Ginger is the fifth full-length project from Texas/California all-male group, BROCKHAMPTON. Since 2017, BROCKHAMPTON has seen a quick rise in stardom through the music industry, thanks to the legendary Saturation trilogy that will be streamed for generations to come. However, things took a turn for the worse in 2018 as one of their lead vocalists and literal face of the group on all three Saturation covers, Ameer Vann was kicked out of the group following multiple allegations of sexual abuse. The tumultuous exit of Vann came recently after the group landed a $15 million deal with RCA Records. With the signing to RCA and the departure of Vann, many fans and critics questioned the direction that the group would take and how they would adapt to losing a vocalist, while one-dimensional, was the main staple on the majority of the fantastic tracks in BROCKHAMPTON’s discography so far. When Iridescence dropped in the Fall of last year, I said in my review that the group was still reeling from Vann’s departure and the project, while good, was nowhere near the quality of any of their previous works. Thus, leads us to Ginger, which will take you down a cathartic experience as each member sounds off on the turmoil and near breaking points that they hit last year.
Leading into Ginger, we were given four teaser tracks. “I BEEN BORN AGAIN” has a banging beat but other than Bearface’s cold kickoff to the song, no one really has a stand-out moment. That all changes with “IF YOU PRAY RIGHT”, which is BROCKHAMPTON at their finest. The horn samples mixed with this futuristic beat would have fit perfectly on the group’s best album, Saturation II and every member is at their best on the song. “BOY BYE” is the stand-out instrumental of the entire project and the vocal chemistry is near-perfection. “NO HALO” sets the tone of the album and is one of my favorite tracks of 2019. The song brings out the emotion of previous events and how these group members were affected by them and how they were lost and struggled to find themselves. Matt Champion’s reverbed singing on the hook is very satisfying and this alt-R&B direction that the album goes down fit right into my wheelhouse. Unfortunately, the sound of this project has never felt more commercial for BROCKHAMPTON, which could be a troubling sign for the group.
Other than the lead singles, the only song that really stands out is the powerful “DEARLY DEPARTED”. in which the group finds closure through this catharsis of letting out their true thoughts on Vann. Dom McLennon’s verse was morbid in that he discusses Vann setting up one of his friends to get robbed. When I go through the rest of this tracklist, however, none of them caught my eye. “SUGAR” is a perfectly fine alt-R&B song and “ST.PERCY” is this mild banger with Kevin Abstract and Matt Champion using their vocals in that Drake-styled, Caribbean accent. The album-titled track has this incredibly bland instrumental with obnoxious autotune strewn throughout. “BIG BOY” has an intriguing verse from JOBA but the instrumental is all over the place and out of focus from everyone’s vocals. “HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU” is not even a BROCKHAMPTON song. It is an unnecessary extension of “IF YOU PRAY RIGHT” with British rapper, slowthai delivering over the track’s instrumental.
Ginger is BROCKHAMPTON’s weakest attempt in terms of production. While there are beautiful, enticing, and powerful moments, much of the group’s originality is stripped back by the generic sounds on here. The album is saved by the vocals and delivery of each group member, proving that the group is one of the most versatile music groups of the 2010s, but the sound that we have come to associate with BROCKHAMPTON is missing. Again, another good album from the group but easily the group’s least ambitious musical statement.
Richest Tracks: “NO HALO”, “SUGAR”, “BOY BYE”, “ST. PERCY”, “IF YOU PRAY RIGHT”, “DEARLY DEPARTED”, “LOVE ME FOR LIFE”, “VICTOR ROBERTS”
Worst Track: “GINGER”