Sure, Romil may have incredible eyebrows and jaw-dropping beats – but there’s far more to him than meets the eyes (or ears). Here’s everything you need to know about the producer, DJ, and chief architect of Brockhampton’s genre-defying sound: Romil Hemnani.
Who is Romil Hemnani?
Actual Name: Romil Hemnani
Birthday: April 6, 1995
Romil Hemnani is a producer and DJ for “the best boy band
since One Direction of All Time”, BROCKHAMPTON. He’s the most charismatic member of the bunch and his production offers a distinctly new direction for hip hop inspired by Tyler, the Creator, Pharrell Williams, Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and Kid Cudi.
Brockhampton is filled with passionate personalities, but Romil stands out from the rest (and not just because of those voluminous eyebrows).
when i was in 6th grade, all the 8th graders would make fun of my eyebrows but look at me now bitch. good luck filling in your eyebrows like mine these are all natural
— romil (@romilhemnani) December 17, 2017
Although he doesn’t get as much screen time as the group’s vocalists, Romil brings a tangible energy and enthusiasm to Brockhampton’s group vibe that is hard to miss. His easygoing personality, charisma, and authenticity makes him a big fan favorite. Romil is also the group’s most active member on social media, giving us all an accessible window into the group’s dynamic.
Brockhampton has three primary producers: Jabari Manwa, Kiko Merley, and Romil Hemnani. Each is hugely talented and brings their own flavor to Brockhampton’s music, but overall Romil is considered the most influential member on the group’s production. He produced 33 of the 48 songs in the Saturation Trilogy, plus the entire trilogy was recorded in his bedroom. If you love the genre-blending sound that makes Brockhampton so unique, Romil is the best place to start expressing your appreciation.
“A mistake that I made personally is that I would look up to my idols and want to be just like them – rather than be like, ‘Well, my idols were just being themselves…’” – Romil Hemnani
Before we go any further, let’s all take a moment to practice our pronunciations.
How Romil IS pronounced: “Roe-mill”
How Romil is NOT pronounced: “Raw-mill”, “Rah-mull”, “Row-Meal”
Romil Hemnani is from a little town in northern Connecticut called South Windsor. South Windsor is a suburb of the city of Hartford, which doubles as the capital of Connecticut and hometown of fellow Brockhampton member Dom McLennon.
Romil began producing music at a young age in his bedroom, something he would continue later on from the confines of the Brockhampton factory. Romil’s family is of Pakistani origins, which makes a lot of sense considering the middle eastern influences that shine through on some Brockhampton’s music, particularly on Saturation II (see FIGHT, CHICK, and STUPID). He and his family are very close.
my mom and dad hahahaha pic.twitter.com/F55OeB5oHp
— romil (@romilhemnani) September 13, 2017
Romil’s Early Career and Brockhampton Beginnings
Although Romil’s career really took off with the SATURATION trilogy, the young beat master began making a name for himself as early as 2012.
Much of Romil’s early production work was done with Kevin Abstract and Dom McLennon under the loose collective known as Alive Since Forever, years before the BROCKHAMPTON we know and love came into existence. Some of Romil’s earliest work was done under the guise of “ROME” on Dom McLennon’s Sandy Shore Motel mixtape from 2012.
Romil, along with Kevin Abstract, is the core that Alive Since Forever and ultimately BROCKHAMPTON formed around. Unlike the members of Brockhampton who attended high school in Houston together, including Merlyn Wood, Matt Champion, and JOBA, Romil linked up with the group through online forums – starting with webmaster/part-time producer Roberto Ontinient.
i met roberto on a lupe fiasco forum when we were like 14 hahaha oh man this is awesome wow https://t.co/1CWg0mqNcl
— romil (@romilhemnani) February 13, 2018
In 2014, Romil made his full debut as a producer on Kevin Abstract’s debut album MTV1987. Romil produced the twelve track album in its entirety, showing off an impressive amount of versatility for a producer so early into their career. Romil also recruited Brockhampton’s resident poet and lyrical mastermind Dom McLennon to the squad before committing to the dream and moving to Texas.
“We all connected through social media. [Romil] added me on Facebook, and I was surprised to find out he lived fairly close to me. We ended up going to Buffalo Wild Wings to talk about this music thing he was doing with Mike, who’s also in Alive Since Forever, and the rest is kinda history.” – Dom McLennon, No Fillers Mag (2013)
Together, the group moved to San Marcos, Texas, where Romil would release his first EP, Memorial Day, with Kevin Abstract and Bearface under the moniker NOWIFIII. During this time, the group began coalescing into the art collective/boy band it is today.
