BROCKHAMPTON Kicks Ameer Out: Opinion Piece
Earlier today, American collective BROCKHAMPTON broke their silence by announcing Ameer Vann will no longer be a part of the band. In the statement shared on Twitter this afternoon, they ‘sincerely apologise’ to the victims for ‘not speaking up sooner’ and somewhat ambiguously admit they were ‘lied to,’ emphasising BROCKHAMPTON does not ‘tolerate’ abuse ‘of any kind.’
A few weeks ago, I woke up to the news that one of the band’s main vocalists, Ameer Vann, was being accused of relationship abuse and statutory rape. At the time, all band members had deactivated their social media accounts in preparation for the release of their upcoming record PUPPY, originally intended to come out on June 4th, so when a Reddit post linking to some of the accusations went viral, there was no immediate reaction from the band. In fact, there was no acknowledgement of the allegations whatsoever until the man himself made a return to Twitter and admitted some of these were true, although claiming to have never ‘criminally harmed anyone’ or ‘had relations with a minor.’
A few days ago, lead vocalist Kevin Abstract reopened his Instagram account and livestreamed himself admitting to feeling guilty about the band’s lack of response, but failing to say anything substancial about the issue itself; an unsatisfactory message, or lack thereof, for a fanbase avid to find out more. After a series of unfortunate tweets from fellow band member Jon Nunes, accusing the fanbase of taking things too far and asking it to ‘stop downplaying actual abuse,’ he either realised the dangerous connotation of his words – the response of the fanbase was to accuse him of being an abuse enabler himself– or was asked to take them down, but either way, the tweets were soon gone. This was certainly enough to cause a bigger commotion online. Was Ameer Vann really going to be allowed to continue to be a part of BROCKHAMPTON? Was there any more evidence the band wasn’t sharing with the world?
Band members being accused of sexual misconduct is not a new phenomenon. In the #MeToo era, when abuse victims coming forward has become more of a regular occurrence, the number of bands who can boast a ‘dodgy’ member has substantially grown. Most notably, there is Pinegrove, Moose Blood, or Nothing but Thieves, all of which continue to play festivals and/or sell records regardless of their respective controversies. So why should BROCKHAMPTON be any different?
Before I listened to BROCKHAMPTON for the first time, I already associated the name with ‘woke culture’; their reputation online is in no way misleading, as they proudly tackle issues like toxic masculinity, homophobia and rape culture in many of their songs. Turning ‘wokeness’ into a brand has not only worked out well for them, but it has made them into somewhat of a leading figure in a genre that has historically lacked welcoming spaces for discussions of the sort.
Let’s disregard the ethical aspects and dangerous consequences of condoning and platforming abuse perpetrators for a second. Let’s believe Vann has genuinely ‘changed’ for the better and deserves a ‘second chance,’ as many of his fans – same with Pinegrove’s, and XXXTentacion’s, and Chris Brown’s – are claiming. Even if this were true, from a perhaps more cynical standpoint, a band who has, I would argue, benefitted from having its image built around being socially aware, cannot afford to have a known abuser in its ranks. A (very loud) portion of the fanbase might forgive and forget, but, realistically, how long could BROCKHAMPTON have justified having Matt Champion spit bars about respecting women on the same stage as a man who has admitted to manipulating and disrespecting his previous partners, and who has been accused of sleeping with minors? How long until they can no longer sweep it under the rug, until the elephant in the room starts to make the crowds uncomfortable?
BROCKHAMPTON have now cancelled the remaining dates for their US tour and have said they are going home to ‘regroup.’ As a big fan of the band myself, I hope Abstract and his peers realise they’ve made the best decision – the only decision, I would argue – they could have made. Unless any more conflicting information comes out, I will continue to support the collective and look forward to seeing them perform in the UK this summer.