BROCKHAMPTON (formerly known as AliveSinceForever) is an American alternative hip hop boy band formed in San Marcos, Texas in 2015. Several members of the group were recruited through the Kanye West fan website KanyeToThe (back when it was called KanyeLive), leading to them gaining the title of "the Internet's first boy band."
The group released their debut mixtape ALL-AMERICAN TRASH in March 2016, which received modest reception. They weren't really put on the map until they released the SATURATION trilogy, a series of three albums from June to December 2017 that were all critically acclaimed for showcasing plenty of chemistry between the groups distinct members, as well as a diverse array of sounds mixing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and shades of alternative rock. The stellar ratings all of the albums got from independent publications like The Needle Drop also didn't hurt.
Throughout 2018, multiple albums — TEAM EFFORT, PUPPY, and THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES — were announced and then shelved. PUPPY was the most poised to release, with a projected June 2018 release that was obstructed by numerous sexual misconduct allegations made towards fellow member Ameer Vann. The validity and severity of the claims have been hotly debated (and we'll leave it at that), but they were serious enough to, as of May 27th, 2018, remove Ameer from the group.
Following the Ameer situation, the band took a small break to recollect, returning in time for their late night TV debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where TBYOOL was announced.
Eventually, the band settled on an album called iridescence — created largely during several weeks the band spent in London — which became the only one of the announced albums to see an official release, on September 21st, 2018. The album is reportedly the first volume in a second trilogy, of which TBYOOL is the namesake.
The group has also dabbled in film. In 2016, they produced and starred in the single-season docuseries American Boybandnote , and in 2018 released a documentary called The Longest Summer in America for a limited theatrical run to coincide with the release of iridescence.
* = Has Released Solo Music
- Kevin Abstract* - Vocalist, Producer, Creative Director
- Merlyn Wood - Vocalist
- Dom McLennon* - Vocalist
- Matt Champion* - Vocalist
- JOBA - Vocalist, Producer
- bearface* - Vocalist, Producer, Guitar
- Robert Ontenient - Webmaster, Guitar & Spoken Word Vocals
- Jabari Manwa - Producer
- Kiko Merley - Producer
- Romil Hemnani - Producer
- Henock "HK" Sileshi - Graphic Designer, Creative Director
- Ashlan Grey - Photographer
- Jon Nunes - Manager
- ALL-AMERICAN TRASH (mixtape) (2016)
- SATURATION (2017)
- SATURATION II (2017)
- SATURATION III (2017)
- iridescence (2018)
Readin' tropes on a Friday:
- All Caps: How their album and song titles are preferably formatted, alongside the name of the band as well as JOBA.
- all lowercase letters: How the title of iridescence and the name of bearface is formatted.
- Anti-Police Song: "HEAT".Who done called the cops on my niggas?
Who done called the cops on my niggas?
That's the first one to go,
the first shot I blow.
- Atomic F-Bomb: Kevin lets out several at the start of "saturation 389" after messing up his lines.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: A majority of the band.
- Big "YES!": The huge drop that ends "CHICK" is kicked off with JOBA screaming "YEEEEAH!"
- This is later repeated in "GAMBA."
- Body Paint: One of the most defining traits of the SATURATION era was the band painting their upper torsos blue for photos and live shows.
- Kevin also briefly has his face painted yellow in the "JUNKY" video, namely around the point in the song where he raps about being ashamed of being "a fuckin' Simpson".
- Book-Ends: The entire SATURATION trilogy; not only does the trilogy's final song "TEAM" retain the four-letter track-naming scheme as the first SATURATION, but, taking a page from The Wall, its ending reuses the same sound effects as the intro of "HEAT", the trilogy's first song.
- Careful with That Axe: Merlyn and JOBA are easily the loudest in the group, but Merlyn's voice just seems to be naturally loud, while JOBA has more of a penchant to scream his guts out on songs, with his verses on "HEAT", "BOOGIE", and especially "J'OUVERT" being specific examples.
- Kevin's screaming in "BUMP" is also worth mentioning.
- See Big "YES!" above.
- Consummate Liar: Kevin is infamous for misleading fans on his Twitter (with some examples being that he would retire the Kevin Abstract name and that SATURATION III would be the band's last album), and it has grown to the point where everything he says is automatically taken with skepticism.
- Darker and Edgier: iridescence, both sonically—the beats are notably grimier and dirtier—and lyrically—as it mostly deals with pained sentiments following both the band's rise to fame and the Ameer situation.
- Depraved Kids' Show Host: A downplayed example; in the video for HIGH TOLERANCE, Ameer plays a parody of LeVar Burton who teaches kids about good things, like safe sex, as well as bad things, like drug addiction.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Their debut single, "Bet I", has considerably more hedonistic lyrics about sex and drugs, and Kevin has since disowned it.
