Monday, 9 June 2014

Review: Death Grips

Death Grips niggas on the moon (Harvest/Third Worlds, 2014)

Death Grips have never taken a conventional approach in releasing their albums, with 2012's NO LOVE DEEP WEB being leaked by the group against the will of their ex-record label, Epic, and 2013's Government Plates dropping out of the blue to the delight of hype-beasts and experimental hip-hop junkies everywhere. niggas on the moon was no exception to this rule, with their latest release going viral via their Facebook page, with little more than the information that the Icelandic avant-garde veteran, Björk, features on all 8 tracks, alongside the kind words "have a sad cum bb". The post was then signed off from "us", which incidentally has caused much dispute over the album's controversial title considering the ethnic backgrounds of both the drummer and producer in the band.

Rory Ferreira A.K.A Milo, nerd-rap's "loquacious public speaker", had an awful lot to say about say about the choice of the title niggas on the moon almost immediately after the album's release early in the morning of the 9th of June, stating that "two white dudes [Zach Hill and Andy Morin] just put out a record called niggas on the moon and i hate them for it". A bold comment with logical reasoning, no doubt, but Twitter's general lack of acknowledgement towards to the album title really epitomises the current state of hip-hop lyricism whereby the 'n word' has become almost meaningless. The offence that the word once carried has effectively been forgotten and thus it is used in the bad taste that Ferreira spoke of more often nowadays, so it will be interesting to see the band's reaction to the criticism at a future date.

The album's content, however, is indisputable, and although it is clear that the band has taken yet another extensive change in direction with their latest release being driven by MC Ride's fervent raps as opposed to the synthesisers and percussion loops that very much distinguished Government Plates, the band's most powerful attributes have been grinded together and in doing so, Death Grips have produced their most refined work as of yet, and what can only be described as a contemporary masterpiece. niggas on the moon opens with a thunderous track, "Up My Sleeves", that really sets the scene for the album as it is characterised by the violent darkness of Ride's lyrics; 'I was conceived by my disease' being a particularly stand out line with it feeling like an extension of NO LOVE DEEP WEB's introductory track "Come Up and Get Me" due to the harshness and brutality of Ride's raspy flow.

One thing that can be said for listening to the album for the first time is that it is certainly difficult to follow, with aggressive lyrics being lost in the mix of noisy drum patterns and Björk samples on "Have A Sad Cum" and footwork-like production on "Voila" adding a new dimension to the niggas on the moon experience. It is an album that unforgivingly forces itself upon you and leaks frenzied energy into your eardrums, but as far as experimental music goes, the first half of this album is an absolute game-changer.

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