Brockhampton are more than just a rap group. But then you didn’t need me to tell you that.
In fact, they’d probably rather you went by their given title: boyband. As a 15-strong crew of young men from hailing from the USA, they traverse race, orientation and creative approach in their quest for all-out domination. They’re succeeding at it too, by the way – the whole domination thing.
Last summer, they dropped three albums – the Saturation trilogy – in the space of six months, all to critical acclaim. Their songs, though genre-blurring bangers foremost, also deal with issues and themes that hip-hop (and, generally speaking, young males) traditionally avoid.In Saturation II’s ‘Junky’, Matt Champion delivers a blistering assault on toxic masculinity. In ‘2pac’ – taken from their debut – Ameer Van raps solemnly about addiction, mental health and grief. Meanwhile, founder and crew supremo Kevin Abstract regularly raps about being gay.
None of the above should be revolutionary, but in a hip-hop context it is. Moreover, the success with which Brockhampton do so – dealing with themes in their music in a way that both achieves nuance and avoids falling into the tokenistic – cannot be understated. They are, frankly, a marvel; a refreshing burst of technicolour energy adored by mainstream and specialist circles alike. It should come as no surprise that reports are claiming their record deal (they announced with RCA last week), is worth $15 million, covering a reported six albums over a three year period.
However, it really isn’t just about the music. After all, many of their official members don’t dabble in music at all. As the collective continue to rise (and rise, and rise), they do so in correlation with an army of devoted fans that more than match any other contemporary fandom – boyband or otherwise. Using their music as a platform, they’ve created a fully functioning, all-inclusive community. For a bunch of 20-year-old guys, it’s amazing. They traverse film and fashion with the ease at which they churn out critically acclaimed records.
On the subject of the latter, last week saw them share a Spring-Summer ’18 lookbook (pictures throughout) for their latest merch drop. Sure, bands doing clothes is nothing new, but their announcement – shot by Ashlan Grey and featuring members adorning apparel and accessories featuring branding such as ‘Team Effort’ and ‘Gay’ – felt more in line with an anticipated high-fashion editorial. Again, it’s hardly surprising that, two days since the drop, nearly everything is sold out.
According to the band, their next release – and fourth album – Puppy will be released this summer. If it’s anything like their first three ventures, we’re in for another joyous musical adventure. It’ll more than likely propel them further into the stratosphere, too. Brockhampton are more than just a rap group, but, of course, you didn’t need me to tell you that.
// Photos from Brockhampton’s Spring-Summer ’18 lookbook, taken by Ashlan Grey //
Join our club.
Words by HQ