Describing themselves as the “greatest boyband”, the Texas-bred, LA-based group Brockhampton proved to be one of the most important acts of 2017.
Tackling race, sexuality, mental health, and masculinity in their music – sometimes in the same song – the group of rappers, singers, producers, and visual artists have solidified their place in the music industry with their phenomenal Saturation trilogy of albums.
Founded by Kevin Abstract in 2015, Brockhampton’s members mostly hail from across the United States. They met each other online – Abstract posted that he wanted to start a band on a Kanye West fan forum – and together they moved to San Marcos, Texas. Eventually they got fed up with the of the lack of opportunities around them and relocated to LA in 2016 to pursue their boyband dreams. The group sits between Odd Future and One Direction, a balance between soft and hard. But unlike the carefully manufactured 1D, they’ve made it a point to express their individuality – and unlike Odd Future, they’re moving together as a solid unit.
The collective is made up of 14 members, and in 2017 alone they released 48 songs across three albums (and that’s before taking solo projects, guest verses, productions into account). Comprising of Kevin Abstract, Ameer Vann, Merlyn Wood, Dom McLennon, Matt Champion, Joba, Bearface, Romil, Jabari, Kiko, HK, Ashlan Grey, Robert Ontenient, and Jon Nunes.
Each of the vocalists are capable of surprising with their contributions. One song might see vocalist, producer, and engineer Joba turn up sounding angelic, while another might see him screaming his lyrics into the mic. One track might see Abstract, who primarily sings and raps, take on co-production duties, while another might see the group’s dedicated director of photography Ashlan Grey make a cameo appearance during its bridge. A track might include Texan rapper Merlyn Wood with a refrain that’s catchy as hell, while another might feature a rare appearance from enigmatic singer and producer Bearface.
Romil, Jabari, and Kiko act as the group’s three main producers, though Joba and Bearface contribute to their instrumentals too. The final four members of Brockhampton aren’t always involved in the music, but each bring something important to the group regardless.
Nunes acts as their in-house manager, Ontenient is their web dude, Grey their director of photography, and HK their art director. Despite this, none of them have set roles, and it’s just one of the reasons they’ve managed to sound and look so fresh across so much material. They work surprising well together, even when they’re all doing something completely different.
With their fourth album Puppy on its way later this year, now’s the perfect time to get familiar with the self proclaimed “Greatest Boyband.”