- ALL-AMERICAN TRASH retrospectively seems to reflect a BROCKHAMPTON that hadn't yet grown into its sound. As a result, the sound is more all over the place, ranging from sensual R&B to more traditional self-deprecating raps. Also, there's a song with Merlyn as the lead.
- Merlyn was considerably quieter before the SATURATION trilogy, when he became known as "the shouting guy".
- Epic Rocking: "SISTER/NATION", as it is two songs in one, is 6 minutes long.
- Face on the Cover: All three entries of the SATURATION trilogy feature Ameer's face in some way, shape, or form—the first had him in blue face-paint behind a surgical mask, the second had him with no paint smiling in the driver's seat of a van, and the third had him back in paint and crying. Multiple covers were also created for SATURATION III, all depicting one member of the band each.
- Two distorted images of Romil and Jaden (Kevin's boyfriend) were treated as tentative album art for PUPPY.
- Every Episode Ending: Every SATURATION album ended with an emotional rock song by bearface.
- Extreme Close-Up: Most of the music video for "1999 WILDFIRE" is filmed with the camera zoomed in very far, focusing on the singers' faces.
- Fading into the Next Song: The final track of the SATURATION trilogy, "TEAM", segues into the first track of SATURATION I, "HEAT".
- Gayngst: Kevin was subjected to this, primarily through his parents (mostly his mother) refusing to accept his homosexuality, and has spoken about it in multiple songs (ex: "JUNKY" and "WEIGHT").
- Gratuitous Foreign Language:
- During the SATURATION trilogy, Spanish, courtesy of Robert "Roberto" Ontenient. Not that it's a bad thing; In promotion of SATURATION III, each band member also received an alternate album cover and posted a corresponding image on their Instagram story with a Spanish caption.
- In the three singles released between the end of the SATURATION trilogy and the beginning of TBYOOL, Serbian, courtesy of Milo Mihajlov.
- Helium Speech: A unique trait of the band is their occasional tendencies of pitching up their vocals for this effect.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Matt's verse in "JUNKY" explicitly attacks this type of person, as he states how he finds it disgusting when men complain about all women being whores yet turn around and use ladylike women solely for their bodies.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Started from SATURATION onwards.
- All of SATURATION's tracks have four-letter names, save for the final one ("WASTE"), which has five. In turn, SATURATION II has all five-letter track names, save for the final one ("SUMMER"), which has six. Finally, SATURATION III has all six-letter track names, save for the final one ("TEAM"), which has four.
- All of the BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES single titles were distinguished by having a certain year (starting at 1999 and going backwards to 1997) and then a word related to a movie or event that belonged in that year (ex: "1998 TRUMAN", "1997 DIANA").
- iridescence averted this, as it doesn't follow a pattern with its song names.
- Insistent Terminology: They're not a collective, nor are they a "self-described" boy band; they are a boy band.
- Insult of Endearment: In concerts, it's regular for the band to spot out a particular fan in the crowd and instruct the whole crowd to yell "Fuck you!" at that fan, with "Fuck you!" in this context meaning "I love you!".
- Kubrick Stare: A favorite of JOBA.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: As of now, there are fourteen BROCKHAMPTON members, and it speaks volumes of the band's chemistry and synergy that each and every one of them has found their own fandom and, in regards to who the best member is, there are good arguments for multiple members.
- Manly Tears: All of the SATURATION III album covers have a tear rather tackily edited onto the face of the band members.
- Mood Whiplash: "BUMP", "QUEER", and "SISTER/NATION" are straight bangers that, on the drop of a hat, switch into far mellower and quieter songs.
- Motor Mouth:
- Dom's notably rapid-fire verse at the very end of "JUNKY".
- After the SATURATION trilogy, JOBA developed a rapping style that consisted of him speeding through densely packed verses while enunciating each and every word, as seen in "1999 WILDFIRE".
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Roberto's memetic legend of a Once an Episode Catchphrase, used to start each SATURATION music video, is "Me llamo Roberto" ("My name is Robert" in English).
- In the singles released for the ultimately unreleased The Best Years of Our Lives, we were introduced to a Serbian character named Milo Mihajlov starting off songs with "Моје име је Милош Михајлов" ("My name is Milo Mihajlov").
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: While BROCKHAMPTON's core sound is Alternative Hip Hop, they also like to pull in Alternative Rock themes and guitar riffs (to say nothing of Bearface's straight-up rock ballads at the end of the SATURATION albums), slick pop hooks, and percussion influenced by anything from Drum and Bass to soca music.
- New Sound Album: iridescence. Compared to the SATURATION era, it's undoubtedly Darker and Edgier both sonically and lyrically.
- N-Word Privileges: While song verses sung by the band's black members use the N-word liberally, in live performances the non-black members rather pointedly fall silent for those lines. As per the band members, they believe the word should only be used by black people in general.
- Once an Episode: See My Name Is Inigo Montoya above.
- One-Woman Song: "TONYA", named after Tonya Harding, an ice skater whose legacy was tarnished in controversy similar to how BROCKHAMPTON's legacy was bogged down by the Ameer situation.
