There’s a lot going on in They Hate Change’s music.
The Tampa Bay-based experimental hip-hop duo has folded in myriad sounds from Florida music movements, from Miami bass to Tampa jook and krank. But even locals who aren’t familiar with these sonic references can find visuals and lyrics nodding to the places they know well.
Just how many times have André “Dre” Gainey and Vonne Parks sprinkled Tampa Bay through They Hate Change’s discography?
“Finally, New,” the group’s debut LP on Jagjaguwar, is a great place to start looking.
Take, for instance, the song “X-Ray Spex,” where Parks raps the line: “Gulf Coast, Cuban toast, guava cheese, palm leaves.”
In the music video, the pair starts a tour-de-Pinellas in Full Court Classics, shopping for vintage T-shirts inside the Central Avenue shop in St. Petersburg. The video shows each picking up a pair of glasses with special powers that help them see things for what they really are.
The band wears the specs over to the Old Northeast neighborhood, passing by someone reading a Creative Loafing outside of Old Northeast Pizza. They stop to pick out a book from the little free library outside Black Crow Coffee Co. Later, they make their way over to Planet Retro, rapping in front of stacks of records.
Like many wild journeys through St. Petersburg, the night ends at The Bends, under strips of neon lights and the glowing crystal chandelier that hangs over the dance floor.
It’s not the only music video to nod to their home county.
“1000 Horses (ft. SARGE)” shows Parks spitting bars in front of Interstate 275. In between shots of Gainey sitting in a tree, there are snippets of the Crescent Lake water tower and pulsing lights of the Tampa Theatre marquee. Tampa natives may recognize SARGE from the scene. He’s the one who taught Parks how to rap over a decade ago.
The music video for “From the Floor” takes place outside of Marko’s Meat & Deli in Pinellas Park as a party rages in the parking lot around a classic Chevy. The lyrics are an “ode to Florida car culture,” Parks told Consequence of Sound. “More specifically Donks, which were huge in my neighborhood growing up. A lot of intricate paint jobs with cartoon characters and snack mascots (Chester Cheetah, Cap’n Crunch, etc.), and of course, big rims. In our efforts to export Florida styles and flavors to the world, we’ve thought a lot about the signifiers that people identify with when they think of certain regions; one big aspect is transportation.”
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The video for “Blatant Localism” shows the pair flitting around town to local businesses, snapping Polaroids from Lorene’s Fish and Crab House and Munch’s Restaurant in St. Petersburg to the final location of the now-shuttered Biff Burger chain and nearby Buffy’s Bar-B-Que. There are scenes in the parking lot of MD Oriental Market, the exterior of Fray’s Donut House, a sign advertising hot coffee and doughnuts outside Tampa’s Supernatural Food and Wine and the red-and-white stripes marking Clearwater’s Dairy Kurl (before they changed the sign, Gainey noted).
It’s not just the newer songs that are chock-full of local references. Speaking of Dairy Kurl, the ice cream shop also got the album cover treatment for the group’s “Clearwater” EP. There’s a mention in the song, “Ozone.” The EP also gives a shout-out to Tampa International Airport.
The music video for “Lakeside,” off the “Maneuvers” EP, is filmed in a single shot in front of Lake Tarpon, not far from East Lake High School. Gainey and Parks were Eagles (graduating in 2013 and 2012, respectively).
Pho Quyen, the Pinellas Park Vietnamese restaurant nestled in a strip mall at 4505 Park Blvd., is the background of the music video for “Stunt Cams.” It’s also the cover of their EP “666 Central Ave.” The name for that comes from the former address of Daddy Kool Records. (Remember when it was on the 600 block?) This is where the pair dug through crates before catching concerts along Central. The love is mutual; when Change released “Finally, New” in 2022, Daddy Kool sold an exclusive vinyl pressing, a vibrant “Florida orange.”