There were plenty of great hip hop albums in 2017, but one series in particular stands out as a perfect way to end the year. The three-album series, Saturation, from the group Brockhampton, is an extended exploration of life after the end of history, not in Francis Fukuyama’s sense of the triumph of rational capitalism, but more like Mad Max in the desert—this is the soundtrack to life in Bartertown.
“Saturation” is an apt and aptly overwhelming metaphor—everything about this project is over-extended, from the colors in the music videos to the audio effects. In a saturated solution, all parts are as indistinguishably soaked as all other parts; in Brockhampton, time is saturated, place is saturated—it’s impossible to tell when or where you are. Hip hop used to be about place and specific places: “It’s not where you’re from, but where you’re at”. Maybe no one is from anywhere anymore. Maybe all of our talk of walls and nations is just bravado to cover for the fact that these things, too, have been forced into obsolescence by global capital.
Brockhampton is the boy band of the future in which there is no future. A supergroup that works just as well in Hollywood as it does in Taiwan, New Delhi, Accra or even Wichita—it’s all the same company town.