Describing the sound that the Sacramento trio Death Grips puts out is an exercise in complete futility. Are they rap? Not really, by the traditional definition. Are they electronica? Maybe, but most electro fans would have a hard time finding anything familiar about their sound. Are they some of the rawest, most hard-hitting musicians putting stuff out right now? Now we’re talking…
“The Money Store”, the first official release from Death Grips, after their 2011 mixtape “Exmilitary”, is an exhilirating assault of noise, thundering and slithering drum beats, and furious rapping that resembles aggro spoken word poetry much more than anything you’d hear coming out of Kanye’s mouth. Death Grips combine the inherit trippiness of other alt-rap acts like Shabazz Palaces and OFWGKTA with the furious sound collages of Sleigh Bells and Grimes.
Over thirteen tracks, Death Grips presents a soundtrack for the last party on earth, cramming as much chaos and fury into forty minutes as humanly possible. That fury and chaos is palpable in vocalist Stefan Burnett’s lyrics that blow past on the first listen, sounding like nothing more than angry gibberish, but as you play it more, the underlying paranoia, rage, and apocalptic imagery begins to emerge, pairing with the music perfectly.
The stand out tracks on the album are the lead track “Get Got”, which features some of the most clearly defined rapping from Burnett on the album, along with a dirty, chopped guitar sample that flies past faster than any human being could ever play, and the party banger “I’ve Seen Footage” sounds a little bit like Tone Loc filtered through the mind of HP Lovecraft (trust me, when you hear it, you’ll understand) with madness ruling the track while simultanously producing something that can actually be danced to, if you’d be so inclined.
After taking the ride that is “The Money Store”, you might get the impression that Burnett is actually, honestly insane…and, the thing is, I don’t really know if that impression is entirely false. It’s clear Burnett sees things in a way nobody else really does, and delivers his harrowing visions in a way that nobody else could. “The Money Store” is a trip through the wasteland through the eyes of a madman, and Death Grips’ commitment to keep this chaos and madness going through the entire album is something spectacular
I feel like a lot of people will probably toss Death Grips off as just another horrorcore act, along with gimicky garbage like Salem or (even worse) Insane Clown Posse. With their gritty imagery, violent lyrics, and forboding, gruff sound, it would be easy to dismiss them as shock artists, and that’s unfortuante, because there’s so much more going on here than either of those groups could ever imagine making.
Death Grips aren’t nice, and they aren’t easy to listen to. The raw aggression and light speed pace of the whole thing will probably leave a lot of people nauseous. But if you give it some time, and release yourself to the chaos, you’ll find an album by a group doing amazing things, and pushing the envelope in a way that other artists only wish they could.