The Culture

How Brockhampton Is Redefining the Boy Band

Illustration by Eric Petersen

This story originally appeared in the March 2018 issue with the headline “The Boy Band, Redefined.”

Brockhampton’s self-branding as “the internet’s first boy band” often seems antithetical to their reality. Their rabid devotees call themselves “dumbasses” rather than a cutesy moniker. And though they claim to be following in the tradition of telegenic nineties acts geared toward teen girls, the unsigned rap collective spits unorthodox bars that are anything but cookie-cutter. Still, in the past two years, the fourteen members of Brockhampton—six of them Texans—have moved from San Marcos to Los Angeles and pole-vaulted from the rap underground to stardom. Brockhampton could very well conquer mainstream pop. Here’s how they’ll get there.

Revamp Old Terms
“I’m just super into redefining things,” Brockhampton founder and Corpus Christi native Kevin Abstract says at the beginning of American Boyband, the group’s Viceland documentary miniseries. First up for review? “Boy band,” of course. Brockhampton expands the accepted “white, straight male” definition to include black, brown, and gay.

Weaponize the Web
Before the members, previously scattered around the globe, moved to San Marcos in 2015 to record their mixtape, All-American Trash, they met on a Kanye West web forum. It’s fitting, then, that a community of web fans is fueling the band’s rise. The dumbasses are some of Twitter’s most evangelical spreaders of free PR for the band, and nearly 30,000 subscribers analyze the members’ every move on the Brockhampton subreddit.

Brockhampton

Members of Brockhampton.

Ashlan Grey

Keep It In-house
In Warholian fashion, the hip-hop crew dubbed their L.A. live/work space “the Brockhampton Factory.” Members sleep, write songs, record albums, shoot music videos, make cover art, eat, and tweet in the setup, which was inspired by Mark Zuckerberg’s coding house in The Social Network.

Pivot to Video
Of all the Factory output, Brockhampton’s videos are perhaps most notable, for both volume and craft. Shifting between slick tracking shots and joyful made-at-home improvisation, the collective has released a constant stream of music videos, tour narratives, comedy skits, and miniseries episodes online.

Saturate
In an all-caps assault on our attention, Brockhampton released their SATURATION LP in June, SATURATION II in August, and SATURATION III in December, while also making videos and album cover art. The breakneck pace has allowed the band to refine their craft, but it has also helped them stay relevant in an era of amnesiac attention spans. The saturation continues: Brockhampton began 2018 with a 32-date tour, and they’re already grinding away on another album.

Listen to Brockhampton’s BLEACH:

Tags: Music, Brockhampton

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