Brockhampton Breaks the Boy Band Mold


By Arjin Unlu and Noah Tesfaye

On a damp night on Market Street in San Francisco, a long line of teenagers are painted blue, wearing orange jumpsuits, some arriving as early as 8 a.m. with one goal: to watch a group that is redefining what it means to be a boy band, a group hoping to become the greatest music collective in history.

I think what we’re doing hasn’t really ever been done before because on one end, we’re a boy band and on the other end, we’re like this media company/ad agency,” founder and vocalist Kevin Abstract said to Fader. “I’ve never really seen anything truly like it.”

Brockhampton is reshaping society’s image of a boy band. Rather than being a group of five bubblegum pop vocalists, Brockhampton is a group of 14 young men comprised of rappers, vocalists, producers, photographers, videographers and graphic designers. The group uses their diverse skills to develop a sound and image unrivaled by any other boy band in history.

I don’t look like Justin Timberlake, and I don’t look like Harry Styles,” boy band rapper Ameer Vann said to The Verge. “But I would love to be them.”

“Then there would be a ton of kids out there that identify with us and be like, ‘I’m like that. I’m okay with being like that,” Abstract said in a Pigeons and Planes article.

Instead of discussing typical boy band subjects, Brockhampton instead chooses to make music with hard-hitting messages about mental health, race and sexual orientation. For example, in “FIGHT,” Vann opens the song with his experience as an African American in our society, rapping, “‘Little black boys have a place in the world, Like hanging from trees, Or dead in the street.’” In “JUNKY,” Abstract talks directly to homophobic rap listeners when he says, “Why you always rap about bein’ gay?’ ‘Cause not enough ni***s rap and be gay,’” speaking toward the necessity to be an unapologetic gay rapper.

The typical boy band won’t hesitate to express love for their fans in interviews, but often stray away from heavy topics. Coming from a range of ethnicities including white, Middle Eastern, and Ethiopian, Brockhampton’s diversity allows them to reach out to a larger youth audience, including teens at Los Altos.

Part of the reason why I like their music so much is that they touch on a wide variety of important issues in today’s culture and what it is like to actually be growing up in our world today,” senior Aevia Trainor said.

They don’t play radio pop like your average boy band either. They create music using a mixture of hip-hop, R&B and rock to establish their unique sound. Their choice to be a boy band enables them to be more than just a group of rappers, from appearing on television shows like TRL to headlining at music festivals across the world.

“You can only get so far as a rap collective,” Vann said to Beats 1. “Just by putting the name ‘rap’ on yourself, you’ve set a limit—but a pop star can do anything.”

In just nine months, they have put out three albums, toured twice, and released plenty of merchandise and music videos all shot and edited by their team members. Their Saturation trilogy albums do not only serve as a fresh take on hip hop, but also follow a storyline through their multiple music videos that fans rushed to conspire about.

I like them just because of the variety,” senior Gialon Kasha said. “You can go to Saturation I and II for bops and bangers, and Saturation III has more chill stuff that’s like lowkey, and I dig that.”

Ultimately, Brockhampton attempts to share an unfiltered experience of what it’s like being a young person in America today, all while reinventing what it means to be a boy band. After releasing the final Saturation album, Saturation III, which sold 35,000 units in its first week, the group announced their forthcoming project “Team Effort,” as the next project in the Brockhampton discography. Brockhampton fans are eager to share their passion for the band with the  world, and Brockhampton is equally as eager to release as much creative content as they can.