- One-Word Title: All of the SATURATION trilogy tracks (sans the skits, if you consider "Skit"/"Scene"/"Cinema" and a number to be two separate words), as well as the first installment.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Merlyn, typically known as the most consistently energetic out of anyone in the band, has been known to rap incredibly introspective verses that are significantly quieter in tone, namely on "MILK" and "TONYA".
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "HOTTIE" is easily the band's poppiest song yet.
- There's also "WEIGHT" and "TAPE" from iridescence, in which BROCKHAMPTON dabble in drum n' bass, to interesting effect.
- Put on a Bus: Roberto, following the conclusion of the SATURATION trilogy. His music video intros—his only real appearances—were replaced with a new Serbian character named Milos Mihajlov, but he eventually managed to do his intros again on iridescence, albeit to a smaller extent.
- Real Men Love Jesus: In several SATURATION skits, Roberto can be heard praying.
- Refuge in Audacity: Kevin's "Empty" music video was how many people found out about his homosexuality. How did he make the big reveal, exactly? By having another man fellate him.
- Running Gag:
- Ameer really enjoyed rapping about his past as a drug dealer.
- Kevin really enjoys rapping about his homosexuality.
- "The Brockhampton flow", as christened by Anthony Fantano.
- Kevin gets self-aware on "saturation 389":Blah-blah-blah, same shit every song
What kind of drugs Ameer on?
What kind of boys you fucking on?
- On "CHICK", Ameer finally addresses his habit of rapping about limited topics (more specifically, drug dealing):Imma be a star even if I say the same things.
- Kevin gets self-aware on "saturation 389":
- Self Empowerment Anthem: SATURATION has self-betterment as something of a central theme; "MILK" and "TRIP" are two good (but pretty dark) examples of this trope.
- Shout-Out: All over the place.
- "INFATUATION" has these lines:
- "STAR" is completely rife with them, as the whole song consists of the band comparing themselves to celebrities.
- Kevin's verse on "JUNKY" has the line "Delete my tweets 'cuz I'm ashamed of being a fucking Simpson"; this correlates with his real name (Clifford Ian Simpson), but in the music video he raps this line with his face painted yellow.
- Merlyn's verse on "ZIPPER" has this wonderful set of lines:"Start praying to me like my handle CortanaSweet-talkin' just like she Hannah MontanaHead was cleeeaaan, Tony Fantano!"
- The public consensus seems to be that the drums on "TAPE" interpolate those on Radiohead's "Videotape", given their similarities and select band members' outspoken influence-taking from the band.
- Sigil Spam: The Brockhampton couch◊, effectively the band logo, has been plastered all over merch and videos alike.
- Song Style Shift: Both "1999 WILDFIRE" and "1998 TRUMAN" have one, courtesy of bearface; the former simply turns the pre-existing hip-hop beat into something groovier and more melodic, while the latter turns the song into a straight-up R&B ballad.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: Used in JOBA's verse in "SISTER", as a Stealth Pun, no less!
- I've got (long beep), but you would never know.I like to hide them, so much I lose myself.
- Stage Name:
- Kevin Abstract's real name is Clifford Ian Simpson.
- Merlyn Wood's real name is William Wood.
- Dom McLennon's real name is Dominique Michael Simpson.
- JOBA's real name is Russell Evan Boring.
- bearface's real name is Ciarán McDonald.
- Henock Sileshi goes under the pseudonym "HK".
- Step Up to the Microphone:
- Merlyn gets a song all to himself in "FLIP MO".
- bearface's solo songs at the ending of each SATURATION album ("WASTE", "SUMMER", the "EVANIE" portion of "TEAM") seem to also function as this.
- The track TEETH on SATURATION II is a short solo poem from Ameer.
- SOMETHING ABOUT HIM sees Kevin robotically crooning an ode to his boyfriend.
- Stop and Go: After JOBA's verse in "DISTRICT", he says "wait, wait, wait", and then bearface takes a deep breath and continues the song.
- There's also "1997 DIANA", which features several of these, including, infamously, when Matt burps directly into the microphone during his second verse.
- Textless Album Cover: iridescence.
- Theme Naming:
- SATURATION had four-letter song titles except for the last one, which had five.
- SATURATION II had five-letter song titles except for the last one, which had six.
- SATURATION III had six-letter song titles except for the last one, which had four.
- True Companions: The band defined themselves through a variety of factors, but an important one was their incredible artistic chemistry as well as their friendship and obvious love and respect for one another. Making Ameers departure all the more devastating.I got a team I'm willing to die for.
- We All Die Someday: Noted by Merlyn in "INFATUATION":We all gonna die one day.
Man, ain't that crazy?
- Visual Pun: The cover art for SATURATION II has Ameer Vann...in a van.
- His departure from the band led to edits of the SATURATION album covers that removed Ameer, leading to quips of what's left of the SATURATION II cover being a mere van.