Within the past three years, the members of indie hip-hop collective Brockhampton have cemented themselves as trailblazers of dissolving genre barriers and relating to their audience on a profoundly human level. While the musical act has not yet been properly examined under the lens of academic popular music criticism, I strive to explore the ascent, emotional resonance, and cultural significance of Brockhampton as a sociological study.
In the state of music today, “virality” and the do-it-yourself movement have overwhelmed the traditional methodologies of music business and production. Brockhampton stormed the mainstream music scene in the summer of 2017 as the poster children of these two modern trends of musical recognition.
Brockhampton defines themselves as the modern “American boy band” (Kochhar). After meeting as teenagers and young men in Texas — in high school and on a Kanye West message board — the group assembled to become a 13-strong team of rappers, vocalists, producers, and designers. Kevin Abstract is the founder and designated leader of the group, and he leads the group to expand their creative boundaries. Rather than promoting themselves as simply a group of rappers or even a boy-band, Abstract and his fellow members strive for Brockhampton to become a brand of sorts, “finding form as an entirely independent creative agency and record label, as much as it is as a thriving musical group with diehard fans across the country” (Kochhar). Brockhampton explored their sound while crafting their debut mixtape, All-American Trash, in March 2016, but their true breakout didn’t occur until the unforgettable summer of 2017.
I discovered Brockhampton during that very summer, as many other fans did during the release of their Saturation trilogy, and their music became the soundtrack of my senior year. Saturation I was fresh, boisterous, and added new youthful energy, balancing tenderness with angst, to the state of rap in 2017. Brockhampton introduced themselves to the mainstream with not only an original sound, but also a cultural voice and style, steering their popularity through the ‘bandwagon effect’ of promotion through social media and “viralness.” I was a teenager on Twitter, relying on my trusted friends also on Twitter to curate quality music for me to listen to, and soon enough, Brockhampton was on my list of up-and-coming indie acts. The first impression I conceived of Brockhampton was the music video for their Saturation II single “GUMMY,” a chaotic heist movie crammed into the four-minute song, riffing off the critiques their rap personas had received in their past months of mainstream fame. That summer, Brockhampton made themselves a household name with their frequent music videos to accompany the critically acclaimed Saturation trilogy, totaling 16 videos for the year. All of these videos are just as bold, hectic, and creative as “GUMMY,” and combined to construct a united creative vision of the collective. Their music video for “GOLD” off of Saturation I boasts 13 million views as of March 2020, and all other videos from the trilogy have a minimum of 2 million views.
Going along with their fashion of marketing themselves, Brockhampton partnered with Viceland, the television channel owned by Vice Media and under the creative direction of filmmaker Spike Jonze, to create their own show, “American Boyband” in June 2017. The programming of Viceland is aimed towards trendy millennials, putting comedic and relatable voices at the forefront of their branding, such as Action Bronson, Ellen Page, Eddie Huang, and Zack Fox. On Amazon Prime, the show’s description reads: “Kevin Abstract wants to be a pop star. Along with his self-proclaimed boy band ‘Brockhampton’ he is on a mission to translate his faithful online following into real world success.”
In his New York Times article, “How a New Kind of Pop Star Stormed 2018,” Jon Caramanica notes that the genre of “pop music” as we know it has shifted dramatically in the past few years. What used to be the charismatic, cheery, ‘bubblegum’ sound of pop is now just a subgenre of popular music, while hip-hop and rap music have surpassed the competition in widespread success. Hip-hop is the new pop, and Brockhampton has certainly profited from this. After their 2018 album Iridescence premiered at number one on the Billboard charts, Complex reported that “of the 101,000 equivalent album units, 79,000…were album sales” (Price). This corresponds with Caramanica’s contention that while hip-hop dominates streaming, it has fallen behind in album sales. To further emphasize this, one week after its release, Iridescence had accumulated “28.2 million on-demand audio streams” (Price).
