BROCKHAMPTON, a California based rap collective that prides itself on redefining the title “boy band,” emerged from the underground and into the mainstream this past year with their album trilogy Saturation. After the lukewarm success of their first project All-American Trash in 2016, BROCKHAMPTON resolved to command attention by “saturating” rap music with the release of three consecutive albums over the span of six months. BROCKHAMPTON’s charismatic and quirky vocal performances, experimental hip hop production, and fresh twist on a 90s grunge aesthetic have earned them both critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase. The content of their music is a refreshing addition to the current stagnant state of trap-rap; they tackle issues like homophobia, anxiety, depression, racism, and sexual assault. BROCKHAMPTON insists on calling themselves a boy-band because they want to contradict the notion that a boy band has to be White, traditionally attractive, heteronormative, media trained, and produce bubblegum music. BROCKHAMPTON is the antithesis of all of this, and their raw authenticity is the key to their success. As the buzz surrounding BROCKHAMPTON continues to grow, new listeners are surely wondering how did the collective come to be? Who is BROCKHAMPTON?
In 2014, the group’s founder Kevin Abstract proposed the idea of starting a band on “KanyeLive”, which was an online forum for Kanye West fans and creatives to interact. The group that came to be as a result was a large collective of rappers, singers, musicians, and producers who elected to call themselves AliveSinceForever. After their first project, the group sized down and rebranded under the name BROCKHAMPTON, which is the name of the street founder Kevin Abstract, grew up on. The name is a nod to several of the members’ Texas origins, and a reminder that music was their way out of Texas suburban life, which they associated with close-mindedness and lack of creative opportunity. BROCKHAMPTON first attracted buzz when they started releasing music in 2015 and then their first debut mixtape, All-American Trash in 2016. While this tape did not attract as much attention as the group had hoped, it was a crucial step for the development of their sound. In May 2017, BROCKHAMPTON released the first four singles of Saturation, “Face,” “Heat,” “Gold,” and “Star.” These four singles and their accompanying videos full of quirky, grungy visuals are what made BROCKHAMPTON the group to watch. Quickly capitalizing off of Saturation I’s success, BROCKHAMPTON released Saturation II in August. Saturation II proved that Saturation I was no mistake and that BROCKHAMPTON ascension to stardom was just beginning. In December 2017, BROCKHAMPTON released the final installment, Saturation III, the most successful installment both musically and commercially due to the smashing success of the crossover single “Bleach.” To culminate the Saturation Trilogy, BROCKHAMPTON embarked on their three month national “Love Your Parents Tour” in January. The tour added even more buzz to their brand as viral videos of their wildly energetic shows swept social media.
Who is BROCKHAMPTON?
Even more unexpected than the group’s origins might be its member composition: BROCKHAMPTON currently consists of 14 members. They all live together in a North Hollywood suburbian home they have nicknamed the “Factory”. The “Factory” is a fitting name because the group is completely self-sustained and pumps out consistent production, verses, music videos, social media content, and merch at a prolific rate. The group emphasizes that all members are equally valuable; there is no “star” as there tends to be in conventional pop boy bands. From vocalists to producers to photographers, everyone is a part of the “team effort.” Here is a quick guide on who’s who in rap’s most exciting creative collective: