ending we all envisioned, right?”
Daily Arts Writer Gigi Ciulla can be reached at email@example.com