In only a year, Brockhampton faced an exciting decision in their careers: would they remain independent or sign onto a major record label? Even with the success and fame achieved from their releases of summer 2017, Brockhampton had yet to earn a radio hit, not to mention the controversy that arose with member Ameer Vann. In May 2018, Vann was accused by several women of sexual abuse and misconduct. Up until this point, Vann had been marketed as “one of the group’s most popular members and the face of the Saturation trilogy’s album covers” (Holmes), so the band faced a crossroads of avoiding defamation or sticking to what they knew. Just a few weeks later, Brockhampton announced their removal of Vann from the group, and soon thereafter signed a $15 million record deal with RCA, signifying an extreme shift in their career and rebirth of their image.
As a fan, the major difference between Brockhampton’s independent releases — All-American Boyband and the Saturation trilogy — and their releases under RCA — Iridescence and Ginger — is reception. Although the production on their latest two albums, including their accompanying music videos, has become more fine-tuned than the gritty introduction to the band, Brockhampton has maintained an authentic, do-it-yourself image in their music-making process by keeping their team together, including their long-time producers Romil Hemnani, Jabari Manwa, and Kiko Merley. While their trademark sound and lyricism has remained a constant in their rise to the pop mainstream, Brockhampton now had the music industry connections necessary to achieve broader radio and streaming success, which was confirmed when their Ginger single “SUGAR” peaked at #66 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 2020 (billboard.com).
Still, not everything is easy for a trending band in 2020 due to the imbalanced music industry approach to earnings distribution. Since hip-hop is now primarily reliant on streaming success as described by Caramanica, and streaming platforms such as Spotify are notorious for their refusal to decrease the “value gap” between song streams and artists’ earnings (Bershidsky), Brockhampton is one of many musicians to focus on live performances as a key revenue stream. The first time I saw Brockhampton live was in January 2020, fresh off of their Saturation fame, in the mid-sized Aztec Theatre in San Antonio, TX. This was a part of the “Love Your Parents” tour, their second nationwide tour as a band. Since then, they’ve been touring nationwide and worldwide almost constantly, supporting Bershidsky’s claim that the paycheck from streaming for musicians is simply not enough to survive. Brockhampton has also greatly utilized festival runs as a portion of their tours, as I have seen their festival performances twice — Austin City Limits 2018 and Bonnaroo Festival 2019. By getting high billing on the lineup as trending artists in the pop and hip-hop scene, Brockhampton attracts a younger, festival-going audience to discover them through their theatrical, brief yet high-energy sets. However, the band has addressed their uncertainty with the oversaturation (excuse the pun) of constant touring in their lyricism, such as in Kevin Abstract’s solo release “Corpus Christi,” where he motions, “At what point do I do it for myself / Instead of thinking ’bout the set?”
Brockhampton is a perfect example of the ever-changing music industry in regards to virality and promotion. In just the past year, the video-creation platform Tik Tok has taken over pop culture for Generation Z. Beyond dance trends and funny content, the app has presented a fascinating new form of music discovery, and within the time period of Brockhampton’s release of Ginger in August 2019 to now, their song “SUGAR” has surpassed the popularity in streaming of all of the album’s lead singles simply by being featured as a trending Tik Tok sound to use in videos. Already, Brockhampton has been quietly adjusting some aspects of their trademark branding to appeal to this rapidly present younger audience, such as filming a new, more viewer-friendly music video for “SUGAR,” to partner with the song’s original video of a more explicit and unorthodox storyline.
Brockhampton presents themselves as a creative, inclusive, and authentic alternative to the traditional, “factory-produced” boy-band in pop music. While the decision to remove Ameer Vann from the group forced their hand towards a more reflexive and transparent image towards fans, Brockhampton has maintained a stiff control over their interactions with the music industry and production process to streamline their own social media marketing, fanbase creation, and overall brand as a collective.
