A thriving movement: a ‘Nü Religion’ by THEY.
🇪🇸 El siguiente artículo fue escrito originalmente en inglés por nuestro corresponsal en Nueva Jersey Denzel Jones. Puedes leer la versión en español aquí. Traducción y adaptación por Natalia Warrior y Álvaro Reneses.
🇺🇸 The following article was originally written in English by our New Jersey correspondent Denzel Jones. The Spanish version can be found here. Translation and adaptation by Natalia Warrior and Álvaro Reneses.
Personally speaking, I believe in a higher power. I have beliefs like everyone else, but on March 23, without realizing, I think I converted to the Wolfpack. At New York City’s very own SOB’s, I witnessed the underground R&B/Rock duo THEY. live in concert, headlining their very first solo tour. Previously, they were an opening act on Bryson Tiller‘s Trapsoul tour.
The collective is composed of Dantè Jones and Drew Love, with Dantè being the producer (and occasionally providing vocals), and Drew being the lead singer, but because of their underground status I’ll give a brief rundown on who they are and how they came to be… THEY.
Individually, the two are both very accomplished. Drew only started putting out songs a few years ago, but soon after his releases he relocated to Los Angeles where he earned opportunities to write for the likes of Chris Brown and Jeremih, just to name a few. Dantè on the other hand initially wanted to be a rapper, but beat making was just too interesting. He started producing at 19 with just a keyboard but as he got more into it he put down the mic. At first his production sound gravitated towards Jeezy and Rick Ross, but he found his true strength in pop beats. A year and half later he found himself making sounds for Will. I. Am, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Brown, etc… And he even won a Grammy. (But he’s so modest he wouldn’t even tell you.)
Time passes on and Dante’s manager encouraged him to work with an up-and-coming Drew Love. The two met up for a studio session and at some point Dantè offered to show Drew some hidden gems he had been working on. He was reluctant at first but he played them, and the next day Drew called Dantè up. The rest is history.
So the show was opened up by an R&B artist by the name of Hannibal. He’s really underground himself so no one knew who he was. By the end of his set he caught a few ears. He needs some polishing but I could actually see him making a wave. He actually won a contest that got him a shot at opening, and since it was only valid for the New York show I understand why he was so nervous. It was probably his first show.
Next on the mic was Ishdarr, an established rapper out of Wisconsin. His set was about 8-10 songs (but it felt like 20), and he felt at home the entire time. His stage presence was amazing, his lyrics were hitting, and his energy had the crowd amped, even for the ones that didn’t know who he was. He got my attention only after his 2nd song.
After the «12th» song I became restless. I was ready to see the artists I payed my hard earned money for, but let me say, it was worth the wait. THEY. entered after 3 more songs and opened with their debut album’s first track. It’s pure instrumental. I’ll admit I wasn’t hooked when I first heard it, but it sounded unbelivable live. Not just because of the acoustics, but because of the theatrics you could tell that it wasn’t their first show. They started the stage wearing black cloaks with their logo behind them, set in a vintage camera effect. The next track though is what really had us on our feet.
They performed ‘Deep End’, their first of four «classics» for their day one fanbase. The synths on speakers hit hard and I almost lost my voice singing along. They performed songs from their debut album, including ‘Rather Die’ -also known as my new favorite song by them. Sadly, it didn’t make the album. Likely because the Nirvana sample couldn’t get cleared. It is available online, so luckily you can still find it on SoundCloud.
As you listen to the 14 track project you’ll notice plenty of rock samples. But it’s not just the metal influences. They truly have a different brand. Something which they like to call «grunge’n’b». What makes them different goes beyond the Mötley Crüe and Nirvana samples. It’s because they’re unconventional. They use sirens and alarms as background noise on tracks, they create airy vibes and maintain soul alonside hard precussions, and they focus on more than just love or sex (those songs are amazing, though). They’re about riding on sunset boulevard with your ni*#as, enjoying comfortable silences, and doing what you do even when the world tells you that you can’t do it.
This can’t be for nothing
We live for something
Don’t no where we’re going
At least til’ the morning
The legendary SOB’s isn’t just known for flourishing talent, it’s also known for giving artists the chance to get up close and personal with their fans on an intimate level. THEY. did. At the end they brought fans on stage to get soaked and dance along to ‘U-Rite’.
I can openly and proudly say that I now practice the Nü Religion.