BROCKHAMPTON chooses quantity over quality in their two new albums ‘TM’ and ‘The Family’

2 December 2022 / by Owen Kropp
TM album cover
Album reviews
Released: November 17, 2022
Label: Question Everything, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment
Hip-Hop / R&B / Rap
Injury Reserve / JPEGMAFIA / Ryan Beatty

American boyband Brockhampton is back with their alleged final albums together.

After bursting onto the hip-hop scene with a trilogy of albums titled ‘Saturation,’ Brockhampton has quickly established themselves as a genre-bending, diverse group of young creatives with a lot of talent. A mix of writers, rappers, producers and singers, the group boasts members from Texas, Northern Ireland and Grenada. 

Over the course of their 12-year run, the band has not shied away from talking about difficult topics in their music. They’ve written songs ranging from homophobia faced while growing up in Texas to parents committing suicide, highlighting Brockhampton’s distinct discography as full of rich life experiences from the group.

That said, virtually none of those things are present here in ‘TMor ‘The Family.’

Each album runs for around 35 minutes and were released a day apart from the other.

Starting off with ‘The Family,’ there isn’t much to talk about reality. This project is pretty much a one-man show with the group’s frontman Kevin Abstract being the sole contributor for the vast majority of the project.

While this is disappointing enough, the songs just aren’t good. Most feel like unfinished demos at best and while there are glimpses of quality, they are overshadowed by flimsy production and filler content.

The fact that there are a total of nine tracks that are less than two minutes is ridiculous. Most only contain half a verse and a chorus and are certainly not finished songs.

“Basement” features a completely washed-out bass line, abrasive vocals and runs for just 1:13.

On “Southside” Abstract does his best Baby Keem impression over a metallic, looping sample. It’s not a bad mix but again, the song is just 1:21 and the last 20 seconds are a skit. A minute of good music doesn’t make a good song.

“The Ending” is the closest we get to some actually good Brockhampton music with a great vocal sample accompanied by some hard-hitting bars.

On “Prayer” Abstract sings melancholically over some organs but there’s no build-up, progression or any of the other elements that make up a completed song. Another track that’s more of a voice memo.

“Big Pussy” and “All That” are fine, but Abstract mentions multiple times that “the label needed 35 minutes of music.” I think Abstract describes the album best on “Gold Teeth” when he says he “only made this to get out the deal.”

To summarize, there are glimpses of some great tracks here. Good samples, hard-hitting lyrics and creative production are all present. And yet, they just aren’t fleshed out to where they could and should be on a completed album. Minute-long songs are fine if supplemented with longer ones but when they make up more than half the album, there’s a problem. Considering what we know the group is capable of, it’s a disappointing final result.

The sole reason to give this project a listen is for the lyrical content. Abstract provides details on how the group has reached its demise and his perspective on how it all unfolded in lyrics like, “Did we sign for too many motherfuckin’ albums? Probably / Now we hate each other just to hang out.” 

While this is interesting to Brockhampton fans, to any newcomers, I would just surpass this album altogether. There’s nothing really here and this album honestly would have been better off as a Twitter post.

Moving on to ‘TMthe rest of the group joins in but the quality doesn’t get much better.

Another painfully short album,  ‘TMreally doesn’t showcase the best in any members of the group and just feels “phoned in.”

On top of that, the singer and songwriter Bearface is nowhere to be seen here and only has a small part in one song on ‘The Family.’ For how good his vocals are, his minuscule contribution is a big disappointment.

You can certainly tell that the group is going for more of a solemn, introspective ending to their time as a group but it feels like they could have fleshed out these ideas and spent some more time in the studio.

Songs like “BETTER THINGS,” “KEEP IT SOUTHERN” and “ANIMAL,” are completely forgettable and members are often so bathed in autotune that life is stripped right out of the song.

“NEW SHOES” is the only good track across either album. A catchy riff and thumping bassline show us that there is still some trace of the magic the group once had. Merlyn Wood and Matt Champion deliver some great verses and Abstract’s chorus is catchy and alluring.

And lastly, the final three tracks are dull and don’t display any of the ingenuity and creativity that fans have become accustomed to.

“DUCT TAPE” is just mushy autotune over a boring chord progression with the last minute being off-key.

There isn’t too much to add about “ALWAYS SOMETHING.” More of the same: a boring attempt at slower, R&B-inspired music.

And “GOODBYE” seems to have even less effort put into it. The vocals are delivered lazily over an immature-sounding beat and the high-pitched, auto-tuned vocals from Matt Champion are certainly not appreciated.

Overall, it’s painful to say that Brockhampton has really underdelivered so massively. These projects really fall short and don’t demonstrate any of the reasons why the group became popular in the first place. On top of them cancelling the vast majority of shows on their final tour as a group, it’s really a shame that this is the alleged end to such a profoundly unique and diverse band. At its best, their music was filled with meaningful content, genuinely interesting production and a wide range of vocals and styles from the various members. And yet, their end will be remembered as more of a stumble to the finish line rather than a sprint.