On Thursday Nov. 18, Texas-based hip-hop “boy band” BROCKHAMPTON released what they had publicized as their “final album” called “The Family.” The following day, the band announced that they would be releasing one last album titled “TM” that night.
BROCKHAMPTON consists of seven performers: Kevin Abstract, Dom McLennon, Matt Champion, Joba, Merlyn Wood, Bearface, and new addition, Jabari Manwa. The band announced their breakup in January 2022 but started the rollout for their “final album” in the latter half of the year, projected to be released in late 2022.
BROCKHAMPTON – THE FAMILY
— BROCKHAMPTON (@brckhmptn) October 27, 2022
On “The Family,” the only artist performing is the leader of the band, Kevin Abstract. He has an extensive solo discography, so he is no stranger to carrying an album on his own. The album has 18 tracks and only lasts 35 minutes.
The production throughout “The Family” is inspired by classic sped-up soul samples – akin to early Kanye West records – along with a southern edge and jazz elements. There’s clear inspiration from Houston, Texas producer DJ Screw and his signature “chopped and screwed” style with production from Bearface, Boylife, and Nick Verez.
Kevin Abstract’s lyrical content is the most personal he has yet put to record, which is no small feat considering he is not one to shy away from personal topics. Many tracks on the album talk about the band’s breakup and how it affected him and others around him.
“My momma ask me, ‘Ian, why don’t you keep the band together,’” Abstract raps on “RZA.” Watch the music video below.
Despite feeling a little off due to the absence of most of the group, “The Family” is still a strong outing from BROCKHAMPTON and would have been a sufficient sendoff to the band. But as it turns out, the boys had more to deliver.
“TM” came the night after “The Family” and features the band as a whole. There are many producers, including original behind-the-scenes members of BROCKHAMPTON, Romil Hemnani, Kiko Merley and more.
In 2017 BROCKHAMPTON gained acclaim for their “Saturation Trilogy,” three albums the band released within a six-month span. Each album was consistently high-quality from start to finish, which makes the prospect of two good albums in a row seem achievable, and the band matches those expectations.
the band is on this album and it’s out in 5 minutes. TM BROCKHAMPTON
— ian (@kevinabstract) November 18, 2022
Hearing the group together again is exciting, especially when the quality of the music is so consistent. While some artists – primarily Kevin Abstract and Matt Champion – take up more runtime, other members like Merlyn Wood and Bearface take more of a supporting role.
The production is more grandiose on “TM” than its predecessor and leans more towards r&b and pop music than traditional hip hop, with songs like “NEW SHOES” and “MAN ON THE MOON” having radio-ready, earworm choruses. The jazz influence shown on “The Family” does not go away on “TM,” as the song “CRUCIFY ME” has a chaotic outro filled with jazz piano chords, layered synths, and chaotic drums that makes for one of the most exciting moments on either record.
— BROCKHAMPTON (@brckhmptn) November 18, 2022
BROCKHAMPTON has always strived on chemistry and charisma which shines on “TM.” Matt Champion especially has a swagger in his voice that makes his verses intoxicating. In addition, Joba’s verses and harmonies are beautiful, and all the rappers are giving heartfelt performances verse to verse.
While “The Family” is more consistent sonically and lyrically, the chemistry between each performer and the ethereal soundscape on “TM” makes for an equally exciting listening experience. It is unfortunate to know that this is the last release from BROCKHAMPTON, but it feels good to see that the band ended on such a strong streak. Check out the video for “NEW SHOES” below.