11 Nov 2016

Death Grips: The Weird and Wonderful

When we look back on some of our favourite bands, we don't just think about the music: You don't look back on Queen without gushing over Freddie Mercury's flamboyancy; you don’t look back on the Beatles without associating them with the revolution and change of the swinging 60s; you don't look back on Nirvana without considering Kurt Cobain as a spokesperson for a whole generation of wannabe individuals. All these bands were able to capture the zeitgeist of there defining generation.

And thats exactly what Death Grips are doing. They continually do this, as they are quite arguably the first huge modern day band to really embrace the culture of the internet. If the name is new to you, you are probably going to YouTube "death grips”. You are then probably going to click on the first suggested video - titled Guillotine (It goes Yah). And you are then probably going to spend the next 3 minutes and 47 seconds in total dismay, wondering who the fuck this bearded hobo is and why has this video of him screaming got over 4 million hits? Well, from this point, one thing will lead to another and you will find yourself listening to Music from Saharan Cellphones Vol.1 trying to pinpoint the samples used for your new favourite album, The Money Store (the album with the healthy amount of bondage on the front).

Death Grips are a band stemming from Sacramento, consisting of three members: MC Ride, Flatlander and Zach Hill. Now, I want to say that they’re experimental hip hop but to limit the group to just one genre would just be an injustice. In just 5 years the group has released 11 projects consisting of EPs, an instrumental album and a two disc double album. The first disc of the double album has its instrumentation being performed entirely on a Roland V-Drum kit, that features chopped vocal samples of Icelandic singer-songwriter Bj√∂rk on every track… And yes this is just as fantastic as it sounds.

Over their 5 years, the band has amassed a variety of reactions and opinions. Some people think that the band is deranged, weird, repulsive and that they generally produce terrible music.At the other end of the spectrum, Death grips have inspired obsessive fanaticism over they're art. Its the bizarre business moves, the disturbing lyrics, the raw aggression conveyed and even the album covers that create such a mass divide. You may be wondering how an album cover can provoke such controversy, well, in 2012 when No Love Deep Web was leaked by Death Grips themselves, the album cover featured Zach Hills erect penis with the album title written across it.

Image result for death grips press shotFor all the fanatics that comes with Death Grips, they make some pretty terrific music. All of the albums vary in styles but they continuously project the same haunting claustrophobia. MC ride raps with a brash cadence over erratic production, with some surprisingly catchy hooks and melodies. It's anything but beautiful. However what Death grips lack in serenity, they more than make up for in sheer brutality, and its through their lyrics and instrumentation that they convey their rage as something human. Never has there been a band who's music feeds so well in with the character of the group. At times it’s overwhelming, but you have to take your time with it. Read the lyrics, nod your head to the beats and scream with MC Ride as you release everything bottled up inside.

I take it back, in a sinister way, it is kind of beautiful.

I get it, I won’t reject the fact that you may think this band is awful and that they make terrible music. However I reject the notion that this band is not at least fascinating. The members of the group may be assholes who don’t show up to their own shows; but holy shit! Are they not interesting assholes who just don't give a fuck about what anybody thinks. It’s not just the music that they produce, its theirwhole aura that is so attractive to me. Its up to you whether or not you want to be invested to the point that you just listen to the band's singles, or if you want to be one many of the ravenous fans who spend their free time analysing why they only release projects on the date of a blood moon (I recommend the latter). Either way, it is undeniable that Death grips are making waves on the internet, and yes they may be amorphous waves, but Death Grips epitomise the idea of a “band”. They have a one-of-a-kind identity which can only be compared to some of the most spectacular bands of the last century and similarly to those bands, they exemplify the climate of the generation they occupy.

(Words: Owen Yule)