The band performs at one of their first shows, 2017.FLICKR/Trevor Dykstra (

While they first came to prominence in 2017 with the SATURATION trilogy, BROCKHAMPTON was founded in 2010 under the name AliveSinceForever, following discussions on a forum for fans of Kanye West. They are self-defined as a boy-band, if only in an attempt to redefine the term, and they produced six studio albums before announcing an indefinite hiatus in January of this year.

This has since proved to be a muddled and cynical end for a popular and critically acclaimed group, and speculation on the possibly artificial nature of the group’s break-up tells us a lot about the current state of the music industry.

“Something feels a little fishy about the band’s attempt to rebrand itself as a perpetual breakup machine”

The phrase “indefinite hiatus”, in itself, is open to speculation. There is no sense of permanency in either word: both “indefinite” and “hiatus” entail that the band could regroup at any time if they decided to. Upon the announcement, two final sets of live shows were announced. In early February, they performed at O2 Academy Brixton, and they recently performed – for what they claim to be the final time – at Coachella.

This timespan between the announcement and the latter live shows is curious unto itself. In an era of pandemics and ruptured plans, live-show cancellations are nothing out of the ordinary – indeed, the group cancelled their own tour in the same announcement. If the band was so determined to embark on an indefinite hiatus, why would they continue as a group for three more months, simply to perform a single show?

In mid-April, frontman Kevin Abstract announced merchandise for their last show, including a jumper featuring a birthday-style cake which reads “Happy Break-up XOXO”, and a jacket reading “All Good Things Must Come To An End”. Then, after their final performance, the group miraculously announced that their seventh studio album, a previously cancelled, fan-produced project, will indeed be released sometime before the end of the year.

Needless to say, something feels a little fishy about the band’s attempt to rebrand itself as a perpetual breakup machine. While there is no way of knowing the group’s future plans, they could easily make a quick buck by manipulating their fanbase into believing that they will no longer be producing music or performing, then take a break for a year or two, and reunite. There is nothing stopping them from doing this. An indefinite hiatus has no permanency to it, nor does a break-up. These could well be transitory moments in a band’s history, easily forgotten once the group re-forms.

“Bands have always been corporate entities, but the music industry seems to be becoming more and more aware that it is not only music that they can turn to profit”

Of course, this is a cynical interpretation, led mainly by the conceit that the group, despite being a creative and quality-driven powerhouse in the way that the majority of artists are not, is still a corporate entity. Merchandising a break-up so heavily, especially in a band that connects so strongly with so many people, is bound to be perceived as manipulative, even if this was not the initial intention. When it does drop, this “final” album will no-doubt fit in with the rest of BROCKHAMPTON’s discography in it’s consistency. Yet for many fans there might be a shallowness to the music, borne of the knowledge – knowledge constantly renewed by the band’s insistence upon emotional weight – that they are only customers, and that the emotional climax of this break-up might be just another performance.

Stunts like these are not unprecedented. For every clean, permanent, Beatles-like breakup, and for every classy departure of a group like Daft Punk, there are the drawn-out squeals of a group like The Pixies or ABBA being stretched on the rack, their departures spanning messily over years. Bands have always been corporate entities, but the music industry seems to be becoming more and more aware that it is not only music that they can turn to profit: emotional events within groups can also be monetised, if the stunt is carefully thought through.


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The arguments made in this article are not intended to indict the members of BROCKHAMPTON, and especially not the quality of their music. In fact, this case study is especially important to discuss because it demonstrates how even the most genuine and personal artists can be forced into negatively using their power over their audiences in order to maintain relevancy and boost profit. There is no way of knowing whether BROCKHAMPTON will re-emerge somewhere down the line. It certainly seems probable. All we, as consumers, can do, is vote with our wallets, and call out this sort of behaviour when we see it, rather than playing into the hands of an increasingly manipulative industry.