American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story Album Review
Released November 18, 2016
Genre: Alternative R&B, Alternative Hip Hop
American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story is a diary; a saga of deeply personal entries covering sexuality, love, relationships, and acceptance. Above all, it’s a journey of self-discovery from an ambitious and steadily rising 20-year old from Corpus Christi. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, this buffet of genres, ranging from alternative rock to R&B to hip hop, showcases Kevin’s (born Ian Simpson) shift in direction to genres other than hip hop, previously showcased on his debut MTV1987.
Much like this year’s critically-praised Blonde, Abstract’s record also focuses on relationships, love, and gratification. Whereas Ocean’s sexuality is fully made known, Abstract’s expression is a bit less accepted. ““Can’t tell my family I’m bi, can’t tell my mother I’m gay, the hardest part of my day is wishing I was ***ing straight” he raps on “Papercut” over a Cranberries-esque guitar, choirs, and a jazzy cornet. It’s one of the many moments on this record where Abstract blends a multitude of genres into one cohesive song. The opener ‘Empty” is as pop as it gets, Abstract desperately asking his partner to stay (along with the conflicting ad-libs perfected throughout the track. “Tattoo” is more alt rock than it is R&B, as is “Yellow”; and “Echo” is pure orchestral R&B à la Channel Orange. In terms of styles, he isn’t changing or adding much. However, to cohesively blend this many genres, is impressive to say the least.
What really matters, however, is if Abstract feels, or has reached, any sort of gratification and acceptance – not just from his family but from everyone around him. It’s no surprise that homosexual African-American youth are one of the most overlooked, and heavily rejected, subcultures today, hell there’s an even a film to address this conflict. “I Do (End Credits)” finds him, in a very high pitched voice, proudly proclaiming “I ain’t sorry about shit motherfucker”! If anything, that’s indicative of Abstract reaching his own form of self -acceptance amidst the personal conflicts in his life. If anything, that’s all he needs; and one can only hope that he maintains, and never loses, that sense of clarity.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Empty, Seventeen, Yellow, Flintridge, Papercut, Miserable America, American Boyfriend,
LEAST FAV TRACK: Echo