Members of the band Brockhampton in Los Angeles in December.
Members of the band Brockhampton in Los Angeles in December.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images


Newest kids on the block Brockhampton reinvent the idea of a boy band

Call them the boy band of tomorrow — no, really.

To Los Angeles-based hip-hop collaborative Brockhampton, reclaiming one of pop music’s most oft-disparaged terms is just one step in an ambitious growth strategy that’s been accelerating since the arrival of their 2016 debut mixtape “All-American Trash,” and which received the mother of all adrenaline shots last year with the release of three discs billed as the “Saturation” trilogy.

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The discs — all stuffed with genre-eschewing tracks that shift between personal, political, and party-hard as if cycling through a jukebox programmed by a hip-hop high council — earned their titles, in no small part because of a rollout approach aggressive enough to send other boy bands like One Direction running for cover. By year’s end, Brockhampton was everywhere, racking up millions of listeners on Spotify, storming YouTube with music videos, booking spots at festivals such as Coachella and Boston Calling, and setting their own 32-date “Love Your Parents” tour. They’ll play a sold-out show at House of Blues Feb. 5, following up three sold-out shows at New York City’s Irving Plaza.


The “Saturation” trilogy cemented Brockhampton as an eclectic, restless collective capable of producing whatever sounds they set their combined minds to, from Death Grips-esque punk-rap (“SISTER/NATION”) to Middle East-infused melodicism (“GUMMY”). In their versatility, the songs were proof of the grand concept Brockhampton ringleader Kevin Abstract has believed in since he first began to assemble the group’s members more than half a decade ago.

“[Brockhampton] represents a group of people who did what we wanted to do, and not what people older than us or gatekeepers expected from us,” says Abstract, a 21-year-old rapper originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. “We did what we wanted to do, made it work, and made our own rules — and the best art we could — along the way.”

As Abstract and the other members of Brockhampton — vocalists Ameer Vann, Merlyn Wood, Matt Champion, Russell Boring (who goes by Joba), and Dom McLennon; producers Romil Hemnani, Ciarán McDonald (who goes by bearface.), Kiko Merley, and Jabari Manwa; webmaster and app designer Robert Ontenient; photographer Ashlan Grey; creative director Henock Sileshi (who goes by HK); and their 22-year-old manager Jon Nunes — speak by phone from Houston, they’re in agreement that this commitment to believing in their own abilities is a crucial part of what makes the group work.

“For me, personally, I always envisioned this years ago,” says Wood, 21, of Brockhampton’s rise. “When I met Kevin, Ameer, and Matt five or six years ago, I could see they had also envisioned that same [trajectory].”

Self-belief is, to each member of the group, critical. Without it, Brockhampton never could have gotten past early stages. Originally, Abstract had partnered with Vann, Wood, Champion, and Joba back in high school; in 2011, he began recruiting additional members through a Kanye West fan forum. Trusting that the team he’d assembled could produce content worth his efforts, he moved the newly dubbed Brockhampton to a house in North Hollywood, where they would live together and make music.


“Everyone plays a part [in production] even if they’re not a musician or a writer,” explains Hemnani, 22. “It’s a team effort.”

Abstract likes it that way, believing Brockhampton’s inclusivity has given it a worthwhile raison d’etre. “Whatever we were saying in our music had to represent something and really stand for something,” he says. “I just wanted to do something with purpose.”

The group — a mixed-race, queer and straight group of creatives — derived this purpose from their diverse backgrounds. Some Brockhampton songs tackle toxic masculinity, homophobia, and racism; others dig deep into depression and anxiety. The spread is indicative of both Brockhampton’s ambitions and its members’ honesty with on another.

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“We make music about our lives,” offers McLennon, 25. “At the end of the day, that’s the core of what we do. [For other musicians] it’s either ‘started from the bottom’ or ‘I’m at the top, [explicit] with me.’ And there’s so much more to life than those two stories.”

Translating the heavier songs to a live setting was a particular challenge ahead of this tour, says Joba, 24, adding that the concert also had to effectively showcase each of Brockhampton’s 14 members.


According to Wood, that meant making the group’s homestead mobile.

“We live in a really big house, and it feels like we just took that house, which is also a company, on the road,” he says, laughing. “It’s the same energy we always have every day to be creating and collaborating, and now that we’re on the road, it’s like, ‘How can we make this the greatest production ever, using all of us?’ ”

Personally, Wood has no doubt they’ll pull it off, calling the tour a “team effort” — which, not-so-coincidentally given how often it comes up over the phone, is also the announced title of Brockhampton’s “Saturation” follow-up, due next year. The group will only tease it but say Brockhampton’s guiding principles — and assertion they’re the next great boy band — remain intact.

“We’re focusing way more on feeling and less on structure,” notes Manwa, 22. Abstract agrees; To Brockhampton, the vibe is everything.

“We just want people to feel something that they’ve never felt before,” he says. “Or at least, something they haven’t felt since they were little kids.”


At House of Blues, Boston, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.