By Tom Bergan
“Brockhampton released three albums in six months, and they’ve got another one coming sometime in 2018.”
This line, which I have repeated countless times when introducing my friends to Brockhampton, usually garners a response that is somewhere between shock and awe. Often, their response is supplemented with a line along the lines of “What the hell, that’s absurd!” I simply nod in agreement, and at this point I am usually queueing up either “STAR” or “SWEET,” two tracks that immediately catch people upon first listen.
The conversation often delves into the details of the group’s origins, with members meeting on the Kanye West forum “KanyeToThe,” moving into a house in Los Angeles, then working on the already legendary Saturation Trilogy, a level of output that has been matched by few in music history. The boy-band is so much more than simply a band, however, and this cannot be overstated. They’re a collective that is creating some of the freshest content in production, videography, photography and music, obviously, in a time in which so much media is repetitive. Their music videos have a homemade/low-budget vibe that is incredibly addictive and artistic at the same time. Their merch is reminiscent to that of Tyler the Creator’s GOLF line, with a simplicity that relies on color schemes (in a good way). And it can almost be guaranteed that their full length movie, filmed in under two weeks and slated for release in theatres sometime in 2018, will have the same unique creativity that only Brockhampton can bring to the table.
Within their ranks there’s Merlyn, with an eclectic delivery that involves vocal manipulation and lines that sometimes border on absurdity (for example, screaming his name, “MERLYN” at the beginning of “STUPID,” or hitting listeners with the wonderfully puzzling “Don’t call me stupid, that ain’t no way my name pronounced” in “SWEET”). There’s Joba, one of the vocalists whose singing has provided both some of the most exhilarating and beautiful moments in the band’s catalog (see: “ZIPPER” and “JOHNNY” respectively). And there’s a dozen more, who could just as easily be gushed over for their versatility and creativity that they have all showcased through Brockhampton’s creative output (if we talk about Brockhampton in person, be sure to cut me off at this part, because I could talk your ear off simply discussing each of the members).
When Brockhampton comes through the speakers, they take the listener on a musical journey through a plethora of sounds in the span of just a few songs. The variance between the dancey chaos of “BOOGIE’s” staccato verses, the introspective reflection of Ameer’s verse in “SUNNY,” and Matt Champion’s call-out of male entitlement in “JUNKY” is what separates them from other groups. Within 15 minutes of my introduction of Brockhampton to friends, they have seen them at their softest and hardest. It seems that in just a year’s time, Brockhampton has created music for any scenario, while always remaining true to the artistic origins of the group. Whether one needs the perfect song to bump at a party or wants to existentially walk alone in a moment’s sadness, Brockhampton has the answer, yet another accolade that few artists can claim (and one that almost none can claim so quickly in their career).
Possibly the most exciting fact about Brockhampton is that they’re just getting started. The upwards trajectory of their popularity is apparent in their social media presence, one of the easiest ways to track the growth in popularity of someone in today’s society. Many members started 2017 with a thousand or so followers at most; whereas today, many of them boast upwards of 50 thousand followers on some platforms, with the official Brockhampton Instagram sitting at 263 thousand followers at the time of publishing. And while many of the members have been involved in creating music for years, none are older than 25, a fact that I was immediately shocked by upon discovering the group, and one that continually impresses my friends who seemingly also find a connection with the group. In regards to the lack of age difference between the band and the listener, it seemingly creates a bond not always felt in art. It does not feel as if Brockhampton are making music “at” their fans, only for their consumption. Rather, it feels as if Brockhampton are making music “with” their fans, taking them along for their journey, and this is where the connection with their age is felt by many, myself included.
Photo by Ashlan Grey
The band is kicking off a tour this week that is hitting the entire country, from Texas to New York to California, and everywhere in between. I would bet that their live shows will be just as exhilarating to experience as their other output, and I implore you to check them out in some capacity. Listen to an album of theirs, watch their music videos, and before you know it, you’ll be just like me, itching at the chance to show Brockhampton to everyone you know.