Death Grips were formed in 2010 in Sacramento in California by Zach Hill on drums, Stefan “MC Ride” Burnett and Andy “Flatlander” Morin on synths and samples.
Zach Hill’s previous incarnation, the utterly awesome Hella have been quietly releasing amazing experimental Free Form Rock for over a decade previously. A good and relatively accessible toe dipper would be their last album ‘Tripper’ from early 2011.
Death Grips quickly pushed the boundaries of Hip Hop, fusing heavy dubbed distortion with erratic Rock beats on ‘Full Moon (Death Classic)’, the most exciting debut since ‘Hard To Explain’ by The Strokes.
This was quickly followed up by a self titled EP which went on to form the classic free mixtape ‘Ex Military’ released summer 2011, the debut video quickly setting the tone.
Tracks like ‘Takyon’, it’s warped funky hip hop scrunch and ‘I Want it, I Need it (Death Heated)’ with its daring ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ Pink Floyd sample helped made ‘Ex Military’ an unapologetically awkward album to listen to.
MC Ride’s aggressive rap style and Flatlander’s Lo Fi gnarled bass loops, shambolically held together with Hill’s metal leanings on drums made for the most brilliantly uncomfortable listen since ‘The Holy Bible’ by The Manic Street Preachers.
They were also pushing the visual arts with this self directed video for lead single ‘Guillotine’.
With the emerging internet success of ‘Ex Military’, Death Grips were signed by Epic Records which being the label of Michael Jackson, I had justifiable concerns.
They promised fans two albums in 2012 and went on to record their debut album in just under eight weeks so I was bloody worried.
‘The Money Store’, in my opinion, is in the top ten debut albums of all time. And think about the competition. It’s still a no brainer.
The sheer ferociousness of the album is phenomenal and not just it’s musical delivery. Lyrically it’s stumbles between dark isolation and aggressive ridiculousness in a comma. ‘Lost Boys’ is stunning in it’s over bass-ed restriction and loose echoed verse and ‘ The Cage’ which is a joyous assault on your delicate malleus.
To support the release, the band scheduled a major thirty gig tour, which they cancelled at the last minute to disappear into the studio, much to public dismay.
Four months later they released ’No Love Deep Web’ via social media without consent from Epic, citing the fact the label wouldn’t release the album until 2013 as the issue. The correspondence between the label and group can be found here. http://pitchfork.com/news/48424-death-grips-post-no-love-deep-web-infringement-letters-from-epic-records-on-facebook/. Epic dropped Death Grips on 1st November 2012 due to the public sharing of the letters and the release itself.
What an album. Starting with ‘Come And Get Me’ which comes out trying to chew your face off and tracks like ‘World Of Dogs’ are consistently astonishing in their brutality. Beautiful in the same vein ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ or ‘Heavy Machine Music’ by Lou Reed makes your jaw drop.
They’ve since set up their own label and are due to release their next album in 2014.
Failure to attend an event organised by Lollapalooza resulted in their slot being cancelled and their equipment being trashed by angry fans. Further gigs were cancelled.
‘At one point in my life I was more inspired by people. But as I’ve grown more, I don’t look to that for inspiration anymore. I look inside to myself and what goes on in there. Internal struggle, shit like that. I’m not really into surface reality much.’ -MC Ride 2012.
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