Bringing new styles to hip-hop, BROCKHAMPTON is the new and extremely unique group in the music industry. (Image via Dazed)
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Bringing new styles to hip-hop, BROCKHAMPTON is the new and extremely unique group in the music industry. (Image via Dazed)

Believe the accuser. Sever ties. Move forward.

BROCKHAMPTON seemed unstoppable. The 14-member hip-hop boyband was piled with praise all throughout 2017. In just a short amount of time, they released three critically acclaimed albums, moved from their home in San Marcos, Texas, to Los Angeles, California, and amassed a huge online fan base.

Their values of inclusivity, collaboration and DIY attitude meshed perfectly with the online communities that supported them. They worked to blur the lines between pop and rap, queer and straight, and online and offline.

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On March 30, 2018, the group announced its record deal with RCA Records and were lauded as the next big thing in the world of hip-hop. Their music was boisterous, uninhibited and aggressively unique, exhibiting each member bringing their own influences and perspective. They were a tightly knit group of broken kids who broke into the world of record sales and labels through pure grit and passion.

On May 27, the group announced via Twitter that one of their founding members, Ameer Vann, would no longer be part of the group due to allegations of sexual and emotional abuse. Vann was one of the group’s most featured vocalists and the literal face of the group (Vann is on the cover of all three 2017 LPs). In the announcement, the group also declared a delay of their upcoming album, which was due in June, and the cancellation of their remaining U.S. tour dates.

Of course, this narrative is not new to America. In the last 10 months, there has been an endless carousel of powerful men, especially in the arts, being called out for their misconduct. In fact, it may have been this culture that made BROCKHAMPTON feel so safe — their populist spirit, lyrical honesty and social consciousness made them feel removed from the patriarchal poison that permeates the culture.

This safety made the allegations against Vann, which began to come out on Twitter in mid-May, sting even more. Vann’s actions, as alleged, feel like a betrayal. But in the churn of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, where allegations are all too often met with unsatisfactory consequences, the poise and patience that the members of BROCKHAMPTON and their record label demonstrated were admirable.

Their responses to these allegations were measured and fair, but they also did not let power or talent become an excuse for abusive behavior. Their handling of this issue is one of the most graceful our society has seen in these 10 turbulent months. Here are four of the main things that the group did correctly when dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct, all of which everyone should strive to emulate.

They Took Their Time

The first allegations that gained national attention were released on May 11 by Twitter user @GIGINOTHADID, who tweeted about the sexual and emotional abuse she experienced while dating Vann. A day later, another ex-girlfriend, who uses the Twitter handle @rhettrowan, added her stories of emotional manipulation and abuse along with a statement saying that Vann was having sexual relations with a minor.

All this evidence came out a full two weeks before the group officially responded, but with the amount of drama it was causing on social media, they most likely knew about it.

While it was frustrating to wait for a response for this long — two weeks is an eternity in internet time and must have felt much longer to the women who were brave enough to tell their stories — the group avoided a knee-jerk reaction that could have made the situation worse.

Too often in similar situations, friends and colleagues of the accused immediately come to their defense because they may not have seen the abuse themselves and may not be able to comprehend that someone they knew was capable of such actions.

At least one member of BROCKHAMPTON did fall into this trap, as shown on his personal Twitter account, but the party line seemed to be remaining silent until more information was gathered and a decision was made.

They Erred On the Side of Believing Victims

After two exes had come forward, Vann himself put out a response on Twitter saying that “although my behavior has been selfish, childish and unkind, I have never criminally harmed anyone or disrespected their boundaries.” Here, now that both he and his various partners had spoken out, his behavior became a he-said-she-said issue with no concrete evidence on either side.

The sad reality is that when sexual and partner violence occurs, there usually is a lack of evidence, and it comes down to trusting one party over the other, but it is always more prudent to believe the victims, especially when there are multiple.

Despite what online trolls may tell you, fake stories of abuse, especially the sexual variety, are very rare, and the bravery that it took for these victims to speak up should be testament enough to the veracity of their claims.

They Didn’t Let Power or Talent Get in the Way

Ameer Vann as the cover for BROCKHAMPTON’s album ‘Saturation ll.’ (Image via YouTube)

Removing Ameer Vann from BROCKHAMPTON was surely not an easy choice — being the most prominent member of the group, his removal will require changes in their upcoming album and general musical style.

In upcoming tours, they may have to rearrange their 2017 hits to remove his verses and, with his face on their three breakout albums, the topic will be unavoidable during press tours. In short, his removal will cause inconvenience and even a loss of talent, but the choice to remove him is a testament to placing morals above ease and material gain.

They Allowed Themselves to Mourn

In the group’s Twitter statement, they expressed their anger at Vann for not telling them the truth about his behavior and canceled the remainder of their tour to “go home and regroup.” An overlooked side effect of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements has been the increased awareness of abusers that everyday people have interacted with and respected.

Realizing that these people are not who they originally portrayed themselves to be is a very painful process, even if they have included references to their faults in their work.

Taking time to process and recover from this difficult news is necessary. Though the feelings of family and friends hardly compare to the pain of victims, taking time to heal is necessary for all involved, and BROCKHAMPTON’s choice to break off the tour is right if it allows them to find clarity.

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have shown our world the inherent messiness and difficulties when dealing with intimate forms of abuse. Though it was by no means perfect, BROCKHAMPTON’s handling of Vann’s behavior highlights a few best practices for these situations.

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Kylie Harrington

University of Southern California

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