Written By: Ethan Griggs
My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com
Los Angeles hip-hop duo THEY. aren’t the first of their kind to reminisce about the golden days – and I’m not talking about those of hip-hop. Good old fashioned rock and roll has always been an influence in rap and hip-hop (think Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys) and there’s also been some talk about some “Black Beatles” in the past year, methinks. Even so, THEY.’s striking blend of Frank Ocean-esque R&B, Nirvana-esque guitar arpeggios, and trap beats reminiscent of Drake and the A$AP Mob is like nothing hip-hop has ever heard before. Among the top influences of Dante Jones and Drew Love are Taking Back Sunday and Kurt Cobain himself.
With the release of their debut full-length, Nü Religion: HYENA, THEY. deliver a cohesive album that isn’t too far away from what an everyday hip-hopper desires, but it also caters towards the taste of younger generations and the issues that many communities face in the modern day. Dante and Drew’s reminiscence on fame and fortune comes up often on the record, but it remains more thoughtful and complex than some of their contemporaries. Tracks like “Motley Crew”, with its dark guitar loop, create the image of “riding down Sunset Boulevard with my niggas” in times of success and the druggy adrenaline that comes with it. “Mama, look at where a nigga at/I can see I’m slipping through the cracks/Feeling like a fucking captain, I’m smashing the pedal/I ain’t never looking back”. These guys are ready to be rock stars.
Through all their confidence, though, THEY. don’t forget about their roots as musicians and the struggle of making it in their industry. “City of broken dreams/Singing for a dollar”, a sung lyric from the standout track “Africa” could serve as the thesis of the album. Just like all those old rock bands, THEY. have to cut their teeth in LA and hopefully something good will come of it.
Like stated, the duo don’t stray away from the current issues of today. The soulful track “Silence” would’ve sounded right at home on Channel Orange, and portrays an enviorment where police sirens are heard around the clock and smoking marijuana acts as the refuge. “We’re lightin’/We’re floatin’/It’s all for the silence/We’re livin’/We learn for/We long for the silence”. It’s a plea for the absence of urban calamity and a cry for help, more so than an ode to weed. In any case, the successful piece of art that is New Religion: HYENA has earned THEY. a spot amongst the upcoming elite of the West-Coast hip-hop community. Be sure to catch them on tour this spring.