By Gary Chapman
Hip Hop has changed a lot since The Sugarhill Gang coined the term “Rap” in their 14-minute song “Rapper’s Delight”. Going from humble origins to gangster rap from groups like Ice-T, N.W.A and Biggie, now hip hop has expanded to chiller acts like current-era Tyler The Creator to hardcore acts like JPEG Mafia. One act that stands out in the industrial era is the experimental act that is Death Grips.
Death Grips is a trio consisting of Stefan “MC Ride” Burnett, Zach Hill, who has been in the math rock band Helia, and the elusive Andy “Flatlander” Morin. The music is very bass-heavy and riddled with crazy drum patterns. Genre-wise, the band is mostly considered experimental hip hop, but can be considered punk, digital hardcore and noise.
As far as lyrics go, MC Ride usually yells or screams his lyrics (except for songs like “Get Got” when he is talking in a subdued tone of voice) and lyrics can range from violent (see “No Love” and “Hacker”) to paranoid (“I’ve Seen Footage”) to personal (“On GP”).
The band was formed on Dec. 21, 2010 and recorded the song “Full Moon (Death Classic)” and then they released their self-titled EP on March 28. In April, they released their free mixtape “Exmilitary” which contains some of my favorite songs from them: “Beware” “Takyon (Death Yon)”, and “Guillotine”. The Bass-heavy sounds of “Guillotine” and “Takyon” boom through the speakers. Charles Manson introduces the album with an excerpt of his “I Make The Money Man” interview.
In 2012, they released their first (and only) record under Epic Records, “The Money Store”, which has the singles “Get Got”, “I’ve Seen Footage”, and “The Fever (Aye Aye)”. The album shows that the band was hitting big. Even though the band was signed to a major record label, they did not really care for it (that is putting it lightly) with them leaking the albums on their website, and not showing up at performances. My favorite songs from “TMS” are“The Fever” and “Hacker”.
With them being let go from the contract with Epic, they leaked their second album “No Love Deep Web”, which the cover depicts the drummer’s [REDACTED]. The album contains the song “No Love” and “Come and Get Me”. “No Love” has violent lyrics with a booming beat.
In 2013-2015, they released “Government Plates” and “The Powers That B”, which GP has the long Bob Dylan-inspired title “You Might Think He Loves You for Your Money but I Know What He Really Loves You for It’s Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat” and “Birds”, which featured Robert Pattinson on the guitar. “The Powers That B” is a double album that features the tracks “I Break Mirrors with My Face in the United States”, “On GP” and “Inanimate Sensation”.
After “The Powers That B”, they released two instrumental EPs, “Interview 2016” and “Fashion Week”. And then they dropped “Bottomless Pit”. BP has “Eh”, the rambling “Hot Head”, “Spikes” and “Giving Bad People Good Ideas”.
After their 20-minute “Steroids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber Megamix)” was dropped in 2017, they released the album “The Year of the Snitch”, which has the adaptation of “Paint It Black”, “Black Paint”, “Streaky”, “Flies” and “Dilemma”, which features Andrew Adamson, who was the director of “Shrek”. Black Paint has a mean guitar riff and themes of grief.
They have released one more thing in 2019, for the 30 anniversary of Warp Records. During a radio broadcast of NTS Radio, they released a 29 minute track called “Gmail and The Restraining Order”. The track was a soundscape that they used before shows during the “Powers That B” era.
That is a brief synopsis of the history of the experimental hip-hop band Death Grips. Hopefully I convinced you that you should take a listen to the band. The band is an eclectic experience, and that is all I have to say about it.