By Alexander Cole
Every genre has its visionaries—people who sculpt and define their own artistic compositions in order to form a unique mold. Since the growth of the digital world, many of these sounds have dissipated. No matter what kind of mainstream music we listen to, their sounds can all seem eerily familiar.
Death Grips is not mainstream nor do they have the world talking, but they definitely turn heads.Despite decades of music-making designed to create perfect and overproduced songs, Death Grips reverts back to the cavemen days where humans were creating new sounds in the most primitive ways—such as throwing rocks on walls. Although this time, the rock and wall sound is complimented with glitchy keyboards and drums.
The group is comprised of three men. Stefan Burnett, otherwise known as MC Ride, is the band’s rapper, Andy Morin is on production and the drummer is Zach Hill, former Hella and Wavves drummer. Together, they form one of the oddest trios in rap.
Their 2011 mixtape ExMilitary is what gave them their spotlight. The tape made waves in the underground music world and wound up in the hands of some of the most prominent critics in America. Music publications like Pitchfork gave the album a 7.5/10, while music critic and YouTuber Anthony Fantano gave the record an eight.
ExMilitary had this effect because of its ambition and mixture of sounds. The group combined noise, rock, metal, hip-hop and electronic music. Meanwhile, MC Ride’s manic vocal delivery and violent lyrics add an extra layer to the overwhelmingly abrasive nature of the music. Despite their aggressive nature, their songs were also catchy. Songs like “I Want It I Need It” get stuck in your head so easily that it’s hard to comprehend how music so harsh can be so appealing. Not to mention, their low-budget music video for the song “Guillotine” became a viral sensation in the online music scene.
In 2012, Death Grips kept up the pace with their first album titled The Money Store. The album was released through Epic Records, and was regarded as much catchier than ExMilitary. Their musical vibe remained industrial and dark, yet MC Ride wrote hooks that were more accessible to the average music fan. Songs like “I’ve Seen Footage,” “The Fever,” “Hacker” and “Get Got” are some of their best songs. Even if their instrumentals are an absolute barrage of sound that leave you feeling as if walls are closing in on you, their hooks remain incredible—they have you bopping your head and singing along.
Since The Money Store, the trio has released six projects including their latest record, Bottomless Pit. In each album, Death Grips played with their sound and pushed experimentation to new heights. On one album, the group pushed the boundaries of instrumentals by building each song around Björk vocal samples and integrated it with glitchy synths and sporadic drums.
Throughout the years, they have remained true to themselves in respect to their distinctive approach towards sound and their unpredictability from one album to the next. The way they structure songs and evolve with each album keeps the fans on their toes. Death Grips is the champion of sound experimentation; their musicality is their playground.
Bottomless Pit is a prime example. The group has been going in a darker and more abrasive direction for a few years and fans expected a gloomy record. To the delight of fans and music critics, the group came out with their catchiest record since The Money Store while staying true to their ear-crushing, soul-drenching sounds. Their uncommon somber sounds are supposed to make your skin crawl and make you feel uncomfortable. Experimenting with various industrial instrumental techniques that other hip-hop groups don’t use is what has given them the spotlight. As Anthony Fantano said in his review of Bottomless Pit, “Death Grips have mastered the art of abrasive ear candy.”
Check out their website where they showcase all their music videos at www.thirdworlds.net