The past week or so has been tainted with shock and disbelief from fans of “America’s favorite boyband” Brockhampton as one their lead rappers, Ameer Vann, was hit with allegations of abuse. Two women came forward on Twitter to describe their experiences of relationships with the rapper which they described as emotionally abusive and manipulative. It was also claimed that he engaged in a relationship with a minor as well as having pursued relationships with fans both of age and underage.
Ameer’s ex-girlfriend, Rhett Rowan, divulged details of her relationship which was ended after Ameer said he’d only been with her because he “wanted to control something.” In a twitter thread, she posted screenshots of messages from the then girlfriend of the ex-Brockhampton member, Titus Gilner, who noted that Ameer would “snap his fingers at [Rhett] when he wanted [her] to do things” to which Rhett would respond with fear. Rhett also said she could confirm that Ameer did, in fact, have a relationship with a minor prior to their own relationship in 2015. Twitter user ‘GIGINOTHADID’ also took to social media to slam Ameer for his behavior towards the woman. In her own thread, screenshots of messages from a victim (who wished to remain anonymous) were posted detailing how Ameer would give “daggers” to anyone that spoke to or looked at her.
Ameer Vann took to Twitter to release an apology in true cis male style – both apologizing for and denying abuse. His ex-girlfriend (who made public the abuse she suffered from him) wasn’t amused by what looked like a poor attempt at damage control as the band prepares for their fourth album, Puppy, to be released in the summer. Ex-Brockhampton member, Titus Gilner, also took to Twitter to defend Rhett and shame Ameer for his pathetic apology. He was a witness to the abuse suffered by Ms. Rowan and claims all other members were aware of Ameer’s behavior towards her yet did nothing. Whilst he made the effort to apologize to Rhett for his complicity and support her as she shares her story, the same could not be said for other members whose social media accounts all remain deactivated a week on from when the story went viral. Romil Hemnani even went so far as to unfollow Rhett on his private Instagram rather than reach out her. Meanwhile, his girlfriend (who’s been accused of racism for her numerous tweets including the n-word) took to Twitter to claim that fans should not waste time digging up negative things about the people they idolize. Instead, she seemed to suggest ignoring victims of abuse was a much better response and sadly some fans agreed with her as they attempted to attack the credibility of the multiple stories about Ameer.
The story coming to light has left many fans questioning how such a thing could have been allowed to happen within a boyband that so often claims to be a safe space, particularly for marginalized groups. Their songs have often been seen as a form of social activism as they discussed topics such as rape culture, homophobia, and racism. Yet, it seems that their efforts in music to talk about these issues may be superficial as the group appears to be unable to be men of the word. The sheer silence of all members disconfirms the belief that this boyband could really be free of any toxic masculinity as they were all so ready to continue to protect a male abuser over the victim they all saw being abused. Their inability to confront the issue in favor of maintaining hype for their next album simply discourages one from listening to the music they hope to put out.
However, the founder of Brockhampton – Ian Simpson AKA Kevin Abstract – recently resurfaced on social media to finally issue an apology for his and the other members’ silence. On an Instagram live Ian appeared tearful explaining his discomfort at people thinking he didn’t care about the situation. He claimed to have “never seen Ameer hurt anyone” and said all members held “each other accountable for anything, any mistake.” Ian went on to say that Ameer had been getting help over the past year and the pair had talked about the situation. The band will be pushing back the release of their album to supposedly give time to resolve the problem. The apology seemed to be invalidated by the fact Ian then went on to play a track from their new album which Ameer features on.
To make matters worse, the band’s manager – Jon Nunes – took to Twitter to completely disregard all the victims’ stories. In the now deleted tweets, he claimed that people should “stop downplaying actual abuse” as if to say that emotional abuse was not a real type of abuse. Despite Ameer having already having apologized for his behavior, Jon still felt it was necessary to claim that there was no evidence of the abuse even after multiple victims and witnesses had corroborated the stories.
The backlash for his tweets was huge with many fans calling him an abuser apologist. Titus Gilner took to the defense of victims saying that Jon ‘would joke a lot about the crazy ass sounds u would hear coming from Ameers room. this was a few years ago so I don’t remember exact words, but “I don’t ask because I really don’t want to know” was the [gist].’ A victim who came forward just the day before Jon began his verbal attack, Taylor Allard, claimed that his tweets were directed at her. In the story of her relationship with Ameer, she told of how her therapist had actually labeled her experience with him as abuse but chose to spare us the details.
After contacting Ms. Rowan she said she had no further comments to make but was grateful that people like me were siding with victims of abuse. In the era of #MeToo, one can only feel glad that herself and others felt able to finally tell their stories and expose male violence, whether physical or psychological, that plagues so many women. Whilst it’s ok to be hopeful that Ameer will improve himself so that he doesn’t behave as he did in these relationships, one should be careful not to assume that this completely absolves him of any guilt. The ability of some fans to so quickly turn on victims in favor of the person they idolize is saddening and disheartening for those who’ve suffered because of Ameer.
As of present, there appears to be no proof that Ameer really has changed especially as members of the band continue to try and protect him rather than hold him responsible. Apologies have been insincere and do nothing to help the victims to heal. We must continue to stand with victims of abuse and show them that they are not alone. We cannot allow them to be silenced by their lack of power in comparison to the internationally known boyband. Their suffering is valid and their voices deserve to be heard.