Monday, 17 December 2012

(Not So) Retrospectives: Death Grips

A name on the lips of many a music blogger, and fans of music in general, is Death Grips, the alternative hip-hop outfit (comprised of Stefan "MC Ride" Burnett, and producers Zach Hill and Andy Morin) that has dealt with a fair amount of controversy in the past few days and months. Following the April release of The Money Store, the groups major label debut, it became clear that they were certainly worth keeping an eye out for, especially considering they had teased at No Love, the follow-up album, which was to be released in the fall. No Love became No Love Deep Web, and the album was cryptically teased further through a series of archive files, that revealed details about the release in Braille, QR code, and Morse, but to name a few. It quickly became one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year, but the saga took a turn for the stranger when record label Epic allegedly pushed the release back to 2013. The group took issue with this, and in one of the most daring stances against a major label ever, No Love Deep Web was self-released by Death Grips on October 1. To top off the controversial manner of its release, the artwork was revealed to be an erect phallus, complete with the album's title Sharpied onto it. No Love Deep Web has had over 30 million legal downloads since its release, and in the past few days, the group have been dropped by Epic, in a move that suprised nobody. So, here's to Death Grips; 2012's most brilliant troublemakers. Oh, and the albums are pretty good as well.

The Money Store

Following Exmilitary, the 2011 mixtape, Death Grips were an exciting prospect, and with The Money Store, they just about fulfilled all of their promises. To describe the album, one could only use the word harsh; from the production to the lyrics, The Money Store is brash, often alienating, but always thrilling. And in a world filled with prima donna popstars and "rappers", the album is an adrenaline rush, and a wildly exciting experience. The production is abrasive and loud, with an eclectic range of influences, from rave to techno, to DnB to electro. Lyrics deal with racial issues, paranoia, and an age of materialism, particularly in closer Hacker, where pop culture references are dropped at will - MC Ride shouts that Gaga can't handle this shit, after claiming he will make your waters break in the Apple store - and it flows as a stream of consciousness, off-the-top-of-the-head piece of writing. The album is an outpouring of rage, and is gleefully unfocused in doing so. Overall then, The Money Store remains one of the calendar year's most essential listens, and is certainly a contender for album of the year. For any fans of Exmilitary worried about the group going pop following their major record deal, The Money Store is a chaotic, angry affirmation that they needn't fret.

No Love Deep Web 

In the aftermath of The Money Store, you could be forgiven for being excited about No Love Deep Web, the second album released by Death Grips in 2012. The downright bizarre, albeit innovative, promotion of No Love Deep Web only heightened the hype surrounding it. Just as it seemingly reached fever pitch, the albums release date was pushed back to 2013; the rest, as was explained in the opening paragraph, is history. So, here we have the single most controversial release of the year, in all its glory. How does it stack up against its predecessor? As it turns out, the group can be even more angry; the album is fairly sample-less, with dark Roland drum machine sounds being the key component of the production, and the production certainly feels a little colder, aggressive even, for it. Lyrics are, true to form, shouty and brimming with anger; suicide seems to be a constant running throughout No Love Deep Web, as MC Ride asks you to "Die with me/ Blow out the lights, take your life/ Ride the falling sky with me". He also comes across as quite fierce, more so than ever, providing quotables such as "I'm the coat hanger in your man's vagina", found on track Deep Web. No Love Deep Web is an undeniably riotous listen, and although it doesn't match the sheer inventiveness of The Money Store, it is intriguing nonetheless, and well worth the free download.

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