Brockhampton’s priority of control extends from their brand to their music, producing songs with an undeniably human touch. With Saturation II, Brockhampton pushes us to look beyond the typical analysis of rap lyrics and consider the entire narrative and creative arc of their production. As Tricia Rose explains in Black Noise, “rap relies heavily on oral performance, but it is equally dependent on technology and its effects on the sound and quality of vocal reproduction” (Rose 55). Structured into vignettes on the members’ past, present, and future perspectives, the storytelling process of Saturation II has lyrics co-star with the mood evoked in the listener.
The scene of the past is set with a flourish, as the sampled “Star Against the Night” lullaby by Veronica Petrucci rises as dreamlike as a Disney melody. However, from the soothing initial twinkles to the rounded and bright orchestral climax, tension is building in the hearts of listeners. The only possible resolution for such a rule-bending collective as Brockhampton is to tear down this beautiful mask. An aching buzz interrupts the dream, signifying the group’s harsh vision of the past. No matter how much the past can be idealized or romanticized, reality sucks.
The opening five songs of Saturation II pass swiftly, leaving you breathless and excitable as intended. While these pieces may seem like pleasing cut-and-paste formulas of your average hip-hop or pop streaming hits, Brockhampton’s tight production offers much to analyze. The collective has several producers that all projects go through, adding their personal spins on the established feisty sound of Brockhampton. A trademark sound has emerged as the group has followed in the footsteps of hip-hop’s founding producers, choosing to “deliberately work in the red” zones of distortion and volume (Rose 75). Reminiscent of classic rock, punk, metal, and beyond, distortion lends a hand to Brockhampton’s chaotic and disobedient image. For instance, on “JELLO,” the blaring, happy-go-lucky hook of the song — “La-di-da-di-da-di-da, do I trust ’em? Probably not” — rings similarities to an uncontrollable crowd of children on the playground, only highlighted further through the producer’s choice to speed up all of the song’s vocals. Volume and distortion on “JELLO” portrays frenzy: an illustration of the past as fleeting, memories of childhood as increasingly distant. The songs of Brockhampton become a symbolic rise and fall of production, juxtaposing the claustrophobic, hopelessly loud moments to their opposite warm or lonely silences. Mark Dery and Bob Doershuk explain hip-hop production’s emphasis on pure volume as an effort to “preserve the urgency of rap at its rawest” (Rose 75), yet for Brockhampton, it seems to be the fighting ends of the spectrum of noise that define their rawness.
One of the most poignant productions of the album occurs in the first section: the track “TEETH.” Rapper Ameer Vann solos on his experiences growing up and becoming aware of racial tension as a young black boy, painting himself as a “project baby, a free lunch felon.” A shallow chorus of altos introduces the song’s haunting minor arrangement, eventually guiding in Vann’s gritty recollections and a light horror-movie soundscape to round out the immersion of the song. “TEETH” is the musical representation of resentment as an emotion — feeling held back and simply angry at your situation. In his popular music studies ur-text, On the Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche unpacks the creativity of “ressentiment,” as the “release of emotions is the greatest attempt of relief” (Nietzsche 99). Vann’s “TEETH” is an ideal example of anger in music as not only storytelling, but as an effort to “anaesthetize pain through emotion,” (Nietzsche 99) allowing the bitterness and weakness he feels inside to be centered in the song. With the line, “If you’re shooting for the stars, you’re only headed one way,” Vann positions a Nietzsche-inspired question for listeners as to whether hard work can lead to success — acting to escape this emotional weakness — or if the hardships of life are unavoidable.
The first transition through time on Saturation II takes place with “SCENE,” a Spanish spoken-word interlude by Brockhampton producer and web designer Robert Ontenient. Known affectionately by fans as “Roberto” through his several guest appearances in Brockhampton music videos, Ontenient muses on two of life’s greatest pleasures and mysteries in his two interludes: love and faith. In “SCENE,” Roberto addresses a yearning poem to a past lover, symbolizing the album’s shift from past to present. He longs,
“I wish I could see you like before.
