MC Ride (under no drug influence whatsoever): Done with the music, now time to make the album cover… ZACH WHIP YOUR DICK OUT!
Sacramento experimental group Death Grips have shoved enough bloody, bruised, burnt and emotionally polarizing music into the mouths of eager fans — and eagerly afraid onlookers — so the release of their sophomore album, NO LOVE DEEP WEB, will not sway many listeners.
It has, though, whipped up a ton of talk about not only its flabbergasting cover (ITS A PENIS OMG WHY) but also the nonchalant and amusingly cavalier way in which they released it: by flipping off their label and uploading it to every sleazy file-sharing site in existence.
That’s the greatest praise that I can muster for the group; after all, it wouldn’t make sense for them to whimper under the arbitrary kiss of death that is “release date hell.” But as far as the actual music is concerned, my opinion mimicks that of the F&L2, only in reverse: I totally dig the production, in disappointment with the lyrics/MC Ride’s gut-punching vocal performance.
The brand of hip hop Death Grips creates can be summarized as post-anthropomorphic music, the type that would perfectly suit a gathering of mentally and physically disfigured strain of humans who exist hundreds of years after global nuclear war. Their sound, oblique, unforgiving, and immediately arresting, gets major props for how off-the-deep-end it seems. NO LOVE DEEP WEB in particular features what may be the group’s take on electronica, as producer Flatlander and energetic drummer Zach Hill infuse 80s synth and Afrika Bambaataa-style drumbeats with their bone-crunching aggression.
It culminates in a sound truly unique and fun to listen to only for how autochthonous and unrefined the production seems. The first track “Come Up And Get Me” has an epileptic synth line just convulsing over and over while MC Ride yells in his trademark mushmouth flow, “No Love” has huge, ominous kick drums fill the air underneath a dazzle of cymbals and a sea of queasy, vomit-colored synth and “World Of Dogs” features Hill’s most impressive and punishing drumming and Ride’s death knell of a hook slicing through the cacophony like a rusty butter knife.
“Black Dice,” arguably the most pleasing production they’ve ever concocted, features a icy permafrost underpinned by West-Coast rhythm, that falls away for droplets of bass and scratchy chopped-up synth providing a backdrop for Ride’s atonal ramblings. It also stands as testament for how inclusive the group is when forming sounds, not afraid to incorporate pleasing sounds into their gruesome smoothie of noise.
DEEP WEB, based on its production, benefits heavily from a mind already aware of the group’s parasitic, face-melting tendencies. However, the lyrics probably require a greater wealth of black metal, hardcore punk and other fringe genre awareness to fully “fuck” with. MC Ride’s M. O., which is to get the puerile and misanthropic lyrics out in an annoying, primal scream or mumble that shifts rhythmically by the second is the disease-ridden marrow of the group that draws much disdain from a strictly hip hop standpoint, and the main reason for my initial hatred of the group.
I feel that Hip Hop, in its basic form, derives it lineage from the African griots of old, who would memorize and retell stories and fables precious to society backed by earthy hand percussion. Yeah, its a cheesy and romantic way to see things, but that’s my P.O.V. Now, what Death Grips did — much in line with thrash metal — was to take the basics and warp, bend, crack, smash, bruise, beat, scourge, defecate on, douse in gasoline and set it on fire until something existed that would suit the artist’s need.
I get that sentiment completely, but I still find the undecipherable vocals deceiving, especially since a trip to rapgenius feels like lifting a log and unveiling the gross insect life underneath. I do enjoy the hook on “World of Dogs” and “Stockton” though, because they mesh well with the production: “I’M BOUNCING (WOOP, WOOP)!”
Yet as I said, it doesn’t matter how much I try to analyze and theorize Death Grips: most of the people reading this have made their minds up. I can at least say that there’s an entire album of theirs which I can enjoy at least in some respect (I only dug “Lord Of The Game” from Exmilitary, “I’ve Seen Footage” and “System Blower” from The Money Store), but then again, that album cover makes it reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally hard to fully embrace. Ah, such is the aggressively anti-everything and genre-rupturing case that is Death Grips.