“We lived [in Texas] for a year and we worked on a lot of music. We spent that time getting better at what we do, building a group chemistry, figuring out how to be a boy band, because so much of our work prior to moving in together was done over the internet, text messages, email, whatever, and that was how we would make songs. So we had to learn how to work together in a new way, and that’s what we spent that year doing.” – Romil Hemnani, Fader (2017)
Romil’s Role in Brockhampton
If Kevin Abstract drives the Brockhampton-mobile, then Romil is its engine. Romil Hemnani personifies the DIY attitude, dedication to self-improvement, and experimental approach that spills into everything Brockhampton does. For each installment in the Saturation series, for example, he used different software, plugins, and even sported different hairstyles.
Romil is constantly interjecting in group interviews and bouncing around the stage at their shows. He engages with fans, often taking the most time after shows to meet and take pictures with supporters. He also is willing to sacrifice his own ego for the good of the group, prioritizing the success of Brockhampton as a whole above all else. Romil Hemnani is Brockhampton’s ultimate team player.
“If the team wins you win, no? You’ve gotta be a team player and adjust your roll accordingly… Production should be there for [the artist]… it should bring out the best in the artist.” – Romil Hemnani
Romil in Brockhampton’s Music
Romil Hemnani is the chief architect of Brockhampton’s sound, and served the same role for a large portion of Kevin Abstract’s solo work and the group’s early work as Alive Since Forever.
Romil conjures genre-fusion beats with great depth. They rise and fall. They change beats. They build mind-shattering climaxes. They showcase fascinating intros unlike anything else in the game. Romil builds these tracks with a variety of instruments and software but his favorite is the Mellotron, an early forefather of the synthesizer.
Romil Hemnani’s production style is somewhere between alternative rap & anti-pop but his sound defies simplistic labels, showing great dynamism as it evolves between albums, songs, and sometimes even individual verses. Romil strives to showcase and support each individual vocalist on his tracks as best as possible, rather than simply trying to create “hard beats”. This selfless approach is a big reason why Brockhampton’s music is so unique and why he is extremely picky about who he works with.
“When we’re making music we are very in sync. We have very similar ears and taste and we’ll hear the song going (in) the same direction. That’s why I’m very particular about who I work with, because if I can’t believe in it and I don’t see the world the same way as you, it’s not gonna work for me.” – Romil Hemnani, Dazed Digital (2017)
Romil Hemnani produced most of the early solo work by Brockhampton’s members including Matt Champion (“Fangs”, “Mansions”, “Salud”), Dom McLennon (“Recess”, “I Wanna Go”, “Patriot”), and Kevin Abstract (Kilmer 2 and the entirety of Abstract’s debut album MTV1987).
In 2015, Romil showcased his talents in a new genre on MEMORIAL DAY, a grunge rock project that he created with Kevin Abstract and Bearface. Romil allegedly provides vocals on the EP, but it’s nearly impossible to identify his voice through all the guitar and distortion.
Romil also showcased his production abilities with a few other collaborations outside of the Brockhampton family before the SATURATION era, including John Waltz’s “Anna” and Abhi//Dijon’s “light demo*****”.
Romil & the SATURATION Trilogy
Brockhampton as a whole grew significantly through the seven month run that saw them go on two national tours and release three studio albums in the latter parts of 2017. But nowhere was the musical maturation so tangible as it was in Romil Hemnani’s production.
The evolution heard throughout the SATURATION series is inextricably intertwined with Romil’s growth as a producer. Not only were all three of the albums recorded in Romil’s bedroom, but over 68% of the trilogy’s 48 songs were produced by him.
Here’s a breakdown of Romil’s contributions, album by album (keep in mind that Brockhampton has two other producers, and other members with production experience like Dom McLennon and JOBA).
Saturation I: (9/17 tracks)
- SKIT 1
- SKIT 2
- SKIT 3
Saturation II: (12/16 tracks)
- SCENE 2
Saturation III: (12/15 tracks)
- CINEMA 1
- CINEMA 2
- SISTER / NATION
- CINEMA 3
“Production should be there for [the artist]… it should bring out the best in the artist.”
