The internet wins again, conceiving its first “boyband” — or so these boys claim.
Forged through high school camaraderie and a Kanye fan forum thread, KanyeToThe, BROCKHAMPTON has been bumpin and grindin for three years now. Impressively, the 14-member crew has managed to shell out a three-part mixtape series in a matter of seven months. The third installment of the SATURATION trilogy saw release this past month, giving fans the last bit of fuel needed for the band’s second headlining outing, the “Love Your Parents Tour.”
The Ritz welcomed BROCKHAMPTON Friday night for a sold-out show, as it performed heavy hitters from all three SATURATION albums. With every type of hyphenated-Americans in one room, the crowd was just as young, diverse and vibrant as the group it came to see. Opening with the first song off of SATURATION III, “BOOGIE,” the crowd immediately went off to the saxophone riff and two-siren alarm which make this N.E.R.D.-esque song so hype. The boys donned orange jumpsuits. A familiar costume choice to that of J. Cole’s during his own “4 Your Eyez Only Tour,” the garb revealed that generation Z may possess a sort of awareness to the socio-political climate of our country. Or maybe it was just the most economical fashion choice.
The energy BROCKHAMPTON brought to the stage was infectious and provoked mania out of the crowd. The force that drives this group together is magnetic. Members all shine individually, but are far more effective as one unit, complementing one another’s unique performance styles. Kevin Abstract, leader and founder of the band, asked the crowd for more energy as BROCKHAMPTON hit them with “GUMMY.” Tracks like “ZIPPER” showcased Merlyn Wood’s manic charm. Slower cuts like “FACE” highlighted wildcard member JOBA’s vocal abilities. Yet pinpointing a song that demonstrates the skills of Kevin Abstract, Ameer Van, Dom McLennon and Matt Champion would be too difficult as they each delivered every verse with as much conviction as its recorded versions. It was satisfying to see these voices come to life through these extraordinary personalities.
Bringing awareness to health and safety, the boys offered water throughout the show. Ameer offered the fans a reason to go even more bezerk: “You paid money for this, enjoy yourself!”
The short breaks and quick monologues were much appreciated as the focus was heavy on the music.The boys took a breath as they sat down in their respective chairs to sing “BLEACH,” offering the crowd with a sing-along opportunity which it gladly took. After a hefty set from the six main rappers of the group, Bearface came out to perform “SUMMER” and “TEAM.” The suite was a perfect and much-needed break from the 45-minute electro, hip-hop and funk explosion. The boys came back hard with “HEAT” and closed the show with “STAR.”
Kevin, impressed with the crowd, tweeted after the show, “Tampa wins the entire tour wow.”JOBA also recognized the energy brought by Tampa tweeting, “Tampa went the fuck off!”
Walking out of the show left me hopeful. Though many older hip-hop heads may disagree with the trajectory of the genre’s sound and a new generation’s take on it, I’m left very impressed knowing that that our youth yearns for diversity, equality and to hear about topics that have been taboo in hip-hop since its inception. Kevin, known for openly talking about being gay and his sexuality while Matt has been praised for addressing rape culture. These boys are not just trying to defy genres, but also trying be a positive influence to the culture they’re participating in. In my personal opinion, BROCKHAMPTON is doing more for the culture than its elders.
Here’s a quick run-down of the members:
Kevin Abstract- founder/leader, rapper
Ameer Van- rapper
Merlyn Wood- rapper
Dom McLennon- rapper
Matt Champion- rapper
JOBA- rapper, singer, production
Bearface- singer, production
Romil Hemnani- production
Jabari & Kiko Merley (together known as Q3)- production
HK- creative direction, graphic design
Robert Ontenient- webmaster, spoken word vocals
Jon Nunes- management