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San Marcos, Texas has all the hallmarks of a sleepy American town: a library, a university, a shopping mall or two. It also happens to be the adopted birthplace of the greatest boyband on earth.

Four years ago now, a pack of young men from across the sun-scorched states centred on the city, creating a musical project that – whether they knew it or not – would eventually become one of the most talked about hip-hop groups of the decade. Their name is Brockhampton, and they’re America’s strongest creative brotherhood.

Since that moment, kids of the internet and hip-hop heavyweights alike have embraced them: a group that steadily rose from their humble beginnings on a Kanye West fan forum (where founding member Kevin Abstract put a call-out for musicians wanting to start a band) to tearing up Coachella and performing primetime TV. Their ascent is particularly profound thanks to Abstract’s gay identity. The 22-year-old’s lyrics are laden with allusions to the man he loves and flagrant fellatio gags, but they also dwell on the pressures of being ‘othered’ – like so many of the Brockhampton boys – by the environment he grew up in.

Now located in LA, they’ve closed the door on the past few years of hysteria (chronicled on 2017’s energetic and hookish Saturation album trilogy) and started a new chapter that sees them ruminating on sudden change: the recent removal of founding member Ameer Vann following accusations of sexual misconduct and signing a major label record deal.

Recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios, the band’s fourth full-length LP iridescence is a singular hip-hop record shaped by the emotions of young men occupying a scrutinising and unfamiliar spotlight. “We’ve had a little bit of time to reflect on our growth instead of making a bunch of fun stuff over and over,” explains Abstract. “We’re trying to find a balance between fun and maturity. It’s real life.”

The record is complicated and incensed, experimental and sad, but after years of clambering their way to the top, Brockhampton finally know we’re listening. It’s time for everybody to take note.

Brockhampton were shot in LA by Damien Maloney.

Photography: Damien Maloney
Styling: Ashley Guerzon
Studio: Forge LA