This is the 4th full-length album from Corpus Christi rapper, rapper, singer-songwriter, producer & director Kevin Abstract. who made his debut in 2014 with MTV1987. He followed it up 2 years later with the fantastic American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story & then the following year, he rose to stardom as the de facto leader of BROCKHAMPTON. But with their 7th & final album TM coming tomorrow, Kevin’s re-emerging on his own with The Family marketed as a group project only to fulfill their RCA Records contract.
“Take It Back” is a chipmunk soul opener with Kevin admitting that he had to wash the blue paint off to set himself free & promising the next chapter to be everything whereas “RZA” works in another pitched-vocal sample from bearface talks about having to be more like The Abbot himself after speaking to his mother the other day trying to give him advice. “Gold Teeth” looks back on the early days of the boy band over a crooning loop kin to “They Don’t Care About Us” by Michael Jackson just before “Big Pussy” has more of a jazzy boom bap flare to it asking to stop harassing him because the show’s over.
Meanwhile on “All That”, we have Kevin admitting that the boys’ success came with problems of becoming rich with an amazing interpolation of the theme song from the titular Nickelodeon show that I grew up watching leading into “(Back from the) Road” reflecting on the Love Your Parents tour over a jangly instrumental. “Basement” has a more experimental quality to the production acknowledges his love for the fans despite that they’d kill him if they could, but then “Southside” tells those to stop actin’ like they know him over a sample-based trap beat.
“Good Time” has a more drumless approach to it speaking on the days when the boys played their final shows in London while the syrupy sample throughout “37th” is a cool ode to their Texas roots talking about ending up on the titular street if he could fly through a Cali night. “Boyband” weaves a gospel loop into the fold à la Kanye West’s last finished full-length DONDAacknowledging that they’ve always been outside of the lines while “Any Way You Want Me” asking what if he could change for us because we have him everything over a guitar.
Moving on to the title track, where Kevin jumps on top of a peppy beat with no drums talking about those not knowing shit about him while “Prayer” is a more melodic cut with some bare synths asking God not to make him grow up because he doesn’t want to move on from this amazing chapter in his life. The song “My American Life” goes in depth of how far he’s come in the last 7 years over some acoustics while the penultimate track “The Ending”samples “Let Me Be the One” by Willie Hutch asking if this is the way we all visioned the demise. “Brockhampton” though is a symphonic closer to the album with Kevin bidding farewell to the best boy band since 1 Direction.
It’s pretty much a Kevin Abstract solo effort labeled as a BROCKHAMPTON album & I’m assuming that’s the case because of contractual reasons, but I happen to think The Family is the best thing Kevin has done since American Boyfriend only 6 years back by now. He comes from the heart as he reflects one last time on the journey he & the boys have been on together with the production pulling from chipmunk soul, drumless, jazz rap & gospel. Considering that, I think TM will be a remarkably bittersweet swan song when it drops tomorrow.
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