December 6, 2018
When considering who is the best boy band of the decade, the band Brockhampton has already coined that term as theirs, as they continue to win the hearts of many and produce countless albums. Many people do not know the band Brockhampton or how they even began; but one thing is for certain, if you hear one of their songs, you are certain to be hooked.
In 2010, the founder of Brockhampton, Kevin Abstract, posted to a forum board looking for members to join his musical group. He asked, “Anybody want to make a band?” and people who went to school with him (Vann, Wood, and Joba) and people from afar (Bearface, from Belfast; Hemnani, from South Windsor, Conn.) heeded his call and formed the group to later be known as Brockhampton. The name ultimately came from the street Kevin Abstract grew up on in Corpus Christi, something not many people know.1
Like many groups just starting out, Brockhampton did not start with tons of money and supporters; they had to work for it. Their manager Kelly Clancy said, “They had no money,” and “Their diets consisted entirely of corner store stuff. We’d have morning meetings and dudes would be eating ice cream for breakfast.”2 That still did not stop the band from giving it their all. In 2015, the band released their first album together, All-American Trash, in San Marcos, Texas, and it wasn’t until the year 2017 when the band really became famous.3 In 2017, they released what is considered to be their “big break” album, the Saturation Trilogy. In 2017, Brockhampton released three albums, Saturation I in June, Saturation II in August, and Saturation III in December.4 With this flurry of albums, Brockhampton was able to jump start their careers and future into stardom.
Brockhampton’s producer Romil Hemnani stated, “For our first album, Saturation I, we made, like, 50 songs and put out 17. For Saturation II, we made 80 or 90 new songs and put out 16. And for Saturation III, we made 60 or 70 new songs, and 15 made the cut.”5 It is obvious how much Brockhampton wanted to succeed. They created over 200 songs and only released 48 songs because that is what they thought was acceptable. To make this accomplishment even greater, they did all of this in one year; other artists only release one to maybe two albums per year, and Brockhampton released all three albums in one year. The trilogy alone has earned them $432.2 million dollars on stream demands in the United States, according to Nielsen Music.6Bands being overworked is a big reason why band members often depart from their respective groups. Bands often work for no money when they are just starting out; they have to go on yearlong tours, and have to stay in hotel rooms for nights on end at times. According to a study done by Help Musicians UK, 60% of musicians have suffered from depression or other psychological issues, citing touring an issue for 71% of respondents.7
Band members even openly state that they are being over worked. In late 2016, a hashtag that really opened the eyes of others surfaced titled “#FreeFifthHarmony.” During a private recording session, member Lauren Jauregui was recorded saying, “We were doing f—-ing labor every day, and we see nothing.” Many fans rose up to support the group and claimed that FifthHarmony’s management was overworking them. A correlation was made that because of this, the group decided to split up.8 Another split that was caused because of overworking was the band One Direction. Beloved member Zayn Malik decided to leave the band, ultimately breaking millions of hearts. A source close to the band released a statement on behalf of the band, “Zayn went because he’d had enough. Have you ever been on the road for four years?”9 Despite working hard for a year straight, Brockhampton continued to work and on a Saturation III song titled “Boogie.” Brockhampton named themselves as “the best boy band since One Direction.”10The band’s openness in their songs’ messages and in Abstract’s lyrics about being openly gay are what excite and entice current listeners, since this unusual style is not glorified or mimicked by other artists today.11 Brockhampton considers themselves to have an untraditional style, since they cover issues in their songs such as self-harm, homophobia, gun violence, rape culture, body dysmorphia, and depression.12
Many people say that they are depressed without actually being depressed, and sometimes people do not even know where depression stems from. Factors that can cause depression include genetics, monoamines, (which are brain receptors being reduced by the body), gender, and life events.13 Research has suggested that depression symptoms are associated with quarrelsome behavior. Quarrelsome behavior causes depressed individuals to respond more to social cues that elicit quarrelsome behavior, such as criticizing another person and ignoring others’ comments.14
Anyone can develop depression. Whether the person is young or old, rich or poor, depression has no limitations. Even people in power such as celebrities can develop depression as well. An example of a celebrity who has a form of depression (bipolar disorder) is Demi Lovato. Demi Lovato suffered from her mental illness, which caused her to drink excessively and do drugs, which is what depression can illicit out of people, negative behaviors.15 She is not the only one who suffers. Many other artists and celebrities suffer as well. Sometimes they struggle alone, sometimes they let it be known, but it is important to remember that they are people too with real problems. Artists such as Demi Lovato like to dedicate music to their depression as a form of coping and as a way to tell their story.16 It is important to not try and self-diagnose, and if someone thinks they might have a mental illness, they should seek professional help just to be sure. Brockhampton knew the effects of depression and highlighted it in order to relate to their audience, which brought them fame.Brockhampton’s success did not come without consequences. After finishing a great year and beginning a new tour in 2018, the face on all the Saturation covers, Ameer Vann, was under fire due to claims made on Twitter accusing him of sexual misconduct. A female fan on Twitter came forward and claimed that Vann “degrades women, makes forceful advances and does not ease up when asked, is emotionally abusive, uses girl[s], ν[ery] manipulative, has sex with underage/legal fans.” A singer/songwriter Rhett Rowan supported the claim in saying, “I dated him and can confirm that Ameer is emotionally manipulative and mentally abusive.”17
