Review Summary: baby boy, are you alright?"Baby boy are you alright？"
goes the best BROCKHAMPTON song, "MARCH", a stunningly sad yet bubblegumy piece of ephemera that covers Kevin Abstract's whole origin story in under two minutes. Meanwhile the best song on ARIZONA BABY
is called "Baby Boy" without the phrase being said once, built instead on a hook that first surfaced attached to the BROCKHAMPTON song "Let's Get Married", before that was consigned to the black hole that swallowed the PUPPY
sessions. Coincidence, maybe, but then Kevin Abstract is unique not only for churning out hook after hook with near-unmatched consistency, but for the vision he brings to his disparate projects when he ties them together. ARIZONA BABY
is Kevin's most diverse album yet in production, veering from Southern-tinged slappers to euphoric rushes of R&B to more Blond(e)
-inspired meanderings, but an emotional vulnerability that follows on from "MARCH" and the like pulls these disparate songs together into something more.
Fifty bucks to you if you ever predicted Jack Antonoff being sucked into the BROCKHAMPTON orbit: his hazy guitar-oriented fingerprints are all over low-key cuts "Corpus Christi" and "Baby Boy", while Romil continues his excellent work on iridescence
, throwing horns that would make OutKast blush on "Joy Ride" and weaving psychedelic Gambino-style rideouts into "Use Me" and "Georgia". "Use Me" drops in on a chilling gospel sample that will recall "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1", though like that song it ends far too quickly with some unfulfilled potential. The best non-single is probably "Peach", which recruits new guy Dominic Fike alongside Joba and bearface for an embarrassment of honey-smooth hooks over slow-as-molasses Southern beats. It all sounds like a mess, but Kevin's newfound love for confession pulls things together. The album hits an emotional high on the middle run, released a week earlier as the Ghettobaby
EP. "Corpus Christi" is just an emotional onslaught that rivals the most vulnerable Kanye songs, including an "I wonder if Ameer think about me" line that's basically a grenade thrown into the BROCKHAMPTON subreddit, while "Baby Boy" yearns for a connection to God or just a lover in a falsetto-led bridge that could induce real goosebumps. The only miss is "American Problem", which harkens back to the first SATURATION
and its musical schizophrenia, jumping from idea to idea to quickly that rarely one gets a chance to develop. But that's Abstract's bread and butter, he's usually just doing it in a more assured way nowadays – songs will alight on a hook other artists would spend whole discographies searching for, only to drop it and quickly move on in a way both frustrating and delightful.
was cut up into three EPs for release, as if the barely half-hour runtime wasn't digestible enough. But in contrast to BROCKHAMPTON's everyone-included, skit-heavy albums, Kevin tends to cut things down to the bone. As a rapper he often makes his best impressions in blasts of 30-second verses, just as the songs are always eager to move on to a new sound. That's why "Baby Boy" has a true all-timer of a chorus, Kevin's best even though he's not the one singing it; the song lets the euphoric rush of a hook dominate it entirely, in no rush to do anything else but linger on the melody. It's a nice reminder of how easy it was to get swept up in the hype when the SATURATION
era kicked off 2 (!) years ago, how the chemical-reaction mix of personalities and styles somehow worked, by all indications still is working. One flavour alone can't possibly match the rush of the full set, of course. But with his endless flows, inexhaustible series of hilarious punchlines matched pace-for-pace by devastating confessionals and shameless R&B leanings, if anyone is built to dominate a solo release it's Kevin Abstract.