Last week, Kevin Abstract released his first collection of solo material since American Boyfriend in 2016. Featuring three new songs, ARIZONA baby was met with open arms and captivated ears by BROCKHAMPTON stans across the world. Upon the release of the project, Abstract announced Ghettobaby would find life the following week. True to his word, the next installment of his forthcoming full-length has arrived, continuing the story that began with ARIZONA baby.
Having recently gone on record stating he does not like EPs, Abstract revealed that each of the 3-song drops so far are pieces of a puzzle that will come together to form the forthcoming full-length. As of now, that LP is entitled ARIZONA baby, but only time will tell if the project will keep that name or be switched to something altogether new. If his subtle and not so subtle hints are any indication, there will be a third installment coming in the following days, more than likely on April 25th.
By now, it should be quite clear to any longtime or new listener that Abstract – much like the rest of his BROCKHAMPTON boy bandmates – does not have a singular sound or musical direction. Since the release of his self-titled EP in 2013, his music has been stylistically all over the place; never in a dysfunctional manner, but each new release comes with an enigmatic aura. We never really know what to expect. What remains, however, is the pureness and the authenticity that saturates each creative endeavor. Listeners get whatever mental, emotional and physical manifestation Abstract is at when the music is created and released. At times, it’s almost to an uncomfortable point how raw his expression is – both in the past and now, the music tells of Kevin while simultaneously forcing his audience to take off their own masks and stare wide-eyed into the mirror. But then, as we’re lost and found in our own reflection, the music comes through to wipe away the tears and wrap you in a warm embrace.
For as long as I’ve been listening to Kevin Abstract, through all the artistic and personal evolution and growth, the music has never been anything short of an experience that transcends the music itself.
Although previous releases have provided glimpses into Abstract’s history, his latest offering feels more open than ever before. And this openness carries over from his upbringing to the modern times, with listeners finding themselves on the receiving end of a purge of emotion, confessions, confusion and more that has been building within the psyche of the creative genius. There’s little doubt that Abstract has a need to create, but this collection of music feels like it stems from a need to create, address and, again, purge what he has been experiencing and feeling. Over the course of these first six songs, Kevin is being as transparent as possible, welcoming fans and listeners into his world, headspace and heart space, regardless of what the reaction may be. Of course, ARIZONA baby, Ghettobaby and whatever comes next will make the artist money, but – like past releases – it doesn’t feel like that is or was ever a driving factor in the creation of the body of work. As I listen through the six songs, Ghettobaby feels as if it comes from a place of survival – he has survived everything so far, but there was a lot going on internally that Kevin needed to get out in order to continue his healing.
Ghettobaby features six beautiful, moving and gut-wrenching songs, all of which tell a small part of the larger story. As such, the six records should be listened to from start to finish, without skipping or shuffling. Abstract has been releasing the full project in parts, with more on the way, in order to allow each section of the story to have the proper time to sit with fans and resonate. Like any book, the chapters are all necessary for the reader to experience what the creator intended. When you press play on Ghettobaby, give yourself the proper time and situate yourself in the proper environment to actively listen and take it all in – experience the words, the emotion, the production, and everything in between. There are bits and pieces written between the lines that will be missed if you become fixated on one bar or verse. You’ll be doing a disservice to Abstract, the process – both creative and healing – the music, and your own listening experience if you make the choice to focus your attention on any singular reference or statement, or become preoccupied with a particular namedrop.
‘Cause, yes, Kevin addresses the elephant in the room. But he does so elegantly and eloquently, never mentioning anything for simple shock value – everything is pieced together to tell a story, with no wasted space, no wasted emotion and no wasted energy. So, give yourself the time listen through Ghettobaby and then run it back – keep the album on repeat and allow the story, Kevin’s story, to reveal itself to you through the radiating authenticity and storytelling on display throughout each of the six tracks. It’s an acknowledgment of his pain, addressing the cognitive dissonance permeating his life while still finding time to celebrate the blessings – even if those blessings open the door for more trials and tribulations.
Ghettobaby is available now on all major streaming platforms.
Preview Ghettobaby and watch “Baby Boy” below.