Having only discovered Brockhampton during the rollout of their final album, I was disappointed to once again be late to discover an artist that would come to be one of my favorites. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my disappointment had been unwarranted when Matt Champion, a founding member of the band, started dropping singles in early February.

Brockhampton, a hip-hop boy band originating from Texas, released the Saturation series – a trio of albums – within the span of six months to widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. But alongside their rising fame, the group also faced significant challenges.

Ameer Vann, one of the members, was accused of sexual misconduct, leading to his departure from the group. This period of turmoil along with several personal crises led Brockhampton to announce a shift toward solo careers. In 2022, fulfilling their contract obligations to their label, they released two albums in two days, possibly concluding their group projects. Kevin Abstract, the group's founder and prominent figure, in an interview with the Broken Record Podcast hosted by Rick Rubin, agreed that it's either a "let's not do this for a while," or "maybe a let's not do this ever."

Matt Champion was one of the original members of Brockhampton. He met the rest of the group on an online forum called Kanye To The, and they decided to start a band shortly thereafter. During his time with Brockhampton, Champion would alternate between melodic rapping, aggressive funk and conventional singing vocals. After being radio silent since the release of "The Family" and "TM," he surprised fans by releasing his first single, “Aphid,” kicking off his album rollout for Mika's Laundry.

Mika’s Laundry sees Matt Champion explore a variety of sonic choices, and I really enjoyed the diverse soundscape he created. He experiments with heavy influence from other artists such as Frank Ocean and Dijon while simultaneously pushing his own musical niche and talents in an attempt to discover his own unique sound. Rather than presenting a unified album, Mika's Laundry is a testament to Champion’s versatility, offering a tracklist that explores different facets of his artistry rather than forming a cohesive LP.

Starting the rollout on a high note, "Aphid" is a beautifully layered, feel-good piece of alternative R&B with a soft instrumental touch. Champion’s not stretching his vocals or pushing artistic boundaries, but the transitions from deft rapping to beautifully sung sections where he harmonizes his vocals with the instrumentation make a strong impression. Dijon's feature on the track stands out, complementing Matt's vocals with tasteful counterpoint.

The next single is “Slug,” a synthy pop dance track that takes the album in a different direction. Though I didn't enjoy it off the bat, the experimental sound grew on me with repeated listens. “Slug” starts off by pushing Champion’s vocal range to its limits. His vocals are deliberately staccato, sharp and choppy. Later, his vocals harmonize with others on the chorus to yield a beautiful audio oasis in the desert of choppy, raspy verses.

The last lead single is “Slow Motion,” which boasts an unexpected feature of Jennie from BLACKPINK. This was the collaboration I didn't know I needed. Jennie starts the song in slow motion with soft singing and a simple piano track in the background, setting us up for a slow love ballad. Jennie vocals suddenly get looped and the song morphs into high-energy dance art pop. The energy and pace of the song ebb and flow, but ultimately intrigued and thrilled me.

Despite the undoubtedly solid lineup of lead singles, the real gems of this album are the deep cuts. The intro track, “Green,” is a piece of Lofi hip-hop with seemingly random beats, a charming twinkle sound, extra percussion and synths. However, the most captivating part is Matt's choice to stretch out his vocals once again, but higher than in “Slug,” but seems more raspy. It looks as if he was singing this while intentionally asphyxiating himself. This isn't a critique! It produces an incredible audio experience where you are right on the edge of enjoying it and anticipating when his voice is about to fall off. The song ends with laser sounds (?!), which adds a unique twist I wasn't expecting.

Again, demonstrating his diversity, “Gbiv” is a cut of industrial hip-hop with an empty and hollow instrumental underscoring the intro. Quickly turns into a pulsing instrumental leading to the beat drop, where Matt drops a verse that sounds straight from Roadrunner, their last album as a group. The song then transitions to a melodic piano piece. This really shows Brockhampton's Kanye roots, which seemingly draw inspiration from Yeezus.

Matt returns to his groove with “Purify,” then a more singer/songwriter approach with “Dogfish.” He extends the rest of his musical talent and range throughout the rest of the deep cuts. However, despite his evident talent and ability in rapping and in general as a vocal performer (vocal range, songwriting ability, harmonization, etc.), songs leave much to be desired. Despite “Gbiv” being my favorite cut before the LP, the song sounds more like one verse from a full Brockhampton song than a whole track. It ends rather abruptly, and the song structure isn't there. Despite the inspiration from songs such as “New Slaves,” off Yeezus, the switch to the piano doesn't seem as well done. The general criticism of song structure extends to the other deep cuts. The project is just an endlessly boring track that appears not only to not progress past 40 seconds in but seems hopelessly unfinished. “Code Red”, again, sounds like just one part of a full Brockhampton song rather than a whole track.

Despite Matt's clear experimental artistic choice with his spiritual debut album, the moments of clear artistic brilliance are clearly evident. His standout performances on “Green” and “Slug” demonstrate his vocal range while “Purify” and “Aphid” demonstrate an R&B musical direction. At the same time, “Gbiv” still signals to Brockhampton fans that Matt still has his harsh, choppy, energetic and captivating rapping performance. This 33-minute album, packed with unique vocal cuts, song structures and a hint of the old Brockhampton, is a must-hear.

Thumbnail image courtesty of RCA Records