I must admit that I was pretty late to the BROCKHAMPTON game. I had listened to SATURATION I and II when they came out and thought that while the projects definitely had their highlights, they were patchy. Let's be real, “SWIM” is just an Owl City song. In the interest of being ~edgy~, I felt pretty good about avoiding the hype train and was absolutely one of those Odd Future fans who felt threatened that there was a new rap collective in town.
SATURATION III changed everything for me. I remember pulling up the album on Spotify, absolutely ready to dismiss it and being totally crestfallen that it was incredible. I quickly returned to their first two albums and on second listening became convinced of their worth, thus completing my embarrassing u–turn. Newly blooded as a BROCKHAMPTON fan, therefore, I jumped at the opportunity to see them at the TLA for the Love Your Parents tour. The concert was one of the most varied and unique live acts I've experienced in recent times, but what really stood out for me that wasn’t especially apparent while listening to the album at home was the diversity of the group’s individual voices and their potential for fruitful solo careers. These are the ones I’m most excited about.
Russel “JOBA” Boring is anything but his namesake. Hailing as part of the group’s Texas contingent, JOBA is the group’s only classically trained musician and the musical glue which binds the group’s diverse sound together. It is his willingness to integrate unique sounds and his creative ambition which is at the heart of BROCKHAMPTON’s (now) trademark genre–bending sound.
He has grown in stature among the group across the projects; starting as their sound engineer, he is now one of BROCKHAMPTON’s most integral producers and performers, and boy, he can do it all. Whether he’s screaming maniacally from a freezer or crooning the gentle hook on “FACE," JOBA’s approach is instantly recognizable. “TOKYO” and “SWEET” have him paying homage to his love of *NYSNC with palpable charisma, and he has producer credits on several of the his group’s most accomplished songs, such as “TEAM” and “GUMMY."
We have very little of JOBA’s solo material to go on, although he allegedly has had an entire album ready since 2016. What he has put out, however, is highly promising. His gentle features on fellow member Matt Champion’s catchy “Fangs” (which I will discuss later) and Medasin’s “Daydream” hint at a poppier range, which comes to a head on his only single, the gorgeous “Sad Saturdays." If he can bring any semblance of the versatility, ambition and creativity we’ve seen on all three SATURATION albums to his solo work, man, I’m excited.
Matt Champion can write a pop song
Another member of the BROCKHAMPTON Texas contingent, Matt Champion is one of the group’s primary vocalists and the genius behind “RENTAL," arguably the best song off SATURATION III. He is particularly famous for his verse on “JUNKY," which tackles rape culture in rap music—“Where the respect? Is you ass human?”—something that even the most forward–thinking and socially conscious rappers can't avoid. I'm lookin' at you on "Smoke Break," Chance.
Alongside his activism and interesting lyrics, it’s clear from BROCKHAMPTON’s videos and concert performances that this man absolutely oozes charisma. This confidence is reflected in his already accomplished songwriting, especially on his lead single “Fangs," on which he enlists JOBA’s help to sing the hook. He departs from his more aggressive style as a member of BROCKHAMPTON and has committed to a "vibier," more guitar–based sound. From what we’ve seen so far on “Mansions” and “Burn," the latter of which is an ambitious, eight–minute track where Champion sings and raps, it seems that a successful solo career is almost inevitable with a start as promising as this.
I need more Bearface immediately
Why doesn’t Bearface have more songs?
“TEAM” and “SUMMER” are easily two of the group’s most haunting and recognizable numbers; so much so that Bearface has his own separate segment during each BROCKHAMPTON concert. Due to this, it's very easy to imagine what a Bearface solo career would look like since every song he contributes on is largely an individual effort.
His sentimental (yet somehow not cheesy) lyrics, gorgeous mid–2000s voice and virtuoso guitar playing mark him out as an immediate contrast to the rest of the group. A physical outsider too, hailing from Northern Ireland, Bearface is easily the most incongruous member of the group. Instead of simply providing his traditional cameo at the end of an album, I would love to see Bearface put together an entire project himself; he certainly has the talent to warrant it.
Ameer Vann is fascinating
Kevin Abstract and Anthony Fantano have both described Vann as the "star" of the group’s SATURATION series due to his prominence on all three album covers, and his distinctive lyrical delivery, referred to by Fantano as the “BROCKHAMPTON flow."
Not as much is known about Veer’s past as other BROCKHAMPTON members, although it is clear he is highly influenced by his faith, stating in many interviews just how much he consults the Bible in his writing progress. Juxtaposed against his frank, gruff style, this creates a unique delivery. His SoundCloud is relatively sparse, but there are hints of something potentially intriguing there. The standout track is "Black Snake Moan," which is a powerful, poetic discussion about his unfortunate upbringing, almost reminiscent of Resurrection–era Common or even Earl Sweatshirt.
And these are just the members I’m personally excited about. Dom McLennon has already developed a decent following on Spotify, Merlyn Wood is one of the group's largest characters, and, of course, Kevin Abstract released American Boyfriend in 2016 to relatively universal acclaim. It seems that the sky truly is the limit from the platform that has become BROCKHAMPTON. Just how long this concentration of immense talent can continue to coexist isn’t clear. In that sad, almost inevitable event, we’ve got a lot to look forward to.