BROCKHAMPTON is adamant that they are not a hip hop group. Instead, they see themselves as “The All American Boy Band.” Is it ironic or ahead of its time? Perhaps a little bit of both. Even so, “Dirt” found them looking pretty damn close to a hip hop group. But that isn’t the case with “CANNON.”
The video starts off tight on Jabari Manwa who explains that the following is his confession tape. We slowly pan out as he methodically snaps his fingers along to Kevin Abstract’s disillusioned verse.
“Don’t you know I do this for your family?
Cause mine ain’t believe in me
Left my hood so easily
Eat, sleep, wash sheets, repeat”
This theme of dejection in the face of relative fame continues in Merlyn Woods verse, bridging into the chorus which acknowledges there is still money to be made regardless of how they feel in the limelight. With just a quick couple of lines, Dom McLennon gets down to the meat of the matter, explaining that his fame will never be traditional. He’s here to fight off his demons, not save you from yours.
“Look me in my eyes, I’m lying for your entertainment
Do you follow?
I ain’t here as your role model
That pill is way too big to swallow
I hollowed out my path
Borrow all my sorrow but don’t expect me to take it back”
After updating us on his background, Ameer Vann explains why, despite their aversions to fame, the group trudges toward it. He aims to feed a hunger he’s had since youth. He’s tried to sate it with liquor but it seems to have a taste for money. The way he sees it, hip hop is hustle just like any other, one with higher risk but accordingly higher reward.
I’m still that little n–ga
With the little twisties
Waitin’ for the bus and I just missed it
That’s why I’m still hungry
Why you robbin’ n–gas?
That’s why I dream bigger, fuck a couple dollars
I want a hundred million
After looking closely at these lyrics, the outro becomes a bit clearer. As the song digresses into a meditation, we see BROCKHAMPTON, represented by Matt Champion, in a bout with the viewer. This brings to life BROCKHAMPTON’s feelings toward the public’s eye. The fame that comes with success is not a perk, it’s a side-effect, one they will accept begrudgingly on account of the money they stand to make. This is where their adamance that they are not a hip hop group clicks for me.
Just as Lil Yatchy is not a rapper or Lil Uzi Vert is a Rockstar, BROCKHAMPTON is an All-American Boy Band. And maybe this could be understood as a rejection of Hip Hop as a culture, but I think of it instead as an earnest understanding of reality. Hip hop has become a business, one BROCKHAMPTON aims to perform well in. They aren’t happy or excited about it. Instead, they reflect longingly on the simplicities of days gone by. But hip hop has been commodified and the shoe fits, so they wear it.
While you wait for BROCKHAMPTON’s sophomore effort to drop, check out their debut project ALL-AMERICAN TRASH.