In light of Kevin Abstract of Brockhampton’s 3rd solo project ‘ARIZONA BABY’ I thought I’d look back on one of the work’s that put his name on the map as a solo artist before Brockhampton’s meteoric rise, in his album ‘American Boyfriend’. An introspective yet outwardly emotional project that sees Abstract explore his sexuality and racial treatment whilst growing up. Specifically I’ll be looking at the opening track ‘Empty’, which encapsulates the sentiment and story of the album.
The production through the track is simplistic to its benefit putting emphasis on Abstract’s lyrics and vocals, with a simple piano and snare drum progression. ‘Sweaty palms as I walk down this empty road’ the song opens and it conjures up this image of Abstract walking down the street at night with a dilemma about his mum and his boyfriend: a struggle between being accepted for being black and being accepted for being gay.
‘American Boyfriend' is an introspective yet outwardly emotional project.
With so much raw emotion in the track its impressive how Abstract keeps the track grounded, ‘I love my mum, but I hate my boyfriend’ as a lyric hits hard; he doesn’t literally hate his boyfriend but instead that he has one and is gay, as he chases his mother’s affection that he can’t get by being who he really his.
By the end of the track he comes to terms with himself ‘I’ve waited for you all my life, I need you by my side’ in reference to his boyfriend, followed by the outdo ‘empty home’ then ‘My family’s gone, but I don’t care because I love ‘em.’ This struggle as he comes to terms with his sexuality and that he does want his boyfriend yet his family won’t accept him even though he loves them.
Its a track about coming to terms with who you are and the consequences of it, its such a personal story but told in a way that resonates with so many, myself included, despite being neither black nor gay. This is true for a lot of Kevin Abstract’s music and is a factor in why Brockhampton rose so quickly, telling personal stories that expose people’s flaws and makes people feel like they’re not alone in the world. Especially in the band’s track ‘MILK’ off of the first SATURATION album, where several group members, including Abstract, tell their stories of being outsiders.