Song of the Week
“THE LIGHT” by BROCKHAMPTON is an intimidating dark melody off of BROCKHAMPTON’s album “Roadrunner”, released July 16, 2021. The two featured artists on this track include Kevin Abstract and Joba. In the song, we tumble head first down a dreary emotional spiral . Joba opens up about mental health and his father’s suicide while Abstract connects with his childhood and exhausted family relationships. I chose this song for song of the week because I admire the courage it took for them to expose themselves the way they do and I feel the lyrics of the song deserve more attention.
You can hear the dial tone ring before a somber tone mumbles desperate words to someone on the other side of the phone. “I give, my mom so, – mess / In the same house my dad died in, all alone / Tryin’ not to be paranoid / … / ‘Cause every headline is a reminder the world’s fucked / So I’m just tryin’ to see the light / In between the clouds / Still love that sunshine.” This epic intro has us feeling Joba’s anguish through his despairing grasps at hope. He seems worried that his mom is going to take her own life as well. After losing one parent that way it is a reasonable fear. That is what his paranoia concerns but as he looks around him for a way out of the dark, the world outside of himself appears to be just as gloomy.
The powerful song is divided into two sections profiling both artists and giving them their own space to tell their stories. With a low rumbling tone, Joba exposes himself to the world showing tenacity and comfort in an otherwise insufferable vulnerability. “When I look at myself, I see a broken man / Remnants of my pops, put the Glock to his head / Nothing ever go as planned, couldn’t make amends / Forcibly pretend I don’t give a damn.” Joba starts off his verse with the blatant honest truth, His dad commited suicide. All he has left are these words in his head he wished he made a reality. This is a direct assertion to denial, the first stage of grief. Pretending not to care can only get you so far.
The haunting verse continues with Joba experiencing the mental aftermath of such a traumatic event. “I see you in the faces / Places and my making, reflections of a broken mirror / Fragments of my fear glarin’ back like, ‘Who’s there?’ / I can’t stand myself, beside myself, I see you there.” Joba can see his dad in every part of his life because the denial has his subconscious searching for him. The scene he describes here at first I thought was metaphorical but now I see it more literally. He is still pretending not to feel. All of that anger he keeps inside exploded out of him in a punch to the mirror in front of him. What he felt as anger, he now sees as fear in his reflection. This concoction of emotions swirls around in Joba’s confused and fragile mind. His dad is always with him but also never with him at the same time and it is terrible.
Joba finishes his story with the most mystifying yet heartfelt lines. “Shadow people and needles fading through a peephole / Bedtime stories from purgatory, I miss you.” This is an ambiguous line therefore interpretations may vary. I understand this line as a memory and a scene from his childhood. A child version of him at night might have looked through the peephole on his door to see people he didn’t recognize and drug use. Bedtime for him was not filled with wonder and stories but worrying about what was happening outside of his room. The longing for his father’s presence still remains.
The bridge serves as a melodic transition between Abstract and Joba’s stories. “For the record, I can fly / Around the world absorbing light / Something’s missing deep inside / The light.” This bridge and the title brings me to one question. What is the light? It’s something he searches for and can feel around him but for some reason can’t hold onto. I think that the light is hope. Feeling light is the same feeling hope gives you, all of your burdens being lifted off of your chest. The corrosive guitar carries us over this battered lullaby.
Abstract’s story spills out the same weight and you can hear his burning frustration flip like a switch. “Y’all stuck in the Matrix / Red pill, blue pill, all these different faces / All these different cases, shit, y’all done seen me naked / So i’ma wear what I want now and I ain’t finna fake it.” I believe his Matrix analogy refers to people ignoring the problems around them. You choose to stay oblivious or wake up to your surroundings. It’s a great opener for his confident demand to not hide himself anymore. Abstract came out as gay in 2016 at 19-years-old. Abstract wants to rip others out of a backward thinking picture they are too comfortable in.
The last lines I’ll focus on is a scene of Abstract looking down on a chaotic world and thinking on his place in it. “I was standing on the bridge, I seen all y’all under me / Know you are struggling, n***** out here juggling / Losin’ jobs and losing God, then everything is tumbling.” We are all in this together. Everyone has their struggles and It can be easy to slip into the crippling hallucination of loneliness thinking it’s only happening to you. Maybe we are all more connected than we think we are. Leave a comment on what you think the lyrics mean!