Romil’s idea of great production is music that “brings out the best in the artist”, allowing them to flourish by accentuating their strengths and supporting their weaknesses. In this respect, the young beat maker’s growth as a producer is incredibly conspicuous through the evolution of the SATURATION trilogy.
On Saturation 1, Romil’s production tended to err between too simplistic to be memorable and showcase the artist (TRIP, SWIM), and so heavy that it overwhelmed the vocalists (HEAT – although I love the track). Despite this Romil did hit a perfect balance on several songs, including MILK and BUMP.
On Saturation 2, Romil begins to figure it out. In particular, he starts adding great depth to his tracks with extremely satisfying intros (GUMMY) and outtros (CHICK). He also adds depth to the evolution within each track, bringing the beat down on verses and accentuating the differences in each vocalist’s voice, then building energy up to the choruses (TOKYO, CHICK). He does all this and more on JUNKY, one of the album’s standout tracks. JUNKY uses creative bass modulations to slowly grow within each verse and between verses. Compare the beat behind Merlyn’s verse and Kevin’s verse, for example – each are specifically designed to compliment the vocalist’s part. And it’d be sacrilegious to discuss the song without mentioning that damn breakdown to the chorus – some truly impressive production.
If Saturation 2 was when Romil the producer grew up, Saturation 3 was when he assumed the throne. Every beat he conjured for the album is equal parts immaculate and unusual. They grow, they develop, they bump, they croon. The peak of Romil’s production on the album lies in the track SISTER/NATION – his Mona Lisa, for which he was the sole producer. The song’s first half is a high energy blend of N.E.R.D. and something from Kanye West’s Yeezus that absolutely bangs. Then the transition to NATION’s beautiful psychedelic chords: which is a beauty itself, developing gradually over multiple verses before passing the song along harnessing the vocals of Kevin Abstract.
Romil’s Musical Influences
Romil pulls influence from a variety of artists, many who doubled as their own producers. The majority of these artists are known for their ability to blend the lines between genre, including hip hop, rock, pop, funk, and soul. Romil’s greatest influence is indubitably Pharrell Williams, the King of Pop and architect of just about everything to hit the radio in the 1990’s and 2000’s. In addition to Pharrell, Romil’s biggest influences also include:
- Kid Cudi
- Kanye West
- Frank Ocean
- Tyler, the Creator
- Re-up Gang
“I think empathy is very important in our music, because a lot of us grew up not really identifying with the people around us, but more with these people we looked up to, like Frank Ocean and Kid Cudi. And it just seems right to pass that on.” – Romil Hemnani
Potential for Solo Career
Out of the whole of Brockhampton, Romil’s ceiling may be the highest. His ability to translate nearly any genre or emotion into something radio-friendly without watering it down is something special. Romil also approaches his craft like a true professional, always striving to improve and better himself:
im so happy to be back in the studio making music. i will bring you the best i have to offer with the same dedication that kobe has on the court.
— romil (@romilhemnani) February 21, 2018
I’ve made so many awful songs in my life but you gotta suck at something before you get good at it
— romil (@romilhemnani) February 14, 2018
Romil has shown that he’s capable of great things – and even more so has shown a willingness to experiment simply for the sake of trying something new. His passion for innovation and depth through simplicity will make him one of the most sought-after producers in the industry when the time comes for the group to part ways. I’m just excited for when, not if, the day comes when Pharrell drops him an invitation to collab on a song. It will surely be a special day for Romil and the day it drops will be a groovy-ass day for the rest of the world.
Romil’s Social Media Highlights
— romil (@romilhemnani) February 28, 2018
new york i heard y’all have been lined up since like 5am omg what is wrong with y’all it is too cold b I don’t even like us that much
— romil (@romilhemnani) February 3, 2018
— romil (@romilhemnani) January 12, 2018
my mom sent me this photo i got emotional pic.twitter.com/ijEIrNq54S
— romil (@romilhemnani) December 25, 2017
boy band. repeat after me. boy band. not a collective. boy band.
— romil (@romilhemnani) December 15, 2017
— romil (@romilhemnani) December 10, 2017
merlyn came home this morning and said he had a honey butter and then told me that it was better than whataburger i cant believe it
— romil (@romilhemnani) October 21, 2017
my iphone broke again this is like the 7th time this year help me steve i miss u
— romil (@romilhemnani) October 1, 2017
this how brockhampton gets haircuts pic.twitter.com/bulzRwuahU
— romil (@romilhemnani) September 20, 2017