It’s easy to pin an existing label on a new movement: Soundcloud rap is the new punk, Kendrick Lamar is the new Tupac, etc. Over the past year, the rise of boyband Brockhampton has often been proclaimed as “the new Odd Future”. But really in sound, style, and overall aesthetic these groups are nothing alike. The comparison is merely a testament to the sense of comfort familiarising something we don’t understand creates. Brockhampton instead, is evidence of progression in hip-hop, a journey that began with Odd Future at the start of this decade. In reality really these groups don’t represent similarities but instead demonstrate hip-hop’s change in recent years.
Brockhampton originated in the same place Odd Future thrived: the internet. Beginning with a post on the forum KanyeToThe, Brockhampton became a movement that somewhat mirrored the intent of Odd Future, and that was to create a space for creatives to express themselves. However, while Odd Future was formed in 2007, an era in which while the internet existed, the braggadocio of hip-hop still ran rampant through artists like 50 Cent. In contrast, Brockhampton rose in a time of groups like Death Grips, in which saw the boundaries already begin to be abolished. The differentiation in eras saw Tyler, and the rest of Odd Future run away from the realms of hip-hop for the sake of self expression, while Brockhampton aimed to make hip-hop all inclusive with the influence of the internet opening the floodgates for cultural shift.
The difference between both groups isn’t only prominent by looking at the climates they exist in, but the juxtaposition in sounds and messages. Odd Future’s initial style consisted of dark, synth-heavy production and violent, graphical lyrics that resembles the themes of horrorcore and early Eminem. Aesthetically, they also embodied the unique, off-kilter sensibilities of their music, with instances such as Tyler The Creator sporting contact lenses and eating cockroaches in the ‘Yonkers’ video. Their whole ideology was to rebel against the normalities of hip-hop, and use sensationalist, nihilistic lyrics to cause a stir in contemporary music. Brockhampton however, uses a variety of sounds that range from melodic to aggressive, in order to tackle social issues, and provide spaces for inclusion in hip-hop. On ‘Junky’, Kevin Abstract tackles homophobia and his experience with sexuality, as well as other members such as Matt Champion tackling sexism on the track. While Odd Future used off-kilter sounds to separate themselves from the flock, Brockhampton uses the sounds of contemporary, rap and pop to make the flock a more open minded, welcoming place to exist.
As hip-hop constantly changes, so does the audiences the genre attracts. Looking at the audiences at the start of the decade compared to now, it becomes more prominent that both Odd Future and Brockhampton are completely different entities. As stated before, although we had artists like Kid Cudi and Kanye West around the time of Odd Future’s ascendance, it was still a predominantly egocentric genre where the music of artists like Gucci Mane, Jeezy, and Tyga tended to exclude demographics that didn’t consist of the same alpha-male stereotypes. Odd Future’s rebellion created an alternative to the likes of Atlanta trap and Chicago drill, providing a quirkier experimental take on the sounds of the mainstream for different audiences to consume. The imagery appeal to fans of metal, the chords appeals to fans of jazz, the eccentricity attracted music goers from all different types of genres, thus broadening the horizons of hip-hop. This movement spawned Mac Miller’s dive into existentialism, the stern honesty of Vince Staples, and a whole internet age that saw acts like Die Antwoord and Yung Lean become accepted in the rap community.
Along with this movement Brockhampton was created, and with their rise comes their ambition to continue expanding the deteriorating boundaries of hip-hop. Using their open-minded perspectives and progressive thinking to do so. The difference is that Brockhampton isn’t looking to be in a lane of their own like Odd Future—but instead change the existing lane to be a safer place for everyone.
- Image via: Instagram