Brockhampton may not be your typical American boyband, but you will address them as such. Led by 20-year-old Texan-born Kevin Abstract, Brockhampton is a product of 90s kids growing up in the age of the internet, where meeting like-minded individuals you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to are but a click away. Connecting via Kanye West fan forum kanyetothe.com, the boys bonded through a shared deep-rooted love for Yeezy, but more importantly it was a star aligning discovery of mutual talent and musical chemistry way beyond the digital world.
On Saturation II, its original’s sequel, the self-proclaimed boyband represent a new generation for the cliche label; one that doesn’t necessarily have to fit the typical criteria to be considered valid. Saturation II is an endless stash of pop-ridden, usually Kevin-sung hooks, equally distributed rap verses each playing their own role, a progressive narrative and teenage resonance that leaves no such trace of sugar coating. The only missing piece to Brockhampton’s boyband complex is a panel of judges and manufacturing label, none of which they needed to become their own version of a popstar.
Kevin’s LGBT narrative is a common topic on the album, executed through a stream of conscious, candid journal-style rap in a plea to normalise rappers speaking on being gay and eliminate the shock factor surrounding sexuality in hip hop. On ‘Jesus’ Kevin raps about a failed relationship over a wistful piano beat, blaming his star sign for their incompatibility and comparing himself more to the likes of pop singer Troye Sivan than a dominant hip hop artist like Drake. ‘Junky’ takes a darker and more confronting turn. Kevin’s fury is palpable when he raps “Why you always rap about bein’ gay?” Cause not enough n*ggas rap and be gay’, his narrative is challenging and unforgiving, filling a massive representation void for hip hop.
‘Junky’ also beholds a moment of brilliance for Matt Champion, who’s feisty closing verse is the boldest he’s ever spat, and his verse is literally just him yelling at lame dudes to learn how to respect women. Champion’s assertive “I hate these shady folk that want a lady like/but don’t treat lady right”, and “Where the respect? Is your ass human? Respect my mother, respect my sister, respect these women boy”, is a real refresher to hear from a young rapper, who doesn’t doesn’t appease to the pressure of coming across vulgar in order to sound hard. Ameer Van is another stone cold standout voice, flexing high impact and intimidation upon command. Some of his best moments appear on air slicing recounts of facing injustice growing up a black kid in Texas on ‘Teeth’ and ‘Fight’.
With a string of 2000s top 40 R&B and the millenial rappers, each kid grew up around the same time absorbing (think Tyler, the Creator, Kanye) this genius formula that makes Brockhampton’s sound so nostalgically familiar to a generation of 90s babies, but with a refreshing edge and contemporary perspective that mainstream hip hop has yet to cross over. Their current consistency is untouchable by anyone else of their game, and with strength in numbers, each of its 17 members are redefining what it means to be a boyband and challenging a perception of masculinity. Brockhampton are definitely Southside’s answer to One Direction, and they might even just be the best boyband of all time.
Words: Laura McInnes