Lying together, seeing who would fall asleep first.
I’d like to repeat it.
I miss you, I love you.
Piece of shit.”
Roberto feels an undeniable and unending connection to this love, yet rather than simply asking for his partner back, he struggles with the decision of whether to “repeat” the relationship, or rather, the past, or continue moving forward. The listener must decide at this point in the album as well whether they will continue on to the second grouping of more intense, thoughtful songs in the “Present” portion of Saturation II.
The present arrives with the harsh strum of a single bass note on “TOKYO” — a blank canvas, untouched by the unappealing, tumultuous past. Distortion leaves but volume remains as a hyper Joba sounds off, “Too many things I’d rather do different / Woke up in a cold sweat” alongside the lull of a sliding bass note rising in pitch. The past may be gone, but Joba, as any other human, cannot escape his regrets. As hinted previously regarding the production of Saturation II, it is necessary in analysis to pay sharp attention to the clear gaps in sound on the album. Hip-hop is a genre rooted in rhythm and beats — as explained in “Black Noise,” “rap producers construct loops of sound and then build in critical moments, where the established rhythm is manipulated and suspended” (Rose 67) — yet Brockhampton chooses to employ non-traditional structures of beat in several of their productions. In “TEETH,” “JESUS,” “SUNNY,” and the intro of “TOKYO,” there is an obvious, almost disconcerting lack of full instrumentation. Brockhampton wants their listeners to be left in the quiet of their own breathing — shocked at their familiarity and comfort with the group’s usual noise.
At the midpoint of Saturation II, the fast-moving present pauses itself for a tender moment of self-reflection. “JESUS,” track eight of sixteen, seems to call back on the romantic relationship of “SCENE,” still missing a former lover and realizing that it’s hopeless to attempt to distract from or escape your past. The main significance of this song to Saturation II’s motif of growth is clear with the closing vocals of Bearface, the pseudonym of Brockhampton member Ciarán McDonald, notably the singer’s first appearance on the album thus far. Against the backdrop of the song’s melodic piano chord progression, Bearface’s clear vocals erupting from the monotone rapping of Kevin Abstract is almost angelic, elevating the piano chords to a state of near fantasy similar to the album’s opening on “GUMMY.” Bearface is the voice of romanticism on the album, with just as much intensity and grit as his rapping counterparts, yet a spark of soul and humanity to fill in the blanks where pure emotion is needed.
In Roland Barthes’ The Grain of the Voice, the “grain” in question for a singer is described as “the materiality of the body speaking its mother tongue” (Frith 295), further dissected to mean the trace of humanity behind an otherwise emotionally-masked performance. Most artists sing or rap their lyrics — the “pheno-song” — but Bearface lets his musical expression showcase the “geno-song” of his featured pieces. His approach to “JESUS” is surprisingly technical, considering his lackluster, Morrissey-inspired vocal timbre; he springboards between the pitches of his overture, enunciating leading syllables with a crispness and strength comparable to the traditional use of solfege (i.e. Do-Re-Mi and so on) in choral arrangements, emphasizing the importance of this melody instead of the words being sung. His flow is not unlike the rappers of Brockhampton, following close behind in anticipation of every piano chord, chasing his inner thoughts as they arrive. In this sense, Bearface offers himself as the ever present conscience of Brockhampton’s actions and emotions, centering the group in their current state of being. By the end of Bearface’s performance in “JESUS,” the singer has wholly achieved Barthes’ apex of “jouissance,” or satisfaction to the listener: “the diction is dramatic, the pauses, the checkings and releasings of breath, occur like shudders of passion” (Frith 295-296).