Vann later responded saying that in the past he had been “selfish, childish and unkind,” and admitted that “throughout the past 3 years I’ve been working hard to reflect on myself and seek out help,” but also insisted that he had “never criminally harmed anyone or disrespected their boundaries.” Representatives told people that Brockhampton had stood behind Vann and would not respond to any of his tweets.18
A few days after this, while on tour, Kevin Abstract live streamed himself saying that he did not agree with what Vann had said and apologized for not speaking up sooner. He also said that the band was postponing their next album PUPPY that was originally going to be released that June. While still on tour, the band performed without Vann and left out his parts during their songs until the end of the concert. The next day, the band announced that they were removing Vann from the group and canceled the rest of the tour.19 Many fans were confused but respected the band’s decision.In 2006, a Social activist known as Tarana Burke founded a movement known as “Me Too” that supports survivors of sexual abuse, especially girls and women of color. The movement really picked up speed in 2017 when the “Me Too” movement resurfaced on social media and was renamed to “#MeToo.” One of the first persons to be affected by the “#MeToo” movement was the media mogul Harvey Weinstein in October of 2017. Weinstein was accused by many women of sexual harassment, and later in the month actress Alyssa Milano asked others who were victims of sexual assault to respond to her post with the “#MeToo.” Hundreds of thousands responded and that is what ultimately brought the “Me Too” movement back. Another person to be affected by the movement was Kevin Spacey. Because he was accused by many women and with the power of the “Me Too” movement, Spacey and many others who were targeted lost all their power, and some ultimately lost their jobs in the process.20
In December of 2017, 61 people had been credited by Time Magazine as “Person(s) of the Year” and were labeled as “The Silence Breakers.” 21 These people were essentially a part of the “#MeToo” movement and stepped forward and opposed their oppressors. The movement did not slow down after its sudden surge in 2017; the energy carried into 2018 as well. On January 1 of 2018, a group of women in Hollywood started an anti-harassment group that they called “the Time’s Up movement.”22 This group was created to raise money and support women who were sexually abused or targeted by people in power. On January 20 of 2018, the second Women’s March aligned with the “#MeToo” movement, which shows how big the movement had become after such a short amount of time.[23 Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2018, s.v. “Me Too Sexual Misconduct Movement,” by Micah L. Issitt.] The late removal of Ameer Vann could be credited to “#MeToo” since he was targeted during the time of the movement. Like Vann, many people in the entertainment industry lost their jobs and have had their careers ruined due to their inappropriate actions and this movement bringing light to their actions.Months later during an interview, Abstract said that, at first he believed Vann because of their family trust, but denounced his trust when Vann began to lie to the group about things that were not stated.23 Fans wondered about the future of Brockhampton seeing as they had made many great songs with Vann and continued to wonder if they could still produce great music without him. Those thoughts were silenced with the release of their song “1999 Wildfire.” Bringing in at the time 1.7 million streams on a very popular streaming platform, Brockhampton showed what they could do without Vann, and teased about what was yet to come.24
A few months after the release of “1999 Wildfire,” Brockhampton was ready to show the world that they still had the talent and were still capable of making amazing albums. After many supposed name changes and a long summer, Brockhampton released their newest album Iridescence.25 Fans still skeptical did not know what to expect, but according to musical charts, Brockhampton didn’t disappoint.
Despite losing a member and being written off by many, Brockhampton stuck to what they knew best and produced an album that topped the Billboard 200 in October of 2018, earning 101,000 album equivalent units, including 79,000 in traditional sales, according to Nielsen Music.26 This feat was not just given so easily. Brockhampton had heavy competition to beat in order to achieve that top spot. One of the competitors was Josh Groban, a man who appeared on Broadway, and who sat at No. 2 with his new album, Bridges, which relied largely on traditional sales (94,000). On top of that, his album was also bundled with concert tickets, making it more appealing to purchase. Brockhampton’s other competitors also included Eminem’s Kamikaze at No. 3, with 65,000 units; Drake’s Scorpion, in its thirteenth week, at No. 4, adding another 63,000 units; and No. 5 with Travis Scott’s Astroworld, eight weeks on, with 57,000 units.27
Minimal knowledge is needed to recognize how amazing an accomplishment this is. Brockhampton released an album into an atmosphere where highly respected musical artists were claiming top spots on the Billboard, and not only were they seeded besides them, they ultimately overtook them. If there was any doubt whether Brockhampton can still shine without Ameer Vann, this was the deciding factor that they indeed still could.
Brockhampton leader Kevin Abstract says that while he is grateful and excited, he still can’t celebrate without reaching all of his goals. Abstract explains, “I just know we all wanna be way more successful. I know that sounds kinda weird, knowing that we have the number one album in the country right now, but I still know that the possibilities are endless and limitless. There’s so much more work that we need to do to be considered one of the greats.”28
Only time will tell if Brockhampton will continue to live up to their name and formally acclaim the title “best boy band since One Direction.”29 If one thing is for certain, when the pressure is on and the members are backed against the wall, they will continue to fight no matter what, and aim to be the best despite all odds.
I absolutely love Brockhampton! It’s amazing to see their growth after pushing so hard to get to where they are now. They are such a real band and their songs are not all about wealth and greed. They talk about real issues such as mental health, drug abuse, and even the constant disrespect towards women. I especially liked how you mentioned the removal of Ameer from the group, instead of just highlighting their great moments.