ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE

Carmen Karsonovich, Staffer

On March 31, Kevin Abstract announced on Twitter that Brockhampton will be releasing their final two albums soon saying, “2 brockhampton albums in 2021 – these will be our last.” The first album of 2021, “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE” was released April 9 and the second album is yet to come. 

Brockhampton did release some music over the summer of 2020 under the name “Technical Difficulties” but it wasn’t widely publicized or produced as a studio album. “Roadrunner” is Brockhampton’s sixth studio album and was pretty well received by fans. The new album boasts features from Danny Brown, JPEGMAFIA, A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, SoGone SoFlexy, Charlie Wilson and Baird. I have been a fan of Brockhampton for a few years, but eventually began to outgrow their music. This “new” Brockhampton’s album was just what I needed to start listening to their music once again.  

 I feel that this album is Brockhampton’s demonstration of how they also have matured and grown as a band. In this album, Brockhampton presents the development of their sound, lyrics and cohesiveness while reminding the listener of elements from their older pieces. “Roadrunner” was prefaced by a somber album “GINGER,” full of mourning for the loss of a band member. I saw “Roadrunner” as the band’s pick-me-up and return, saying “we’re back.” 

For me, Brockhampton members Joba, Dom and Merlyn really carried this album. I always enjoy their vocals and adlibs. I think there is a song in this album for every type of Brockhampton fan whether it be upbeat vivacious rap to more soulful hip hop or R&B. A lot of the components of this album reminded me of Brockhmapton’s past albums “iridescence” and “Saturation” which are both albums I really enjoyed. Roadrunner was like their magical love child that had also grown up and matured. In my opinion, my favorites and standout songs on the album were “BUZZ CUT,” “OLD NEWS,” “THE LIGHT” and “DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY.” I don’t mention all the tracks on the album in this article so I would recommend listening to the album yourself!

The album starts off with the song “BUZZCUT” (featuring Danny Brown). I think that this song was a perfect way to jump start the album and awaken “the light” within. The sireny beat reflected Brockhamptons familiar chaos and verver. This song reminded me a lot of “iridescence” and its transition between fast paced beats and slower paced, R&B adjacent melodies. Brown was an artist that I never thought would have considered doing a collab with Brockhampton but after this song I think both of the artists fit really well together. 

“COUNT ON ME” exposed one of the sides of Brockhampton that I really enjoy. “COUNT ON ME” was one of the more pop-y songs on the album. I can definitely picture it playing on a speaker in the background while my friends and I go on summer picnics or drives. I think that this song can be widely enjoyed by a broader audience, considering it already has more than seven million streams. Along with the actual song, I really enjoyed the concept of the music video that was produced alongside it. Similarly the song “I’LL TAKE YOU ON” (featuring Charlie Wilson) gives me the same type of vibe. I have always been a fan of Brockhampton’s more melodic, euphonious, singing and these songs remind me of the type that would go viral on a social media plattform. 

One of my favorite parts of the album was definitely Jabari’s verse on “BANKROLL” (featuring A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg.) This song was reminiscent of Brockhampton’s past album, “Saturation” and once again I was pleasantly surprised by the features. I really liked Jabari’s verse because I’m always a sucker for the fast paced hum-like verses with a strong beat.

The most impactful song on the album was by far “THE LIGHT” where members Joba and Kevin deliver lyrics reflecting on their past traumas. Joba gives a vivid descriptions of the effects his father’s suicide had on him, while Kevin laments his broken connections with his family and the impact his sexuality had on his relationships. Aside from the very raw, powerful and dark lyrics I enjoyed the more eerie effects and guitar, reminding me of their past album, “GINGER.” Connecting to the theme of greater struggle within the lyrics and reminiscence of “GINGER,” “WINDOWS” (featuring SoGone SoFlexy) highlights these elements as well. Many verses describe current events such as the pandemic and offer commentary on America’s capitalist system. I always love Merlyn’s verses, as a member I think he is really lovable. His verses depict his unique vocal style and energetic personality. Not one of his verses is the same as another. 

“Roadrunner” continues commentary on American hatred in “DONT SHOOT UP THE PARTY,” referencing the increase in gun violence across America. During Kevin’s verse he makes mentions of hatred and oppression against the LGBTQ+ and POC communities, toxic masculinity and the effects of the colonization of the Americas. I really enjoyed the lyrics of this song and its analysis on gun violence and hatred within America, especially in light of recent shootings that  have become more and more normalized. “DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY” is catchy and I love its hypnotic beat. Although there were many verses that offered narratives about the members struggles, the one that stood out the most to me was in “THE LIGHT II,” which goes “And these days no license, only take the Jeep if my boyfriend is drivin’ Plus he got the kinda skin that make the police like him, Ever since I was a kid I always felt so frightened.” I appreciated its depiction of the struggles that millions of Black American’s face today. 

Since my first listen, “OLD NEWS” (feat. Baird) has been my favorite track on this album. Personally, I think this track incorporates all the best elements of Brockhampton into one song. I love Merlyn and Joba’s verses as usual. The sample on this song also stood out to me and drew me in from the beginning.

Near the end of the album, “WHEN I BALL” and “THE LIGHT PT. II” create more of an uplifting and inspirational atmosphere. The message of “WHEN I BALL” seemed to be the encapsulation of childish hope and remembrance. The instrumentals were upbeat and sanguine. The ending of this song creates a sense of a farewell to childhood and adolescence, possibly connecting to how the members feel with the realization that Brockhampton’s era will soon come to an end. “THE LIGHT PT. II,” the closing track of the album started out with whispers about the overlying theme throughout the album, of “THE LIGHT” and how it is worth waiting for. I think both of these songs can be seen as a reflection of Brockhampton’s journey as a band and each of their growth and progression as individuals. The instrumentals and singing throughout both these tracks were much more peaceful. I thought this could demonstrate how the band had come to terms with, and accepted their losses and future. Overall the ending of the album communicated a message about how the future is worth the wait, that the past doesn’t define you. 

After listening to this album a few times over I can definitely say I wasn’t disappointed. I would surely recommend listening and would overall rate it a 8.5/10. In “Roadrunner,” Brockhampton displayed all of the elements that I love hearing in their music. Additionally, I feel that this album was an accumulation of matured ideas from their past, coming full circle. Roadrunner showed the growth of Brockhampton as a whole and its members and I’m looking forward to hearing Brockhampton’s last studio album as the year continues.