In 1984 RUN DMC's Joseph "Run" Simmons was asked by the host of Soul Train what he sees as "the future of rap music." His response, which comes without a moment's pause, is both cryptic and prescient, "See people wanna know what rap music is. The only thing rap music is - there is no music to rap. We just rap over whatever we want. The only thing rap about rap music is the rap. We can rap over rock. We can rap over jazz." The host - a bit baffled but smooooth - attempts to summarize Run's remarks: "So the answer to the question is: The rap itself will dictate the future of rap music."
In the near 30 years since that Soul Train appearance, hip-hop has become, perhaps, one of the last true avant-garde art forms, one that is constantly evolving. Across the globe - from â€˜Life of Pablo''s post-release editing process to Atlanta's wild, serpentine trap scene to South London's inspired and jarring drill and grime - it is reborn endlessly and boundlessly into new forms. Now, get ready to hear from the next evolution of rap: Tampa wildasses, They Hate Change.
It makes complete sense that when asked about their elastic, exuberant and rather thrilling hip-hop, They Hate Change immediately points to that 1984 Soul Train interview. You see, Dre (27, he/him) and Vonne (27, they/them) are exactly what Run was suggesting in his answer. Rap will decide what rap is, not the beat beneath it. Dre and Vonne will not be defined. They're anglophiles who reference drum-n-bass and Chicago footwork - and then, spin it into clever-as-hell Florida party rap. They geek out on Drakes' fashion spreads and show up in vintage Nirvana tees on the cover of their EPs. They'll pull a Document magazine off the shelf in one moment and an autographed chillwave 12" from 2010 the very next. They're as likely to enthuse over a new West Coast emo band as they are a good breakbeat. And when Dre and Vonne run these myriad influences through the They Hate Change supercomputer, the output stands shoulder to shoulder with any of today's exciting, most forward-thinking rap.
Building upon their brilliant 2020 GODMODE EP 666 Central Ave. comes "Faux Leather '' their first single released on Jagjaguwar and a scathing lambasting of the modern music industry (guilty, sorry!), luxury brands and patience in one's ascent. In the great tradition of rap, they're punching up like Little Mac and taking on some true giants. Over a melting digital production that sounds like robotrippin' AI, the whole affair is courageous in its irreverence. It's joyous but with serious teeth. It's kinetic and confident. Upon hearing 666 Central Ave. THC became a fast obsession at JAG HQ (or whatever Zoom/Slack hybrid version of an HQ we operated under in 2020) and we were soon falling for Dre and Vonne themselves. They're truly capital h Heads and their exuberance was fully contagious.
Dre and Vonne first met as 14 years olds at the apartment complex in which they both happened to reside. Dre had just moved to Tampa from New York. "I ran up on him to sell bad weed," Vonne said. Soon, they were shooting hoops in the same friend groups and hitting local jook functions. But unlike the rest of their friends, Dre and Vonne were going a layer deeper. "If it was music, we were going down to the liner notes. If it was sneakers, we knew it down to the design references." Inspired by regional krank and jook scenes, and their elders like Tampa Tony and Tom G, Dre and Vonne started making their own music. Their first gigs as MCs - when they were around 21 - were on porches and in skate shops. "Nobody locally was doing Future into DJ Rashad; Footwork into Ghettohouse," they said, recalling those early days. Across releases on the great Deathbomb Arc and GODMODE, their confidence, irreverence and full creative command have only grown in power. Now, we enter the next era of They Hate Change.