Brockhampton: The makings of All-American Trash

6 mins read

Brockhampton have redefined the term boyband.

Until recent years, boybands were seen as pretty men with a devotion to performing sappy love songs for hoards of drooling fans around the world.

Brockhampton have turned this stereotype from kids with a talented manager, big label and above average singing voices into a group of unique professionals with youthful energy. Not only this, but they have tackled the refining boundaries of all hip-hop music by becoming an example of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, backgrounds, talents and sounds that can create a boyband.

Frontman Kevin Abstract was a Texas school kid with a dream of creating music where he could be more than vocals in a pop band. He wanted a band that had a collection of talent all being recognised behind the musical masterpiece. This has been seen before by the well-known band Odd Future.

Credit: Genius Lyrics

Although five members of Brockhampton were old school friends, the band was formed in an online Kanye West forum. Abstract posted in the forum asking if anyone would be interested in creating a band, and with over 30 responses, they formed AliveSinceForever in 2012. By the end of 2014 they had disbanded and rebranded into the unique worldwide phenomenon Brockhampton.

This transition involved adding more members and creating a new image. Since then the many members of the group have created a family that appear to the world as one of the best hip hop boybands to date.

Their journey so far has landed Abstract as their frontman, rapper, singer-songwriter and director. But the key to Brockhampton’s success isn’t their founder and frontman, it’s their stance as a collective.

They began as a 15 member all American blend of talent, all as important and respected as one another, and currently have 14 members. These past and present members of Brockhampton that come and go have specialised in all areas, including vocals, production, direction, mixing, recording engineering, graphic and web design, management and photography. This original way of relying on themselves from start to finish is borderline unheard of and inspiring for the music world.

The members that appear on stage as the vocalists are the main face of Brockhampton, but contrary to what boyband stereotypes would suggest, each member and aspect involved in creating their music and image is acknowledged equally.

In 2016, Brockhampton dropped their debut mixtape All-American Trash which had free downloading for all listeners.

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The mixtape builds the momentum and presents the energy of a band learning and exploring their sound, who would later become a family.

All-American Trash introduced Brockhampton as a band that weren’t afraid to test themselves, teasing fans with different styles and sounds. They produced an alternative hip hop, neo soul mixtape with a range of tracks and a complex, untouchable sound.

The album begins on a personal, witty, live note with ENCINO before emerging into a heavy rap style with BEN CARSON, setting the mixed energy of the album.

The album explores the softer sound to Brockhampton in multiple songs. BREAKFAST and CONTACTS show a more indie, R&B sound with minor production and a soulful tone. HOME, MICHIGAN and PALACE combine this with an electro-acoustic aspect that borders on experimental. They dabble in jazz sounds with PALACE, and HOME introduces the art of adding effects and manipulating raw material, known as Musique Concrète. They also explore this more thoroughly in MOSSCLIFF, a busy and organic track, which sets the precedent for all Brockhampton albums.

They dive into their hip hop sound in MICHIGAN with a catchy hook, FLIP MO with a fresh angsty style, and COTTON HOLLOW with a continuous beat and soulful rap on top. POISON displays the bands ability to mix a more mainstream rap sound with other genres, such as indie rock.

LOST IN LOVE ends the album by complimenting the previously over produced and edited tracks with an under produced simpler sound. It is jazz focused, ending the album on a note that clarifies their commitment to being indefinable.

Brockhampton took an experimental dive into the past, present and future of music in their mixtape All-American Trash which landed them in the attention of the public for the coming years. The artists show their versatile set of skills and sounds alongside unique, powerful voices. They explore catchy beats and choruses with personal, soulful sounds side by side all in one mixtape.

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