They Hate Change delight on an EP with a collaborative soul that doesn’t lose any of the expected edgy or swag of this luminary hip-hop duo.

Release date: January 26, 2024 | Jagjaguwar | Instagram | Bandcamp

Two years ago saw me absolutely fascinated by They Hate Change, a truly progressive hip-hop duo doing great things with the genre’s past, present, and future. Seriously, it may not be my best writing, but check out my review of Finally, New if you want to see why I was hoping, praying, crying, screaming for a new project from them this year. Not only did I get it, but it dropped in late January? Good start to 2024.

To immediately temper expectations, Wish You Were Here… is just an EP, but ‘just an EP’ from one of the most engaging and entertaining acts I could name right now is still a welcomed treat and replete with plenty of moments to talk about at length, hence this review. This EP is pretty special as it marks the first time They Hate Change have used all outside production. At first this was a bit… concerning – one of the duo’s strengths is absolutely the production they do. I didn’t wanna lose the percussive bounce of “Breathing” or the humming, EDM-esque framework of “X-Ray Spex”.

All I had to do was sit back and trust the process though – They Hate Change picked awesome people to collaborate with, producers that really knew what kind of sound they excel over, like 96Back, Vritra, DJ Orange Julius, and Charlie. Each of this EP’s four songs (there’s five tracks, but I’ll get to that in a bit) feel like They Hate Change. “Wallabees & Weejuns” is a banger of a track, the title referencing two brands of footwear which is fitting because this song gets you moving, bro. To spoil it, it’s two songs in one with a righteous beat switch in the middle where it goes from a trunk thumper with skittering hi-hats and deep bass to a dance anthem with r&b touches you’d be likely to hear in a club. André and Vonne stunt hard lyrically with little nods to Dr. Dre and Big Tymers alike, making sure their flows match up to each beat respectively. That’s the kind of far-reaching referencing that makes They Hate Change so fucking cool, and it goes way beyond simple name drops and bars.

“stunt (when I see u)” is another hard-bodied track with light sampling and dense drums that warble and warp around the rapped vocals. It’s a little darker and more anxious than their usual fare, bringing to mind some Yeezus production like what was on “On Sight” just with 100% less regret and moral dilemma involved. I love Vonne’s more aggressive approach here, taking up the lion’s share of rapping time while also describing They Hate Change better than I could: ‘This that Gulf Coast Soul, Post-Punk Crunk Music/Boy Better Know, like my name Frisco‘. “Biscuits” is a bit of a chiller, minimalistic jam seated in the middle of the EP with a crisp bassline and not a whole not else besides vocals until the midsection ramps the drum textures that flirt with drum & bass music and more prominent guitar lines (that may be sampled?). And speaking of grime/English rap from earlier, South London rapper Wu-Lu shows up for one of Wish You Were Here…‘s two vocal features that give the track a downtrodden feel before it takes off with that extended production.

“So Excited” is my favorite next to “Wallabees & Weejuns” with high energy and pulling elements from everywhere from trap rap to EDM. Cherele, a rapper/singer from Fort Myers, FL, fucking skates on this track with nice backing vocals and a neat mini-verse with all three vocalists shouting out Florida itself and the lavish lifestyle representative of its more luxurious areas. Another dancy banger. The only weak track is the intro, “Thank You For Reaching Out”, which is just 4:32 of voice messages to the duo. I get it, intros can be key to setting the scene and/or mood, but clocking in at around 25% of the EP and is the longest track on it, it feels like a bit much. I can’t hate on it, but I’ll admit I skip it almost every time it loops now.

Aside from that admittedly very minor dent, Wish You Were Here… just sees the They Hate Change legacy grow evermore. Even using other producers besides themselves, always a risky move when you’re so used to producing in-house, their charisma comes through without a single hitch. Lyrically strong with fun touches, bringing on cool features and put fans like me onto (seriously, thanks for putting me onto Cherele because damn), in spite of my short time moving with this Florida duo, this just feels like another great step as they continue to stunt on any-fucking-one they feel like, me included! Stunt on me, y’all. I love this shit. Can’t wait for more.

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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