The present of Saturation II concerns itself with experience, specifically as Brockhampton reacts to being under the critical eye of the mainstream. The song pairing of “CHICK” and “JUNKY” revolves around self-consciousness of being in the spotlight transforming into assuredness. The former track plays off the collective’s trademark boisterous energy, portraying the present swagger of Brockhampton from achieving success. Ameer Vann, critiqued for his repetitive content when rapping, fights back, “Imma be a star even if I say the same things.” Where the lyrical content of “CHICK” portrays their experiences separately from the musical content, “JUNKY” marries the spoken inner demons of each rapper with an oscillating instrumental, almost like counting down to the daunting end of the song. Kevin Abstract raps with a steady tone yet frantically, rushing the beat to seem faster, as if rushing through the present to get to the upcoming future. In his opening verse, Abstract recounts his experiences with homophobia growing up and self-imposed obligation to represent black gay men in rap music. In a related vein of intention, Matt Champion narrates his deadly disapproval of ‘rape culture,’ commanding, “Respect my mother, ‘spect my sister, ‘spect these women, boy.” Although both Abstract and Champion’s verses on “JUNKY” carry heavy thematic material, the pair insists that their music is purely experiential: “We’re not a political group, we’re just a real group…what’s real to us and what affects us as people…get it off my chest and see if anyone else feels the same way” (MTV News).
From the struggles of the past, to the growth of the present, Saturation II has finally reached the transcendence of the future. A familiar musical scene of a raucous crowd fills in the gaps of Roberto’s delicate voice in “SCENE 2.” Rather than look back on his regrets as “SCENE” just five tracks earlier, Roberto has reached a turning point of forgiveness — for himself and those around him. “SCENE 2” turns to faith as a marker of acceptance for the impending future, as Roberto prays for the safety of his family. His prayer is undoubting in his God, asking Him to “Go before them and prepare their path / If their path is twisted, I beg you to straighten it.” Roberto has grown to be thankful for his life, and puts his future fully in the hands of God, fate, or whatever else may guide him.
The future is foreign on “FIGHT,” with a hazy duet plucked on string instruments — the Middle-Eastern sitar and oud if I was to guess — and a lack of percussion to ground the listener. The future is a dream, but it is unclear whether this dream is good or bad, as the second half of the song climbs into the claustrophobic chaos of “working in the red” of volume and distortion once again. This climactic moment is followed by a continuation of mischief in “SWEET,” a classic Brockhampton radio hit to show off the technical strengths and infectious personalities of each member. The shining moment of the song, however, is with rapper Joba as he gloats to past teachers that said he wouldn’t get anywhere in life. The lighthearted verse plays a significant role in the album’s resolution of the ‘future,’ as Joba simultaneously stands up against his past experiences and visualizes a future of success. Just as Roberto put his faith in his future in the hands of a greater power, Joba contends, “I am one with the ebb and flow, that’s all I know!”
The chapter of Saturation II is closed with a trio of love and positivity, moving towards the future with a half-full glass. “GAMBA” is a modern tale of love and self-love. The song builds from sparse instrumentation underneath the narration of Dom McLennon into Kanye-tinged trap ballad posing the question, “What you gonna do when you’re older?” The song ends with another Bearface vocal solo, reprising his symbolic role as the album’s conscience. The future is uncertain, and as a voice of reason, Bearface answers, “Don’t waste your mind / I’ll be the one to settle / To do what I am / To say what I am.”
Looping a gliding sample of “Torn” by Natalie Imbrugia, “SUNNY” is Saturation II’s final entry into fantasy. The gleeful shouts of Merlyn Wood playing off twinkling xylophone open the irresistibly happy song. To leave “SUNNY” as the penultimate song for the album is a hopeful decision, deeming the future of the members of Brockhampton, in their personal lives and in their careers, as optimistic.
Unlike the earlier crash into reality of “GUMMY,” Brockhampton stays dreaming in the album’s final track, “SUMMER.” The croons of Bearface against reverberating electric guitar float between your ears and into your racing mind. While the present is a time to look back and rethink choices, the only way to experience the future is to look forward and imagine it for yourself. Bearface’s performance of the song’s few lyrics imitates a constantly recycling chant or mantra, like replaying a potential scene in your head before you drift to sleep.
