Kevin Abstract’s album ARIZONA BABY reveals who he is through soul-striking songs


Kevin Abstract, a solo artist and one of the fourteen members of Brockhampton, walked on a treadmill for ten hours straight.

Ten hours.

There, he fielded questions, signed autographs, and accepted McDonald’s all in persistent promotion for his latest solo album: ARIZONA BABY.

Before this ten-hour live stream, Abstract—whose actual name is Ian Simpson—was non stop tweeting about the upcoming album, building my excitement. Leaking a few songs early, his tweets garnered my attention as I patiently awaited what I expected to be an emotion-rich, beautifully developed album.

When the album dropped at 12 am, I pressed play and knew I was getting exactly what I had wished for; the wait, full of tantalizing teasers from Abstract himself and powerful tweets, was finally over.

The song “Big Wheels” began.

Released earlier with two others, “Big Wheels” instantly became one of my favorite songs Abstract has put out. Immediately, it starts with a fast-paced beat and quick, choppy words that are perfectly pronounced to stay on beat. His quick words flow smoothly like a cascading river of whatever is on his mind. Yet, as he does so, you can hear the power in them as he talks about disappointing people, his mom working at Sonic, and people being complacent in life.

Then, after a little under a minute into the one minute and 36-second song—short but sweet—Abstract’s voice fades out, and just the beat and an instrumental are left, shocking me. The song is just so stunning. Every sound, every beat, every instrument played makes a beautiful medley of noise, concocted by Abstract.

After just one minute of music, I knew he had once again made a staggering, emotional album.

Track two, “Joyride,” follows “Big Wheels,” and to be honest, the very beginning of this song makes me feel as if Macklemore is about to start speaking. Abstract’s lyrics, however, greet my ears and invite me into the masterpiece of his album.

Once again, the beat is quick with what sounds like trumpets overpowering the rest. It reminds me of summer. Everything about “Joyride” makes me feel some sort of way. It’s as if I’m on the edge of my seat, but I’m not nervous, I’m just content. I’m content when I hear him talk about finding what he loves. I’m content as the chorus plays. I’m content as a smile spreads across my face after he talks about his boyfriend and family supporting him.

Every sound in this song makes me buzz with fuzzy, ominous purple contentment.

Abstract was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, so he dedicates track four to his hometown as it is respectively named “Corpus Christi.” Compared to the others, this song is relatively slower as he begins to talk about his “boys”—the members of Brockhampton—and how he faces his insufferable loneliness.

Paying attention to the lyrics, something that Abstract has put so much time into, he speaks of being called slurs for being gay, disappointing his aunt, and he speaks on everyone in his life. Admitting in his tweets that this album took a lot of his emotions, that it is utterly raw, Abstract touches on topics that reside deep inside him, using music as his medium to accept and deal with these things.

Mentioning the drama around Ameer Vann—a member of Brockhampton that was asked to leave after allegations came to light—and his sister, the emotions on this slower song prove how outstandingly brilliant he is, using music as his therapy.

Heading all the way to “Crumble,” track ten, I am instantly hit with another slower song with lyrics that remain so lachrymose as he talks about crumbling outside someone’s window. His words hit hard as he remains on tempo; staying in rhythm, everything he speaks about is amplified as higher pitched vocals of him singing play over the beat.

Yet again, surprising no one by this point, this particular song makes me breathe. It makes me slow down, think, and just breathe, something I think everyone should do once in a while to just remember what being human means.

Once again relating back to his childhood, the final and eleventh track is named “Boyer” after Abstract’s childhood best friend. Coming in at just under two minutes, this song picks up the pace, leading the way towards the end with a more technical beat accompanied with a mixture of drums and occasional high pitched noises.

In this song, he faces the fact that he can’t “run forever” and that he has to “learn [his] lesson.” Confronting this realization isn’t easy, and Abstract vocalizes that as he bridges into fighting his depression and demons as he takes pills to just simply sleep. Diving into the issue, he mentions that his loneliness referenced on his Twitter and other songs comes from making his “loved ones turn their back” on him. How deep yet simple Abstract becomes on this song bumps it up as one of my favorites for how much of him you can find in his sincere words.

The theme of finding him in those words, in his music, is what makes ARIZONA BABY a work of art, of emotion, of raw human. Abstract uses his music in an unparalleled way as he brings everything within him to the outside world.

It just proves that someone who runs for ten hours on a treadmill makes nonpareil music because, for a total of 32 minutes, I feel fuzzy inside due to Abstract’s brilliance shining through every second.

And I really, really like it.