They call themselves the best boy band since One Direction, and they’re a young group of guys breaking the mold of what it means to be a rap group in 2018. Their leader, Kevin Abstract, is openly gay in the rap community and raps about it fervently. They blend an insane amount of styles and their song “JUNKY.” includes a verse by member Matt Champion about treating women with respect.
Earlier last week, member Ameer Vann, who is pictured on their three album covers and has been with the group since the very beginning, was accused of abusing women and having sexual relationships with minors (quite the opposite message). Vann denied both claims and Kevin Abstract acknowledged that, while he wasn’t aware of Vann committing any of the accused actions, he did note that Vann had been “getting help” for “the past year.”
Taking the stage at Boston Calling, the group had amazing energy right off the bat, especially from JOBA, Merlyn, and Dom, and it reminded me of the fantastic concert from last February here in New York. One member was missing on stage however, as Ameer Vann wasn’t present with the entire rest of the group at the festival.
It may seem like a no brainer, of course the artist with sexual assault allegations wouldn’t make an appearance, but it’s not so common when it comes to the world of rap music as one might think. XXXTentacion is still popular despite abusing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Chris Brown still makes music despite beating Rihanna, Spotify’s R. Kelly mute didn’t reduce his streams at all despite probably having some sort of sex cult where he grooms minors, and the festival’s headliner Eminem still raps about murdering his ex-wife while screaming homophobic slurs.
Sure, it was a no brainer that Vann wasn’t performing with them, but that’s only if you’re a rational human being with a good head on your shoulders and do what’s right. If anything, it’s probably more disheartening that I was surprised he wasn’t there because it’s not what I was used to, meaning that I was more surprised the group acted than dismissed all claims.
The group was silent through where Vann’s verses would have been and let the music play out. They cried before the last song and then walked off stage. The next morning, they announced that not only was the remaining U.S. tour cancelled and album release delayed, but that Ameer Vann was no longer part of the group.
— BROCKHAMPTON (@brckhmptn) May 27, 2018
It is beyond a doubt in my mind that it was the right move, and I’m proud of the group for standing up for what’s right and saying that this kind of action is not tolerated, but their performance told another side of the story about Ameer Vann’s departure.
Ameer Vann wasn’t just a rapper who sexually assaulted women but he was also at one time their friend, and it’s some pretty hard news to deal with that someone close to you has committed some horrible actions. It’s not to take away from the fact that Vann’s dismissal was entirely just and the right call, but watching a group of young musicians have to deal with the disappointments of a close friend’s actions was devastating, especially as Dom McLennon consoled JOBA and Kevin Abstract for a good five to eight minutes.
.@brckhmptn today broke my heart pic.twitter.com/OaAtE80JSs
— suzy (@suzycrabgras) May 27, 2018
It was a heartbreaking performance to see in real time, but I’m incredibly proud of them for taking a step in the right direction.
What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.