Listening to Saturation II is music as cinema: traveling through a life, experiencing and growing alongside the members of Brockhampton. Romance is important in nostalgia, but romanticism and optimism is vital in moving forward. This past-present-future structure cements Brockhampton not as a mainstream boy band, not as a political uprising, but as an inherently human experience. Everyone loves, everyone dances, everyone prays, everyone yells or whispers. Saturation II’s lyricism and musical production intertwine as an exposition of hope.
Brockhampton’s hand-crafted humanity resonates with their rapidly growing fanbase, primarily composed of Generation Z listeners searching for self-definition and a band to develop alongside them. The decade shift into the 2020’s has foreshadowed and proved a culture of tastemaking among younger music fans, mixing herd mentality to fit in with the intense emotional resonance of a group like Brockhampton to form what Chris Atton defines as a “genre-culture.”
In order to cut through the weeds of content overload in the age of social media, a culture of tastemaking has arisen amongst savvy internet users. From tested algorithms to personal curation, machine or human, social media participants have experienced this online cataloguing in some form. In the world of music, this new boundless listening access has catalyzed both an expansion of genres and an emphasized need for curation, particularly for younger audiences. In a recent YPulse survey, “78% of 13-17-year-olds agree that their music taste doesn’t fall into just one category.” This quantifies Atton’s “notion of a genre-culture [which] moves beyond an essentialism of classification to present genre in a wider context of social formation” (Atton 327).
A major influencer on the stage of music curation is YouTube. As I previously discussed, virality and music sharing guides the tastes of younger generations. Anthony Fantano, a.k.a. The Needle Drop on YouTube, has become the Internet’s pioneer of accessible music criticism. As music criticism becomes more pedantic even in online publications such as Pitchfork, Fantano illustrates himself as the musical every-man with a strong yet conversational grasp on popular music. His opinionated album review videos rose to popularity amongst millennial and Gen Z music audiences, who applauded that “unlike many critics, who desperately try to retain an air of objectivity, [Fantano] became a relentless champion of certain acts and genres” (Davino). One of these lauded musical acts was Brockhampton, receiving rare high praise from the famously severe critic: their Saturation trilogy from 2017 received a 9/10 rating followed by two 8/10 ratings, respectively. Through these positive reviews and a video interviewing several members of the collective, Fantano seemed to take the reins as a tastemaker to encourage mainstream attention for Brockhampton, catalyzing a new fanbase of music aficionados for Brockhampton branching directly off of Fantano’s viewership.
In order to analyze the variety and psyche of the Brockhampton fanbase as best I could, I chose to explore the fan discourse within the Brockhampton subreddit. The r/Brockhampton platform clearly illustrates the dedication and creativity of fans, as they partake in in-depth analysis of music and relevant pop culture, share unique art inspired by the group, and build lasting virtual friendships. In several surveys taken by members of the Brockhampton Reddit community, the demographics of the evaluated fanbase lean towards white male teens ages 17 to 20 years old (results out of 190 survey participants).
The issue with musical groups like Brockhampton advertising themselves as going against the grain of traditional pop music emerges when original fans create turmoil with new fans and what the group has developed into. Some fans that have been loyal to Brockhampton since the beginning have become disenchanted with the band’s shifting appearance of ‘authenticity’ as they engage more with pop culture. One post by user u/brytahea on the r/Brockhampton thread named “Brockhampton’s Fan Base Is so Cringey It Hurts” asserts, “see when they first came out, they called themselves a boyband because they were going against the mould that boy bands fit in. now it feels like they are just in that mould.”
