“ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE”

The cover art for “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE” shows a glowing white portrait of band member Joba in front of a field during a colorful sunset. The light outline alludes to the album title as well as the different themes and meanings of light throughout the album.

Question Everything/RCA

The cover art for “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE” shows a glowing white portrait of band member Joba in front of a field during a colorful sunset. The light outline alludes to the album title as well as the different themes and meanings of light throughout the album.

Madison La Crosse

Two years after their last album “GINGER,” hip-hop collective BROCKHAMPTON (BH) released their sixth album entitled “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE” (stylized in all caps). Subsequent to its release on April 9, 2021, the album has garnered almost all positive reviews, with many even calling it their best work yet. The band experiments with a lot of new stylistic choices and features many other artists throughout the tracklist, such as A$AP Rocky, Danny Brown, Charlie Wilson, and more. The album not only focuses on the actual music, but hits the listener with some very heavy lyrics that show the boys’ deep thoughts and feelings. The songs seem to focus less on the typical BH style of being loud and out there and instead try to create a certain mood through a combination of the vocals, lyrics, and instrumentals. 

 

BUZZCUT (feat. Danny Brown)

“BUZZCUT” was the first glimpse into “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE” (RR) as it was released as a single in late March. This was definitely a great choice to preview the album, because it warned fans of the style shift to come. “BUZZCUT” is a psychedelic trip in musical form, which is cemented by the trippy music video. On first listen it sounds like an aggressive ‘90s style rap song, but band member Kevin Abstract talks about how former member Ameer Vann’s departure affected him and about his family relations, a common theme in Abstract’s lyrics. Featured artist Danny Brown’s verse doesn’t have much deeper meaning, but it’s excellent just the same. 

 

CHAIN ON (feat. JPEGMAFIA)

Similar to “BUZZCUT,” “CHAIN ON” feels straight out of the ‘90s due to its instrumentals. JPEGMAFIA makes infinite pop culture references in his verse, and BH member Dom McLennon upholds his reputation for excellent lyrics in his first appearance on the album. Overall, the song sounds like hanging out on a summer night with your cool skater friends and is much calmer than some of their other upbeat records. 

 

COUNT ON ME

Uncredited in the title, this song actually features A$AP Rocky and SoGone SoFlexy in the verses and Shawn Mendes, Ryan Beatty, and producer Jabari Manwa in the chorus. Due to the breathy chorus and BH member Matt Champion’s echoey verse, this song to me feels like it lives BH up to the boyband title. It’s a good song, but it’s definitely not my favorite on the album. The music video is very interesting, though, with the same psychedelic vibe as the “BUZZCUT” video, and it features Lil Nas X and Dominic Fike.

 

BANKROLL (feat. A$AP Rocky & A$AP Ferg)

This is BH member Merlyn Wood’s first bigger feature on the album, and it’s a great start for him. He’s known to have smaller parts on songs normally, but he has a pretty long verse on “BANKROLL,” and he definitely kills it. Choosing Merlyn to work with featured artists A$AP Rocky and Ferg was a great choice as they pair very well together on this song. Overall, it’s a pretty chill banger and a good change of style and pace for Merlyn.

 

THE LIGHT

TW: Suicide

Joba’s first large feature on “ROADRUNNER” comes with his verse on “THE LIGHT.” He raps about the heavy feelings that have haunted him since his father’s suicide. Reading his words sting on another level because of the raw and real emotion he lets out in them. He talks about how he’s angry at his dad for doing it and how he feels bad for his mother. The light that he speaks of refers to God and Heaven, which is referenced more later in the album and also relates back to the title with the theme of the “new light.” Kevin Abstract is the second feature on this song, and he talks a lot about his mom and sexuality, as he normally does. He also discusses the current state and feelings of the world surrounding racism and other things. The song also has great guitar backing that compliment the lyrics very well. 

 

WINDOWS (feat. SoGone SoFlexy)

“WINDOWS” is a 6:11 callout to every social issue in the country. Everyone has a feature on the song, and they all use them to talk about some aspect of the state of current affairs. Some topics the boys talk about include police brutality, the justice system, and capitalistic greed. The song has a good beat and flow, and although it’s very long, it is still very enjoyable to listen to due to the different vibes of each verse. 

 

I’LL TAKE YOU ON (feat. Charlie Wilson)

Some fans have stated that “I’LL TAKE YOU ON” reminds them a lot of “HOTTIE” from the album “SATURATION III,” and I’d say I have to agree with them. This track is a fun upbeat love song with a contagious beat and is one of my favorites off the album. “HOTTIE” is one of my favorite BH songs, and the fact that these two are similar is probably why I like this one so much, despite it being one of the simpler ones on the new album. 

 

OLD NEWS (feat. Baird)

There are not many other descriptors for this song besides “banger.” Jabari produced a great track and accompanies it with a great verse. My favorite features would have to be those of Baird and Joba, because their calm verses just hit so differently for some reason. Overall, the song is super catchy and another one of my favorites on the album. 

 

WHAT’S THE OCCASION

BH tries out a rock ‘n’ roll style with “WHAT’S THE OCCASION.” The song has many parallels to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles in regards to its instrumental pieces. The melancholy vibes of the guitar and piano in this song are very Beatle-esque, and although it’s wildly different from BH’s normal style, they executed it very well and put together a really nice gloomy song. 

 

WHEN I BALL

Dom, Matt and Joba create a beautiful ode to their childhoods in this song. The piano is gorgeous and pairs perfectly with the topic of the song, as it’s about childhood and moving on and spreading your wings. It feels very hopeful overall. Dom’s verse talks about how the treatment of Black people in the justice system has affected him from a young age and about “the talk” his mom had with him about what to do if he’s ever confronted by police as a Black man. Matt talks about his ambitions as a child, and Joba talks about spreading his wings and moving to a new chapter in his life. Overall, this is one of my favorite BH songs of all time, and the hopeful yet sorrowful sound of it mixed with the excellent vocals and lyrics makes me want to listen on repeat. 

 

DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY

As the title suggests, this song is all about gun violence and other social issues that plague America. Kevin talks about his experiance as a gay Black man and the troubles he has faced with those aspects of himself. The song is very upbeat and is very much a party song, but simultaneously talks about important issues which I think is pretty cool. It’s definitely one of the best songs on the album. 

 

DEAR LORD

I’m not the greatest fan of Bearface and his voice normally, so I don’t particularly love “DEAR LORD” as it’s all his vocals with no backing music. There comes some harmony from other members partway through, which sounds pretty good, but as the title tells, the entire song is really a conversation between Bearface and God. It’s a nice sentiment, but it just doesn’t hit for me and is probably my least favorite part of the album. 

 

THE LIGHT PT. II

The album ends on a very strong note with “THE LIGHT PT. II”. It’s just like the first song where it only features verses by Joba and Kevin Abstract. Kevin talks about racism and his childhood, common themes for him throughout the album. Joba’s verse is entirely directed towards his father once again and is just straight-up poetic as well as heart wrenching. The instrumentals are simple, yet have a somewhat angelic feel, which fits perfectly with the theme of light/Heaven on the album and ends it off on a flawless track.

 

Overall, the album is very heavy, intense, and profound and shows a very raw side to each member. It’s immensely somber at times, but it also has some excellent upbeat tunes that makes it a very well-rounded record. The new stylistic choices worked perfectly, and I believe this is one of their best albums yet (second to my personal favorite, “SATURATION III”). There’s been talk by Kevin Abstract of a second album this year, so we can only hope it lives up to “ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE.”