The Break Presents: They.
When They., a duo consisting of singer Drew and producer Dante, dropped their debut EP Nu Religion last October, the three-track project spread across the web like wildfire. The project racked up millions of plays, accumulating over 93 million streams on Spotify and SoundCloud combined.
The mysterious group combines a unique, atmospheric sound with poignant lyrics about relationships, sex and a myriad of other topics. Their success lead them to touring nationally this year as a opener for Bryson Tiller, another young singing phenom. They. also collaborated with the electronic greats ZHU and Skrillex, and received praise from Timbaland. The tandem are making a big name for themselves in just a short period of time. The crazy thing about them is that they joined forces only a few months before Nu Religion dropped.
"We met about a year and a half ago in L.A.," Dante told XXL while they were in New York City. "I had a studio I was working out of it. One of my best friends brought Drew by and was like, 'This is my guy I’ve been working with, check him out, you guys should work on some stuff.' Back then, I was just doing stuff like trying to get placements, trying to get on people’s albums. I always had some ideas off to the side, little ideas that I was doing. Finally I got the courage to really show it off and show it to him. He was like, 'This is crazy, let me do my thing with it.' About three to four songs in, he hits me one day like, 'We should just make this a group and make a run at it.'"
Drew and Dante, who are signed to Mind of a Genius Records and got their name from a file name the latter used, recently dropped “Say When,” a new single off their upcoming debut full-length LP, Hyena. With momentum on their side, They. is looking to change the way you listen to music. Get to know the pair in XXL's The Break.
Age: Drew, 23; Dante, 27
Hometown: Washington D.C. and Denver, respectively
I grew up listening to: Dante: "I grew up listening to everything, man. I was one of those kids who sat and watched MTV all day, watch the entire countdown, watch everything. I was really into everything like obviously hip-hop to alternative; I was a huge Nirvana fan and everything they stood for. Then later on I was into emo music and stuff in New York like Diplomats."
Drew: "For me, it was more of a mix to what my parents was listening to like Motown, which was my mom and Parliament and Funkadelic, which is my dad. My first CD I ever bought was Hanson Middle of Nowhere. And I like R&B too like B2K, Omarion, Boyz II Men. It was all over the place."
Dante: "I always was into, you know when you get a CD you read the credits. I always wondered who was behind the stuff. I remember I got Blueprint and I kept seeing the same name, they kept spelling [Kanye West’s] name wrong, like Kane West [laughs]. I remember doing more research like, oh there’s other people making these beats. I say probably by the beginning of high school where I was trying to mess around [with music]. But I didn’t really start to after high school where I was like, 'Yo I want to be a producer.' The rest is history."
Drew: "For me, I used to always sing around the house and sing around the shower. One thing I knew as a kid is anything my parents say I shouldn’t do or not to do it, I know I probably should do it. I used to not listen to my parents, I would sing around the house and they would always tell me to shut up. I knew that’s what I wanted to sing but I didn’t know to what capacity. In high school, I started to mess around on the microphone and rapped in my basement with friends. I didn’t really take it seriously until one day I put a song online and got invited out to L.A. I knew I wanted to after that."
Most people don’t know: Drew: "One thing people don’t know about us is that we're really in tune with music. We really have a big mission. We really want to change the way people listen to music. We really want to change this ongoing trend of not really saying anything in your lyrics and not really portraying any type of message. I think we can do it."
Dante: "We’re obviously very early in this so if anyone has any preconceived notions with what They. are or who They. is, when the next project comes out it's going to break down a lot of those barriers."
My style’s been compared to: Drew: "It’s indescribable and we did that on purpose."
Dante: "I think the best way to describe it is Dante and Drew. If you try and put it in a genre you’re not going to be able to. It’s just us channeling what we believe in and what we like and staying true to that."
My standout records or moments to date have been: Drew: "It's kind of crazy, in this position. It's kind of hard to figure out when did that happen. The one that we got the most love was 'Back it Up.' Bryson Tiller showed a lot of love on the song, OVO showed a lot of love on the song. I would probably say that one. But the one that’s closets to me is probably 'Motley Crue.' We said a lot in that song."
I’m gonna be the next: Dante: "If I could say there’s one artist trajectory-wise, obviously they had a short run but, Nirvana, because when they came out there was bubbling up of the sound but it wasn’t necessarily there yet. It was like this generational shift of like this what everybody listens to. And then this new band out of nowhere comes and knocks Michael Jackson off the charts and replaces him at No. 1. It’s kind of represented the new generation and the youth. So that’s what I think, ideally, that’s whom I want to emulate impact-wise."
Drew: "I would say OutKast because they were definitely way different with anything that was coming out during that time. I think that it was way different but people still gravitated to it. It portrayed a good message, it was well written and produced, it was all around good music."
Standout: "Say When"
"Working For It"
See 50 Fire Hip-Hop Albums You Need to Listen to This Summer