There’s a roar coming from the lobby of Alpine Cinema in Brooklyn.

Brockhampton producer Romil Hemnani just won two stuffed bears from a crane game, and fellow beatmaker Kiko Merley is running through the concessions area, yelling in celebration. Twenty feet away, rapper Merlyn Wood is blasting their new song “Sugar” through his backpack speakers while group leader Kevin Abstract scrolls through the Brockhampton subreddit and shares fan-created memes with fellow MC Matt Champion.

The boys are in a relaxed mood. They just released their new album, GINGER, and there’s a sense of relief in the air as they decompress from the group’s most challenging period since forming on the KanyeToThe forums in the early 2010s. It’s been 15 months since former member Ameer Vann parted ways with the band amid allegations of sexual misconduct, and nearly a year since they dropped a major-label debut album (Iridescence) that came as a letdown to some fans, despite critical praise. 

Signing a $15 million deal with RCA Records and contending with an internal crisis in front of an expanding audience, everyone in the group had to grow up fast. So they took a break from recording and moved into separate houses for the first time in the history of the band—a sudden departure from years of living and creating together in a home they dubbed the Brockhampton Factory, which relocated from Texas to Los Angeles in 2016.

Disrupting the creative environment that produced their breakout trilogy of Saturation albums in the summer of 2017 was a risk, but they all agree the change has been positive. If the Brockhampton Factory era was their dorm room experience, 2019 was a chance for every member of the group—all in their early to mid-20s—to finally test the benefits of independence. 

As he searches for the best words to describe the current era of Brockhampton, Kevin Abstract jokes, “All Grown Up! Like that cartoon show with the Rugrats.” Having battled through a traumatic period marked by Vann’s departure and the weight of expectations that come with a massive record deal, they emerged with a deeply personal album they all agree is their best work yet. Reenergized, they now have their sights set on the future, squarely focused on reaching as many people as possible and becoming the biggest artists in the world.

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