What is a boy band? When most people are asked to describe a typical boy band, most will answer in the same way- over-produced bubble-gum pop aimed at tween girls, with boys in their early twenties picked straight from GAP catalogues and dropped in matching outfits. Wikipedia describes the music genre as a vocal group of men in their teens to early twenties, who market their pop-focused music to young girls and women. Some examples are NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, Boys II Men, the Jonas Brothers, and One Direction.
BROCKHAMPTON is a musical collective from San Marcos, Texas, focused in hip-hop and pop-rap, led by Kevin Abstract and including vocalists Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, and Dom McLennon. The complete team includes; vocalists/producers Joba and Bearface, producers Romil Hemnani, Jabari Manwa, and Kiko Merley, graphic designer Henock "HK" Sileshi, photographer Ashlan Grey, web designer Roberto Ontenient, and manager Jon Nunes.
A rap collective is described as a group of rappers who collaborate on projects together, but who don't necessarily perform together.
BROCKHAMPTON consider themselves a boy band. Specifically, an "All-American" boy band. What does it mean to be an "All-American Boy Band" in 2018?
"You can only get so far as a rap collective," former BROCKHAMPTON member Ameer Vann told Yours Truly. "Just by putting the name 'rap' on yourself, you've set a limit—but a pop star can do anything."
BROCKHAMPTON is well known for their breakdown of hip-hop stereotypes. From their diverse range of artists, to lyrics speaking out against misogyny and drug addiction, to raw and emotional lyrics touching on sexuality and mental illness.
"If we were to be all over MTV in the early 2000s and on every magazine, tabloid, press, billboard, and all that... Then we would change the standard," said Kevin Abstract in a Pigeons and Planes interview. "Then we would be considered perfect—these kids from a bunch of different nationalities and backgrounds that go by a boy band. Then there would be a ton of kids out there that identify with us and be like, 'I'm like that. I'm okay with being like that.'"
"Because we didn't look like Harry Styles in high school. But I definitely identified with Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean," Abstract said. "That was a boyband to me, even though they were a rap collective to everyone else. That's where the standard was for me. That was my perfect."
"We make pop music, so why is it so weird for us to be a boy band?" Former BROCKHAMPTON member Ameer Vann said in a Verge article. “I think people will start asking that question. Why is it okay for this group of people to be called a boy band and it draws no attention at all? But not this group of people, who are seemingly the same except for one thing, or a few things."
"New Edition is a fucking boy band and Boyz II Men is a man band," Vann said. "Those are never mentioned. They're like 'R&B soul groups,' not a boy band. But at the time, that was the popular music."
Times are changing. As rap becomes the new pop, the faces of mainstream music diversify, and the ever changing demand for new content from music audiences promotes inclusion and refreshing difference. BROCKHAMPTON are changing the definition of both boy band, and pop music, simply by refusing to conform.
I'll leave it up to Merlyn Wood to summarize why BROCKHAMPTON should be considered a boy band;
“We’re a boy band because we say we’re a boy band.”
A free preview of VICELAND's documentary series on the Texas rap group: