In my previous posts, I argued that “JUNKY”, though it takes on several different topics, overall critiques what it is like to be a young adult in todays American social and cultural climate. Additionally, the vocalists and their perspective discussions on different issues, culminate into an additional common theme: the effort to obtain and maintain an acceptable image. The best way to understand the individual issues that Brockhampton’s “JUNKY” is critiquing, is to break down each vocalist’s verse.


The song has an abrupt opening, jumping right into Kevin Abstract’s verse. The first line of the song is “I spit my heart out looking out for my best interests.” Though this is not as direct as some of the other lyrics in the song, it is emblematic for the songs overarching message which showcases the difficulties in growing out of adolescence in an unforgiving world and trying to fit oneself into the molds that society deems acceptable. The opening line of the song would fit perfectly in any other of the vocalists verses, because each of them touch their inability to change others, but the necessity to look out for themselves.


However, there is much more than just the opening line of Abstract’s verse to focus on, as he delivers some of the most raw and tempered lines of the whole song. A few lines in particular stand out to me, because these lines are overtly criticizing–it is easy to understand his frustration. Below are some of my favorite examples:

“I say shit when I rap and y’all n****s barely listen
I do the most for the culture, n****, by just existing
Delete my tweets ’cause I’m ashamed of being a fuckin’ Simpson
I told my mom I was gay; why the fuck she ain’t listen?
I signed a pub deal and her opinion fuckin’ disappearin'”

“Is it homophobic to only hook up with straight n****s?
You know like closet n****s, mask-type?
Why don’t you take that mask off?
That’s the thought I had last night
“Why you always rap about bein’ gay?”
‘Cause not enough n****s rap and be gay
Where I come from, n****s get called “f*****t” and killed”


It is very easy to pinpoint Abstract’s frustrations. He talks about how he tries to be so open and upfront about his sexuality in his music, but people still do not listen or understand. Instead, they criticize him for how often he speaks on the hardships of being a young, gay, black artist. He address the hate because he feels that it is too important to not talk about, he wants to normalize openness and acceptance which cant happen if he listens to the people who criticize him for rapping too much about being gay.


The verse that follows is Ameer Van’s discussion on mental health and drug addiction. Unlike the nature and structure of Abstract’s direct call-out style verse, Van’s opening verse is more poetic and repetitive, providing anecdotal imagery of drug addiction. Similar to Abstract, Van admits “I don’t trust nobody cause they don’t deserve it.” He speaks on the feeling of being alone and feeling purposeless;

“I ain’t under control, I’m losin’ motor function
I need an intervention, I need an exorcism
I need a therapist, paranoia and drug addiction
It’s very scary, my momma don’t even recognize me
I’m goin’ crazy, don’t need nobody to say they love me
My acts of desperation, I’m on an empty stomach
So fuck the consequences, I ain’t runnin’ from them”


The structure of each of the verses so far come to some sort of resolve: each end in an angry acceptance, they will face these hardships head on because what other choice do they have. It is this element, among others, that unifies the song. It is no longer about several separate issues, its about the way we overcome them.


Merlyn Wood’s verse is next in the song. Wood is known for being eccentric and not easily categorizable. His appearance in Brockhampton songs always drastically differs from song to song–many have argued that this is part of his artistic appeal. It is not always easy to pinpoint what he is trying to make the audience understand, an example of this is his role in the music video for “JUNKY”, which I will discuss in a later post. His verse in this son is much shorter than the others, but it still fits into the theme:

“If I had the option, I would do it all again
I just wanna feel like I did the right program
I just want to appeal to my dad and my cousins (Again)
When I cop that feel, I do not think ’bout diplomas
Love is knowin’ that you didn’t do it by your lonesome
So I forgive my mommy, daddy, auntie, and my uncles
For guilt-tripping feelings whenever they call my number”


Wood discusses his choice to leave college and pursue his artistic dreams, despite the way everyone in his life looked down on him. His verse is a personal and anecdotal commentary on a capitalist societal push for young adults to pursue education as the only option for financial security in their future. The final major verse is from Matt Champion. He discusses rape culture and modern relationships. This fits well with the songs overall criticism of modern American cultural and social values. The song encapsulates the modern American young-adult experience.