BROCKHAMPTON is taking the nation by storm as one of the most thriving boy bands this generation has to offer. They debunk the stereotypes of what a boy band usually looks and sounds like by stressing the importance of representation.
BROCKHAMPTON is one of the first hip-hop groups to have openly gay and multiracial members. Rapper Kevin Abstract has a line from their song “JUNKY” that encompasses the importance of a band like BROCKHAMPTON flourishing:
“I do the most for the culture, n—, by just existing.”
Intersectionality and vulnerability bleed throughout the iconic boy band’s mentality like an open wound that refuses to heal. BROCKHAMPTON consists of 13 band members with a wide range of talents, including rappers, vocalists, creative directors, producers and managers.
BROCKHAMPTON started with founder Kevin Abstract, who met many of the future members through a Kanye West fan chat forum. The boy band’s members hail from all over the world, including Texas, Connecticut, Ireland and the Caribbean.
The influence that social media has on today’s youth has advanced the priority of the ego; it’s a space that seems to cater to self-absorption and focuses solely on the individual rather than supporting a collective well-being. BROCKHAMPTON is a refreshing shimmer of hope because their morals lie in stressing the importance of collaboration, diversity and alliance.
BROCKHAMPTON faced a great deal of controversy when former band member, Ameer, was accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. The other members of the band, shocked by the accusations, immediately kicked him out of the group and released a public statement apologizing to all the victims. Their fifth studio album, “GINGER,” is their rebirth from the past trauma and violence that was associated with their name. Many tracks on “GINGER” reflect a lack of spiritual guidance.
The track “NO HALO” has an angelic acoustic guitar that carries the beat of the song, creating a desire for levitation amidst darkness and chaos. On the chorus, feature Deb Never delivers vocals that seem to echo in your head long after the impact of the words has dissipated. Meryln Wood and Matt Champion accompany her on the hook, singing, “I’m sure I’ll find it. No one help me when my eyes go red.”
These lyrics reflect a state of abandonment and hopelessness — an intuition that whatever supreme being is watching over is complacent in letting them crash. Wood, who usually delivers the most rambunctious energy on a track with silly bars that make any BROCKHAMPTON song more playful, is instead incredibly mellow. Hearing Wood sound so lifeless as he raps indicates that he is releasing all the emotion he has left into the song.
He raps, “Do I matter? I’m ecstatic, I’m depressed. I’m more like God’s special mess, never had no halo. Trippy, I can barely hike it out of bed — options, running out of options.”
Wood’s vulnerability is a side of him that he has rarely exposed. His inability to withstand the swift complexities and changes of his emotions, paired with a lack of certainty that anyone — especially God — is watching out for him, is captivating. “GINGER” has an energetic yet somber tone, mastering the relation between frustration and therapeutic self-expression.
The track “BOY BYE” is produced by members Kiko Merley, Romil Hemnani and Jabari Manwa. On the surface, the song is uplifting and relatively positive. “BOY BYE” has a Caribbean influence on the beat, and thickly plucked strings pirouette in the background, creating an image of a ship about to go overboard. Although the track is sonically upbeat, hidden within the words are deep personal testimonies in which different members tackle mental health struggles and past wounds.
Each member’s flow is hypnotizing as their lyricism rides the gentle xylophone in the background. Their tone of voice suggests euphoria, although the exhibition of inner disturbance is lurking under the shadows. Dom McLennon kicks off the song.
He raps: “Everybody ask me how I deal with depression. Man, look, man I don’t got the answer to your question. If I did, you’d probably never hear from me again. That’s a promise not a threat, it ain’t no half stepping. I wrote a new constitution. We don’t need amending.”
In an interview with Genius, McLennon speaks on the innovation behind creating a juxtaposition of a track that is both carefree and emotionally unguarded.
“I wanted to do something that had the playfulness of a song like ‘Gucci Gang’ with the seriousness of a song like ‘All Falls Down’ — but ‘All Falls Down’ has this playful self-consciousness to it. It’s not too serious to the point where you can’t play it at a cookout, but also what he is talking about is entirely thorough with his insecurities.”
The essence of BROCKHAMPTON is their heightened versatility and unapologetic attitude toward self-expression. “GINGER” is a resurrection from past trauma and a dedication to the brotherhood BROCKHAMPTON has created. Trust acts as a tool, enabling them to rely on one another throughout life and the creative process.
The track “DEARLY DEPARTED” acts as a soliloquy toward releasing thoughts on the impact losing Ameer had on the group. It also tackles a sense of universal loss — loss of one’s self and loved ones. The beat is incredibly ominous and haunting, letting the words stand alone in kinship.
McLennon raps, “How many sides to a story can there be when you saw it with your own eyes? When somebody throws you in the fire, how do you survive? I kicked down a door inside a home I didn’t own just to save a friend’s life. You pass the weight off to your friends and never face the truth because you never learned how to be a man.”
The recollection of the betrayal and anguish that Ameer left on the group marinates in the air like the burn of a campfire. BROCKHAMPTON relies on the unity of the family they have cultivated in order to surpass emotional trauma, loss of faith and grief. “GINGER” ends with the track “VICTOR ROBERTS.” This song was reserved for a non-BROCKHAMPTON member to tell his story.
Victor Roberts happens to be a close friend to many members of BROCKHAMPTON. McLennon spoke in an interview on the story behind the track and the necessity of taking full advantage of the platform you have as an artist.
“He didn’t have the means to take the time to record or work on his own music because of a family situation. His mom has dementia and his father just retired. He came to the house in May and was like I have this thing I want to show you. He shows me this rap and halfway through it I’m like pulling my f—ing hair out. We need to do something with this immediately. This is your story.
“I want to help you tell it. I did everything in my power and all of my bandmates were gracious enough to allow him to have the opportunity to close the album out with his story. I think that’s one of the most important things you can do as an artist is to pass the f—ing mic sometimes.”