As a fan of the hip-hop/rap collective Brockhampton, stylized as BROCKHAMPTON, since its first SATURATION album, I walked into The Warfield in March with the unadulterated excitement of a child coming face-to-face with Mickey Mouse on their first venture to Disneyland. As a frequent concertgoer, I saw the group put on one of the best shows I’ve been to, thriving relentlessly in energy, sound and performance.
Ever since that night, I’ve been eagerly waiting for the next announcement of tour dates to hopefully get the chance to see Brockhampton again. As of now, that experience will never be quite the same after Ameer Vann’s removal from the boy band over sexual misconduct claims.
On May 12, Rhett Rowan, who was previously romantically involved with Vann, called the rapper emotionally manipulative and “mentally abusive” in a tweet thread detailing his abusive actions throughout their relationship. Since that thread, Rowan tweeted that several previous members of Brockhampton have reached out to her to apologize for “witnessing it and not saying anything.”
Vann responded to these claims in a tweet, saying: “Although my behavior has been selfish, childish, and unkind, I have never criminally harmed anyone or disrespected their boundaries. I have never had relations with a minor or violated anybody’s consent.” If you ask me, Rowan’s two tweets recounting Vann choking her until she blacked out describe behavior that is not just selfish, childish and unkind — it’s inexcusable. Since his response to the allegations, Vann has deleted his Twitter account.
Brockhampton fans across the world shed conflicted tears after the boy band released a Twitter statement May 27 announcing the removal of Vann from the group. The tweet apologized to the victims of Vann’s abuse and stated the group’s intention to support the women with the action of Vann’s removal.
If you search “Ameer Vann” on Twitter, the thread of responses shows exactly how some fans are negatively reacting to this decision, with one saying, “Leave it to Twitter stans to mess up someone’s whole career.” Countless reaction videos were posted on YouTube, one even titled “The Day BROCKHAMPTON Died,” discussing the severity of the situation for the artistic futures of the current band members. Frankly, this attitude shows that some care more about the badass verses Vann contributed to Brockhampton than the fact that there are women still hurting over the abuse they faced.
On May 26, Brockhampton performed at the Boston Calling Music Festival, the first big show the band played without Vann’s name in the introduction. During the group’s set, the rappers had a hard time keeping it together as Vann’s verses remained silent. Tears were shed and hugs exchanged, showing that fans are not the only ones conflicted over the loss of the talented rapper.
The face of all three of the SATURATION albums, Vann arguably threw the hardest verses in most of the songs, bringing the gritty attitude with his drug-riddled lines. The 21-year-old rapper was a classic example of an artist who turned the darkness of his past into success and flipped his life around, or so he’d let us all believe prior to the allegations. While he has rapped about wanting to change — “I ain’t the same n—- that I once was” — some of his lines on the exact same album still suggested violence against women.
With lines such as “I love to watch ‘em squirm / I love when bitches bleed / If she’s sucking on the barrel / You can’t hear her scream” from the song “HEAT” and “Beat the pussy to submission” in “STAR,” Vann’s attitude toward women does not seem to be positively improving.
Several questions arise for the stability of the new wave boy band after this occurrence: How will the group continue performing its SATURATION trilogy in the absence of Vann, considering how present he is in nearly all of the songs? Additionally, how will the group redefine itself going forward without one of its most popular members?
In an Instagram live stream, Kevin Abstract announced that the band is pushing back its newest album, PUPPY, presumably to give the band a chance to remove Vann’s verses from the tracks before a public release.
Despite all this, I will continue to support Brockhampton in its decision to remove Vann. The group made the conscious decision in order to protect its fan base, its reputation and the women affected by Vann’s actions, not because the members want to see Vann suffer.
This year, Brockhampton signed with RCA Records, played countless festivals, released successful merch drops and prepared fans for its new album, whenever it may release. If you ask me, it’ll be just fine without Vann clouding over all the progressive work the group has done, including the support of inclusivity for LGBTQ+ people in the rap community and the recognition of mental health struggles.
Sure, we as fans may miss his edgy verses and angry sentiments, but one less abuser in the art is a step in the right direction for this Texas boy band and the greater mission of the music industry to promote art as a safe space.