The topics covered and protested in Brockhampton’s “JUNKY” are not unique to the band or to the genre. Topics of homosexuality and drug addiction have been tackled through music long before the group started putting out music, but only more recently have these topics been productively addressed in hip hop. As I noted in my previous post, socially conscious hip hop is a rapidly growing genre and it is something that Brockhampton have been able to embody well, especially with “JUNKY”.

To explore the musical lineage which precedes Brockhampton’s discography, it is essential to assess what makes Brockhampton so impactful within the genre of socially conscious hip hop.

They appeal to a younger demographic by their semi-ironic description of their group as a “boy band”. By embodying some traits of traditional boy bands–younger members and songs with a distinct pop sound–as well as being the anthesis of the very category they claim to be in, they are an effectual metaphor for the young adults of today. They appeal to the bitter reality of adulthood in an unforgiving modern America. This, in conjunction with their diverse members, helps the groups relate-ability  when appealing to marginalized demographics.

“JUNKY” was released in 2017. Prior to this release, there were several other songs which cover similar subject matter, therefore existing in the same musical lineage and genre. Songs like The Black Eyed Peas “Where is The Love?” and Queen Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y” directly discuss the issues of 21st century American social and cultural society. These two songs, though tackling difficult subject matter, are lighter and objectively easier to listen to as they are serve more as an anthem rather than a lament. However, there are plenty of format and structure similarities between “JUNKY” and “U.N.I.T.Y”. For example, the rap verses in both songs is very punctuated with anger, angst, and assertiveness. These songs both cover topics of the unequal treatment of women and how young women in particular are over sexualized. Additionally, Frank Ocean’s 2012 song “Forrest Gump” marks a notable time in the hip hop and socially conscious hip hop genres. Ocean released “Forrest Gump” around the time he came out as gay. There were not many hip hop artists who were openly gay at this time, and “Forrest Gump” tackles this issue in a less direct, deeply metaphorical, and complex way by Ocean singing through the perspective of Jenny from the movie Forrest Gump. Ocean does this to sing about the pain from his own breakup. Though “JUNKY” tackles homophobia in a slightly more direct and assertive manner, the similarities between the two songs come from their poetic and metaphoric lyrics to articulate the pain of being in the closet.