Observations of the most devoted Brockhampton fans reveal three self-imposed pillars they value: attitude, political empowerment, and relatability or inspiration. The concept of a fan ‘attitude’ results from Atton’s description of “the collocation of expertise, pleasure, and economics” within the noise music fanbase (Atton 337). Being a fan of Brockhampton results from a focus and passion on not only the music, but the individual personas and coinciding trends of the collective.
Brockhampton fans pride themselves on obtaining rarities — limited merchandise, leaked or unreleased tracks, and more behind-the-scenes tangibles to connect the fan to the artist in a parasocial way. The latest example of this is a private Instagram account named @boyfriendstudios run by band leader Kevin Abstract. I found out about this mysterious account through a thread on r/Brockhampton, and I was luckily chosen as one of the limited 5,000 followers that were accepted randomly in daily rounds. This account gives dedicated fans a casual look inside Abstract’s process of creating the next Brockhampton album while in quarantine with the group’s producers Romil Hemnani and Jabari Manwa. Rarities like this present opportunities for older Brockhampton fans to feel a more personal connection to the personas they have supported in their rise to global fame. Additionally, for the disillusioned fans irritated with newcomers to the Brockhampton base, it allows a more intimate escape from the public sphere of ‘fake fans’ who aren’t aware of this well-kept secret.
While the intentions of Brockhampton’s lyricism are purely experiential, as expressed earlier in discussion of the song “JUNKY” off of Saturation II, the group’s young, motivated fanbase have prioritized political empowerment and responsibility in their social media engagements directly inspired by Brockhampton’s vision of inclusivity. Many fans have shouldered the importance of the #MeToo movement following the messy dismissal of former member Ameer Vann. When interpreting outspoken lyricism such as Matt Champion’s verse in “JUNKY,” fans commend the feminist and liberal notions expressed by such a mainstream musical act. It is important to remember that Brockhampton view their music as an outlet to share their personal observations of the world, so political interpretations are wholly tied to a passionate fanbase. As Atton explains, “recent currents in fan studies suggest that for too long we have expected a fan community to provide a communal and unidimensional struggle for meaning” (Atton 339); when extended to Brockhampton fans, I take this to mean that the individual impressions of listeners when understanding music are much more expansive and meaningful than even the intention of the song itself.
As Brockhampton becomes a household name around the world, their appeal of reliability in content and identity seems to be a consistent draw factor for new fans. Beyond the style and political obligations of being a Brockhampton fan, it is equally if not more important to derive a greater sense of self from their music. Brockhampton aims to write experiential music in order to clearly appeal to the experiences of their listeners. Topics such as race, education, class, and sexuality can obviously be politicized, but the members of Brockhampton rap about the human practice of constantly dealing with yourself internally.
After their impressive rise to success and authentic brand, Brockhampton has directly inspired fans to dip their toes in the music industry: “On one recent Reddit thread, a user waxed nostalgic about Abstract’s original casting call on the KTT message board. ‘Seeing this kind of shit is what made me wanna buy a guitar and begin to learn how to produce,’ one user chimed in. ‘Message me,’ another replied. ‘Would like to hear ur stuff’” (Battan). Sharing stories to inspire others to share their stories is a unique and impressive feat of a musical act, and Brockhampton emphasizes this action of self-exploration through art more than any trend or political motion. Brockhampton has played a vital part in dismantling the constraints of genre, showing that engagement with emotion and experience is not a characteristic unique to hip hop nor unique to pop.
The musicality of Brockhampton from their rise to now has consistently impressed due to its tender honesty and human relatability to a fanbase of passionate and emotionally developing young people. Brockhampton’s “virality” and their disruptive presence to the categorization of genre has allowed them to transcend the traditional musician-fan relationship as a personable inspiration and ally in self-realization.
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Lord, Annie, and Jake Lewis. “Kids Tell Us Why They’re So Obsessed with Brockhampton.” Vice, Vice Media LLC, 22 Aug. 2018, www.vice.com/en_us/article/a3q9d8/british-kids-tell-us-why-theyre-so-obsessed-with-brockhampton.
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