Monday, April 12th, 2021

Brockhampton ft. Danny Brown – Buzzcut

Moving into their final phase


Dede Akolo: Hearing that this single is rolling out the carpet for Brockhampton’s last album sent a lump in my throat. I have a very sentimental history with the group. My little sister was a stan when they first broke out with the Saturation trilogy. We met them when they performed at the Danforth Music Hall (I still have the photos on my phone). I saw The Longest Summer in America, one of their documentaries, the day it premiered. The event and fallout of Ameer’s departure signaled a definitive shift in both my and my sister’s lives. Things became real. The mist and sublime of youth shifted and a darker future took hold. Enough about my life. The ringing in this beat. It pulses and yet retains this near irritating pitch that doesn’t aggravate me somehow. Knowing that Brockhampton can still keep it weird through all these years is heartwarming. It’s extraordinary really. Hearing it, strangely, makes me feel safe. I don’t know. I’m sentimental. 

Tim de Reuse: Kevin Abstract is at the top of his game technically and his uncharacteristically high-energy delivery segues well into Danny Brown’s Danny Brown. On the other hand, Brockhampton in 2021 is using similar subject matter as Brockhampton in late 2017, and as compelling as these verses are, it’s funny to think of Kevin and the gang as plucky upstarts, especially with a beat that’s been polished so smooth. Perhaps I feel a little cool on it because their rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness structures are old hat by this point — or maybe some of the more interesting edges of their aesthetic have gotten rounded down over the years as they figured out what they wanted to do.

Julian Axelrod: I lost the plot on Brockhampton after the Saturation content flood of 2017. Like a buzzy teen drama in its third season, an influx of new faces and behind the scenes turmoil drowned out the narrative. “Buzzcut” could be considered a return to form, if Brockhampton ever had a defined form in the first place. It’s streamlined, focused, and very much sounds like it was recorded by a group of friends fist fighting in a glitched-out void. Danny Brown’s scene-stealing verse has karmic resonance, as a firebrand turned trash-rap elder statesman teaches a ragtag group of teen idols how to turn sustained chaos into a career.

Alfred Soto: Prolific and prolix, BROCKHAMPTON have a mixed record of proffering fully realized queer hip-hop of attractive density. “Buzzcut” begins with a clamor that won’t let up: a police siren ringing as if from beneath the Hudson, Kevin Abstract waxing despairingly about shit not changing, Danny Brown garbling a Raekwon-Nas line. 

John S. Quinn-Puerta: A key changes, a bridge starts, and an exercise in jubilant rage becomes a dirge. The drums are nowhere to be found in the last measures, the rhythm left to floating backup vocals, a keening saxophone taking us out. Placing this after two exuberant lyric-stuffed verses from Kevin Abstract and Danny Brown, where the beat knows when to take a step back to service the rhymes, takes this song from good to great. 

Ian Mathers: Kind of tails off at the end, but up until then the surprise isn’t that Danny Brown absolutely destroys over this production, it’s that the Brockhampton guy doesn’t do too bad either. Could absolutely end after about two minutes though.

Thomas Inskeep: Whatever you want, just please make Brockhampton’s Kevin Abstract and guest Danny Brown stop rapping. Their vocals on “Buzzcut” are loud and obnoxious, which I’m guessing is the point, but that doesn’t mean I like it. Not a bit. They sound as if the non-Busta members of Leaders of the New School had actually sucked.

Nortey Dowuona: The hurtling synths hide behind the bass kick and scattered percussion and starched snares. Kevin lopes over it, poison dripping from his fangs as he bites down and pushes you out, the hook swinging. Then Danny spikes the listener and gobbles him alive, spitting out a swirling synth bridge with cascading echoes as Joba wails demonically and Merlyn asked what is God to us. A crowning horn caps the bottle, leaving us floating away poisoned on the wind.

Taylor Alatorre: Kevin Abstract’s verse is a setup for a great punchline but is otherwise largely unmemorable, which is no fatal flaw in a song that’s all about unshackled energy and relentless forward momentum. Danny Brown, on the other hand, lands his punchline at the beginning and is much more adept at channeling his energy into canny, hard-hitting bars. He acknowledges his veteran status in one breath and interpolates Raekwon in the next, displaying a blasé assurance of his place in the larger pantheon. The blissed-out beat switch arrives just as the aggression is starting to wear out its welcome, tying the whole thing together into one erratic psych-industrial package.

Samson Savill de Jong: For someone with such a unique voice and flow, Danny Brown is a surprisingly versatile feature artist. He meshes perfectly with Brockhampton’s (and specifically Kevin Abstract’s) energy here, and both of them bring it in their verses. The production for their verses is immaculate as well, and although I wasn’t initially convinced by the beat switch post-Danny Brown, I’ve decided I like the eclectic nature of the soundscape there too. The song sounds like it’s about something, but I’m not entirely convinced it is; topics are alighted on and flown away from too rapidly for them to be expanded upon and explored. This is not at all uncommon in hip-hop, and often inevitable when featuring somebody, so it rarely prevents a song from being good, but it means I have my fill of the song slightly quicker and am less likely to come back to it over and over.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Saturation feels as old as the early 2000s aesthetics that these guys hint at here, and everything else Brockhampton has done since 2017 has felt muddled and transient — even their pop hit only really came into focus when they threw Jon B and Dua Lipa on it. “Buzzcut” feels like a double-throwback, both to East Coast rap circa 2001 and to the clarity of purpose Brockhampton itself had on its debut. Here, the protean nature of its style works to its strength, the sung verse sounding less like a meandering interlude and more like a natural kinetic progression out of the rap section. Danny Brown fits into this beautiful chaos perfectly, performing his own sort of self-nostalgia as he gets back into his Atrocity Exhibition style. Even with all of the pasts exhumed here, though, “Buzzcut” never seems overly mannered or self-parodic. It grows via its history.

Reader average: [9.66] (3 votes)

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