Kevin Abstract-‘Ghettobaby’ EP

Trent Ryden
Staff Writer

PC: Keia Harris

Rapper and songwriter Ian Simpson, also known as Kevin Abstract, the mastermind behind the rap/alt pop group Brockhampton, has been feeling lonely lately. It does not come as much of a surprise considering the fact that he abandoned the creative direction of his famed rap entourage and is releasing a solo project, “Ghettobaby,” which will be out in its entirety on April 18. Three of the six songs on the album were released a week earlier on Apr il11. “Ghettobaby” largely deals with love, relationships, trust issues, intrapersonal reflection and trying to make sense of life after finding fame.  

Simpson’s musical background and reputation is tightly interwoven with the now disbanded Brockhampton’s legacy, so it is now a question as to what kind of artist Simpson really is, given that his most notable musical contributions consisted of group collaborations rather than a solo effort.

Simpson has released a solo project in the past with his 2016 release of “American Boyfriend.” “American Boyfriend” got mostly positive reviews, praising Simpson for his innovation, unique songwriting and bold lines rapping about life as an openly gay rapper.

Shortly after his release of “American Boyfriend” in 2016, Brockhampton began to become the center of Simpson’s artistic identity, thrusting him into next level stardom.

Now fast forward a few years to 2019 with the release of “Ghettobaby,” and we see a lonely Simpson rapping and singing on his new project about many of the same topics that he talked about on American Boyfriend.

“Ghettobaby,” upon first listening, sounds like it was inspired by the spacey, heartfelt avant-garde rap/R&B tracks off of Frank Ocean’s album “Blonde.” However, “Ghettobaby” falls short on the delivery and execution of such style, sounding more like incomplete, overly cerebral, sappy adolescent love songs fueled by angst than it does the mature, put together, well-rounded musical project that Ocean’s “Blonde” was.

The overall musical direction that “Ghettobaby” intended to go in becomes very clear after listening to “Big Wheels,” the very first track off of “Ghettobaby.”

For a listener who is versed in Simpson’s past work, one would know that he is no stranger to sad topics and somber melodies, especially his frequent use of modified vocal pitching and unorthodox rap flows.

“Ghettobaby,” however, presents to the listener the entirety of Simpson’s melancholic state without holding back. In the end, it becomes a bit much. His attempted experimentation went awry with its delivery, and Simpson’s musical ideas were, to say the least, untethered and slightly out of touch. They came across to the listener as an excessively moody individual unsure exactly of what it is he wants.

The word indecisive comes to mind when thinking of how Simpson is trying to express his feelings on “Ghettobaby,” given the same melancholic feel pervades throughout the song listing, but done so in a way that is reminiscent of a hormonal teenager who cries for the sake of crying, and less so for the sake of making a listenable final product.

All in all, “Ghettobaby” marks a step forward for Simpson, considering his latest project release was Brockhampton’s fourth and last studio album, “Iridescence.” “Ghettobaby” is a project that Simpson can call his own and no one else’s, and perhaps, maybe that is all that Simpson really wanted to prove: that this project is his voice and his alone.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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