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Album Review: ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE by BROCKHAMPTON
Great, Based on 6 Critics
HipHopDX - 80 Based on rating 4.0/5
BROCKHAMPTON has been hinting at their “final” album since 2017’s Saturation III and their newest, ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE, is supposedly one of two that will put the exclamation point on their four-year run. As a self-described Hip Hop “boyband,” the Texan collective has erected a career on the eclecticism of its 13 members. But as de facto leader Kevin Abstract explained to The Guardian in April, he’s grown tired of the boyband label and wants the freedom to be whatever BROCKHAMPTON wants to be.
Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine is reportedly Brockhampton's penultimate album, with the final album due for release sometime later this year. The past few years have been complicated for the group after Ameer Vann's ignominious dismissal. Despite the challenges, Roadrunner is a concise and focused musical statement that explores nearly every corner of what hip-hop has become in recent decades.
The production is made memorable by its innovative use of instrumentation.
The past 18 months have been testing times for BROCKHAMPTON fans. With the band taking time out rumours of a permanent hiatus circulated, with Kevin Abstract seemingly happy to focus on solo material. 2020 brought a slew of ad hoc singles, but the releases had the feel of an athlete stretching their legs, wondering what - if anything - was still possible.
And if you're hurting, love yourself with my heart.
When Joba said in an interview that he would address his father's death by suicide on Roadrunner, a large part of me expected a few passing references, cloaked in metaphor and poetic license so as not to overly disrupt the good-time Brockhampton pop vibes. Goddamn, was I wrong on that one. His verses on "THE LIGHT" two-parter are absolute game-changers for this Texas collective: knotty labyrinths of complex pain that wind from bone-rattling details about skull fragments on ceilings and the void left by a parental figure to a gorgeous declaration of perseverance.
Something changed for Brockhampton with "Sugar." The unobtrusive and charming 2019 ballad was the group's most successful single by many metrics--their lone entry on Billboard's Hot 100 (No. 66), it was certified platinum by the RIAA and the band's first song to get an official remix, featuring Dua Lipa, no less. "Sugar" is also their most traditional song, structured to give the showcased members a fitting role.
It's been nearly two years since 2019's GINGER and we've waited longer than ever for a new album from the vehement Texas outfit. Following two exciting singles; the skin-raising "BUZZCUT" featuring Danny Brown and "Count On Me" with an addictive verse from A$AP Rocky , the group's aversion towards features seems to have turned into an affinity. Comparing ROADRUNNER to GINGER, the most obvious changes are the much larger list of names who've jumped on to help and producer Jabari Manwa step away from the laptop and into the booth.