Written by Braden Swanson
What is something you swore you would never say? As a six-year varsity athlete, connoisseur of rap and rock, and 17-year-old boy, I never thought I would say this: I’m in love with a boy band. But let me explain this boy band to you. Brockhampton is more than a music collective. They aren’t a rap group, tabernacle choir, barbershop quartet or “classic boy band”. They’re a team of multiple different backgrounds and stories. 14 men who have turned a few friends rhyming, into the future of music. You may think that ‘future of music’ is a bold statement, but it is easily backed up. Seven months, three full length albums, 48 tracks, 12 music videos, and a full United States winter tour, with plans for a worldwide tour underway. Pitchfork has ranked their first three albums as a 6.5, 7.2, and 7.5, respectively. One Direction earned 4/5 stars after 3 years of music making. Brockhampton has nearly done that within 7 months.
Before reading the rest of this article, I urge you to stop now. Put on their music: “Star”, “Gummy”, “Rental”, “Boogie”, and “Lamb” are iconic tracks.
This band is interesting, to say the least. Despite everything that’s wrong with the music industry and, to be honest, America in general, here is some light — a sign of a bright future. The result of several genres a mile apart coming together. BH is unsigned, which is surprising for having their third album peak at #15 on the billboard. They film all of their videos and create all the art in their house. They also take turns recording songs in the closets and in their rooms.
This attracted me because it reminds me of so many great things that we have in life. Brockhampton followed their dreams and they work for respect. Day and night, everyday, nonstop. They are from Texas to California, and moved away from their families with no backup plan. All they needed were their friends and their dreams. So many people let their ambitions die because they don’t want to take the risk and fail. Brockhampton is the product of risk.
I can’t explain this anomaly. One cannot possibly understand them without listening to them. Think about having NSYNC and N.W.A make music together. Its unorthodox. BH lets it make sense. They create music. They don’t just rap, or sing, or rock. They do all three, but they do more than that. They use the term “boy band” because it’s the only word that doesn’t put limits on them. Fourteen BOYs in a BAND. Boy-Band.
Kevin Abstract is the leader of the band, but not the key component. The first three things you will find out about Kevin is: he’s gay, black, and from Texas. It’s perhaps an unexpected combination, which is fitting for the group. Yet Kevin can spit a sweet sixteen on” Junky” and then harmonize like Justin Timberlake on “Lamb”. Ameer Van is another face of Brockhampton. An African American who grew up in poverty and was called the n-word at school, who sold drugs because he couldn’t get any other jobs. Merlyn Wood can be described as a hype-man. He raps about silly stuff but also talks about more serious topics, like being one of the only minorities in his college. Matt Champion is one of the members who you can tell had a rough life, but knows how to enjoy the moment. Matt vocalizes relationships that he has messed up in and raps about leaving his home to chase a dream. Matt is another piece of this puzzle that can really speak to anyone and also, I would say, is one of the most impressive lyricists in the group. Brockhampton so far is a bunch of rappers who like to sing, but what really gives them that feel of being a boyband is one certain individual. His name is Bearface. Bearface is a vocalist and producer for BH who was born in Northern Ireland. Bearface has a voice that would impress Harry Styles, or Justin Timberlake; It certainly impressed myself. There are many more vocals to the group, but the one I have to recognize is Joba. Joba is an undefined wildcard that never fails to satisfy. He has a very impressive vocal range, but he also goes nuclear on tracks. He is the backbone and the flare behind Brockhampton.
Conformity to the status quo is very against the idea of hip-hop, yet often so heavily forced. Every artist in BH has cited Tyler, the Creator, as their biggest influence. Tyler has a style of going-against-the-status-quo that breaks barriers — a role model for myself and so many other students and people in the world. His against-the-grain ideas have gotten him into trouble, yet because of him we have Brockhampton. A band with six black people, four white people, two Indians, and two Asians. Sexuality is all over the board. The lead vocalist is gay, yet he lives in a house with a bunch of dudes. They function just the same, no matter his sexual orientation. BH may be a nightmare for some people but it is, after all, a very diverse group of people.
I am a part of the new generation. We are not Millennials, nor Baby Boomers, nor Generation X. I look up to the millennials; they understand me more than a bunch of 40-year-old rappers who are obsessed with drug dealing, gang banging, and disrespect. I don’t adore Brockhampton because they are a bunch of rappers; I adore them because they are like me. They are a bunch of college-aged kids who followed their dreams. I hear them sing about rape culture, sexuality, drug abuse, and achieving one’s goals. If I’m being honest, I feel understood when I listen. In closing words, Brockhampton is a band. But it’s also a movement. It is a movement to change the culture and inspire the youth. Dreams die young, so follow them before you get old.