Imagine barely coming out of high school wanting to form your own “boyband.” Imagine going to an online form to look for like-minded individuals to live in a house together just to make music. Later, you moved to South Central Los Angeles to create an album that will change all your lives. That is what Kevin Abstract, the founder of Brockhampton did. The risk he took led to heavy critical acclaim, a TV show on Viceland, and a future of endless possibilities.
Brockhampton is a group comprised of eclectics, social outcasts, college dropouts, and wayward individuals. It is not solely a group of musical artist but many have their hand in photography, videography, graphic design, etc. All of them, in a sense, are like-minded when it comes to the artistic freedom they want to display to the world. Kevin Abstract is the undisputed leader of the collective, who released his debut solo project, American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story last year. With this album, he expressed his sexual orientation to his fans by telling stories of both gay fantasies and realities. Abstract typically sings and raps, but on American Boyfriend, he did an awful lot of singing over somber rock instrumentation. It’s a head-dive into the conflicted life of a closeted teenager, that struck the culmination of a massive fan base for himself and Brockhampton. There are plenty of talented LGBT rappers today, such as Le1f, Azealia Banks, and Mykki Blanco, but none of them seem to have the choke-hold on the music industry that Abstract has currently. The album displayed a ton pop appeal that may seem foreign for other LGBT to have this type of limelight on them.
With the lack of projects, other members of Brockhampton have, it’s difficult to judge their individual talent level. One thing is for certain is that they have outstanding chemistry. Saturation is the collective’s debut album that flawlessly displays the upside of many of the artists in the group. You may have to look on Genius to see who is rapping, but their voices are so definitive, you’d be able to decipher who’s who by not doing any research. A perfect example is the song “Gold.” It’s a fast paced joy ride that will keep head nodding recklessly to the insane rapping patterns and brilliant hook. If you love fun rap songs with a hint of sensibility, this song is great for your introduction to the group. Another thing that is impressive to me on their first album is how that utilize auto tune. Their tactic isn’t extraordinary, but they are able to craft awesome melodies that will be stuck in your mind. The song “Fake” comes to mind.
As stated before, this group is not a barn of one-trick-ponies. Everything that relates to creative marketing, music videos, and production is almost entirely done by themselves. The convocation of so many talented individuals seems to be highly unlikely, but everyone has their own separate purpose and do not have to do anything they prefer not want to do in regards to the group. Henock Sileshi is their resident creative director and graphic designer who has also lent his talents to the likes of A$AP Ferg, Post Malone, and Taylor Gang. They have their own producers who produce entire Brockhampton projects. Robert Ontenient, Kiko Merley, Jabari Manwa, and Romil Hemnani. all are in house producers that craft an exciting and somewhat innovative sound that is definitive of the group. The crazy part is all or most of these people, including the rappers all live under one roof in South Central, Los Angeles.
Brockhampton doesn’t call themselves a hip-hop collective. They call themselves a boy band. It’s definitely not to be unique. They literally act and move like a boy band. Other than Kevin Abstract, we have talents like Matt Champion, Ameer Vann, JOBA, Bearface, Dom McLennon, and Merlyn Wood. Their all around chemistry is a lot more impressive than other groups, even current rap duos. Their personalities shine on their songs, which helps identify them. All the musicians except Dom McLennon (Connecticut) and Bearface (Ireland) are originally from Texas. Ameer Vann is by far the one with the most street cred; often rapping about former drug dealing days. Matt Champion’s voice is often used for bridge to bring songs to an optimum level. Merlyn Wood consistently gives off lively short verse to add needed energy. Dom McLennon is obviously the best rapper when it comes to technicality and wordplay. JOBA has a smooth, high pitched singing voice that is great for choruses (see Face). Bearface had a solo song on Saturation of him singing over beautiful guitar strings (Waste). Unfortunately, it seems like he is the most seldom used in the group.
Now, only a week after the first album dropped, Brockhampton is ready to give us their second LP of the year later this month called Sturation II. This is exciting for the fans and is sure to grant them more listeners. They released their second single for recently, the first one being “Gummy.” Listen below: