By Ariana Mendoza
In honor of the 5th anniversary of Brockhampton’s fourth studio album, Iridescence, let us revisit and delve into this album of the 15-member boy band that once was.
Brockhampton, a hip-hop rap group founded here in San Marcos, Texas, released this 15-track project on Sept. 21, 2018. This is the first album the band released following the controversy surrounding former member Ameer Vann, who departed from the group in May of that year after sexual misconduct allegations. Also, after the signing of their multi-million-dollar record deal with RCA Records, these dramatic changes that the band goes through during this time are really shown in this album. Even their album cover art has changed since all the previous albums with Vann on the cover.
This major label debut was the beginning of a new chapter for Brockhampton. It only took a couple of weeks for them to be completed at Abbey Roads Studios in London. Iridescence was the first project of the new (now unknown) series they were creating called “The Best Years of Our Lives Trilogy”. Iridescence also introduced new sounds from them. They still had their signature electronic noises and drills, but this album includes a lot more ballads and emotions.
The album starts with the song “NEW ORLEANS” which showcases the unique sound we are familiar with from their Saturation trilogy. This song really grasps you into the project with its hype and loud instrumentation. It is very hard-hitting and strong. The song then fades and connects beautifully into the next track, “THUG LIFE,” which was a very iconic moment within the album. Halfway through the project, in the song “WEIGHT,” we see a lot more strings, creating an orchestra and more melodic verses. Being one of the largest tracks on the album, it brings a lot to the table. From the tempo changes, choir, lyrics and narration, this song really tells a story. You can just feel every emotion they want you to feel within this one track.
The common theme of this album is laid out for us. Iridescence not only sounds gloomy, but the constant feeling of self-guilt and disappointment in themselves in this “awful, sick world” is frequent in their lyricism. At the beginning of “THUG LIFE,” they portray their old lifestyles: “Them gold chains turn your neck green, bye,” paints the imagery of them wearing fake jewelry. Knowing that they come from hard upbringings, they say, “It’s a thug life; I gotta get that bag.” They continue to explain their challenging times in music careers in “WEIGHT” and in the interlude, “LOOPHOLE”. These songs explain how they miss the older, simpler times. The interlude explains how they were misled by so-called “friends.” “But isn’t it crazy that it makes you question what kind of friends you had back then because they weren’t telling you how the business was running, and they were just—”.
Brockhampton is very vulnerable; these songs illustrate the feelings of disappointment and letdowns. They never wanted this type of business. Depression is also a common theme throughout the album. “Depression still an uninvited guest.” (THUG LIFE) “Suicidal thoughts, but I won’t do it.,” “I want more out of life than this” (SAN MARCOS). The title itself shows that life was simpler back then in San Marcos, where they first got together. They recorded ALL-AMERICAN TRASH right on Post Road. “FABRIC” displays how the media only paid attention to bad and not that they made three albums with no label. Once again, they feel let down by the world.
Towards the end of the album, the last couple of songs also include the orchestral melodies. Brockhampton closes the album with the songs “SAN MARCOS,” “TONYA” and “FABRIC”. All composed and produced in high quality. This is because of the advanced equipment at their disposal at Abbey Road Studios. These last few songs are soulful. “FABRIC” being just as energic as “NEW ORLEANS,” leaving the ending out with a bang. At last, the last line of the album was “The best year of our lives,” in a sense of irony, which was one of the album names before numerous changes.
This 50-minute journey immerses you in the experience of what was going on in the band’s career and lives in 2018. From the lyrics to the melancholic rhythms, there are so many layers to unravel. Brockhampton tends to do that with their albums, sharing and creating perfect imagery of how they feel. As we take another listen to this now 5-year-old album, we can continuously get a taste of the band that is no more and relive it.
Written by: Cayla Soriano