Courtesy of http://www.brooklynvegan.com
It has been a busy and eventful year for Kevin Abstract. After the success of his rap group Brockhampton’s “Saturation” trilogy, Abstract and his group increased in popularity, as fans anticipate another record. Brockhampton faced dark times, mainly accusations of sexual abuse towards Ameer Vann, one of the founding members, which resulted in Vann’s removal, a tour cancellation and hiatus so that they could “regroup.”
Fortunately, Brockhampton made a huge comeback with the release of new singles and a new full length album, “Iridescence.” Since then, Brockhampton has been on a roll, raising questions about Abstract’s solo projects. Through the culmination of a traumatic past, Abstract’s third solo album displays his growth as an artist.
THE VERY BEST OF ABSTRACT
“ARIZONA BABY” showcases Abstract’s best qualities that listeners have only seen in snippets throughout his Brockhampton career. To start off, his ability to create catchy hooks is apparent in songs “Georgia” and “Mississippi,” which both feature standout choruses from Abstract alone. The transition from “Big Wheels” to “Joyride” expresses the album’s smooth pace, setting listeners up for its impressively fluid track list.
Longtime Brockhampton producer Romil Hemnani teams up with Bleachers frontman and former Fun. member Jack Antonoff to create a unique blend of hard-hitting rap and emotional singer-songwriter sounds. These collaborations bolster Abstract’s lyrics, which are the most emotionally potent of his entire career.
In “Corpus Christi,” Abstract reaches his peak of vulnerability, expressing his emotions in a spoken word-like delivery.
“I wonder if Ameer think about me, or what he think about me,” Abstract sings in the song’s chorus.
Most of the tracks revolve around Abstract’s memories with friends, the struggles of being a gay black man in America and a significant romantic relationship, where he was in love with someone who did not reciprocate his feelings. Standouts “Peach” and “Baby Boy” present Abstract’s collaborations with Dominic Fike and Ryan Beatty along with Brockhampton members Joba and Bearface. Through Abstract’s collaborations, he crafts simple refrains that reflect his inner thoughts. “Peach,” which is about longing for a serious relationship with someone who is uninterested, perfectly mirrors Abstract’s emotions throughout the song.
Joba and Bearface work together to sing the refrain “It’s all peaches and cream / if you left your love, I’ll be right” while Dominic Fike sings the best chorus on the album, singing “I’ll be your baby doll and your bodyguard if you tell me to.”
SPORADIC LYRICISM AND OTHER PROBLEMS
Unfortunately, this dramatic, enticing song is followed by the worst track, “American Problem.” Lacking emotional lyricism, infectious flows and impressive production, “American Problem” disrupts the album’s flow, which disappoints. Instead, the song includes annoying verse delivery, an awkward beat switch-up, distasteful production and unemotional lyrics. Abstract’s cacophonous lyrics are also observed in “Joyride” and “Crumble,” where the lyrics in one verse can be both cryptic and sporadic, to the point where a few lines of lyrics have no relation whatsoever.
Listeners can get annoyed as they try to understand what Abstract wants to say, especially when other tracks display much simpler messages. Careful listeners can also nitpick the unnecessary third verse in “Joyride,” the annoying cricket sounds in “Use Me” and “Boyer” being an energetic conclusion to an album that is very much otherwise.
AN EMOTIONAL REFLECTION ON LIFE
Nonetheless, Kevin Abstract creates an album full of emotionally relatable tracks. His nostalgic view of his adolescent years is bittersweet, and his longing for a lover that does not feel the same is tragic. This sentiment is further exemplified by tracks like “Mississippi” and “Peach,” perfectly capturing Abstract’s exact emotions.
Overall, the painfully emotional vulnerability showcased by Abstract is something that very few artists can do nowadays. Listeners feel happy and nostalgic with “Georgia” and “Peach” but heartbroken with “Corpus Christi” and “Crumble.” Through “ARIZONA BABY,” Kevin Abstract proves himself as both a valuable addition to Brockhampton and an important solo voice in today’s hip-hop landscape.