Death Grips - The Money Store Review

It’s nasty, it’s noisy, it’s basic and primal.

rating: 5

Death Grips are a three piece hip hop ensemble comprised of drummer Zach Hill (Hella), producer Andy Moring aka Flatlander and Stefan Burnett aka MC Ride on vocals, all Sacramento bread. Formed at the very tail end of 2010, they most came to prominence in 2011 with a handful of videos, but most notably the mixtape they dropped last April, that went by the name of ExMilitary. Before we delve into this review, let€™s make it clear, referring to Death Grips as hip hop is somewhat of an understatement. Kind of akin to calling The Dillinger Escape Plan a blues band, or the noisiest, glitchiest electronic producer a dance act. Sure that€™s where it all started in all three cases, but you€™ll note there€™s been some evolution along the way. To give a prime example that€™ll demonstrate it better than my hyperbolic analogies ever could, here€™s a cut from the aforementioned mixtape. Still free to download by the way from their site. As you€™ll note from the above example, all the core elements of hip hop are there; beats, samples, rap. As with mathcore though, there€™s a lot more at work than just the core elements. With bits and pieces pilfered from a variety of other genres and everything turned up one notch passed 11 on the dial, the one that€™s just labelled extreme. It might surprise you then that this, their official debut album, is on a major label. You might have heard of it too; Epic Records (originally a jazz label) which is owned by Sony Music Entertainment. Not bad for a trio of noiseniks that most would turn off pretty quickly, not invest in. Oh, and this debut album, that follows up their mixtape after just a year, is going to be followed up by their second full length album before this year is out. The Money Store first greets you with the trashy, monochrome illustration adorning its cover as it depicts a skanky, chain smoking dominatrix with Death Grips carved into her bare breasted gimp€™s chest. This is quickly followed up by opening salvo Get Got, a track that opens with synthetic tribal beats and a skittering chopped vocal before quickly filling its textures out with scuttling synth arpeggios atop layered loops and glitchy snares. It€™s as good an opener as any, and goes someway to showing that this time around Death Grips have more to offer than just the visceral and abrasive. If you think that means easy listening (and Get Got is by no means €˜easy€™ listening), you€™d be quite mistaken and The Fever (Aye Aye) soon puts that thought pattern to bed as MC Ride spits the gutter at you through flows addled with coke, lives wasted, bubonic plagues, clawed fingernails and blades. Sure, your average gangsta flows verbose about cocaine, violence and bitches, but this isn€™t showy, cartoony, polished bragging. This is nasty, visceral and venomous. The character MC Ride portrays throughout (and you hope it€™s a character) isn€™t some gory horrorcore cartoon or badass alphadog gangsta, he€™s vicious and primal. Lost Boys slows things down and paints a picture like a nihilistic future dystopia with its harsh textures alone, while Blackjack cuts, pastes and snaps beats into hypnotism as it amps up the anxiety with sirens phasing in and out and reversed lyrics underpinning the junkie paranoia of the raps and threats of robbin€™ you blind. Hustle Bones gets heavier again with its thick glitch synths, but it€™s after this on I€™ve Seen Footage that you really see the layers of light and shade that are mixed in with the white noise on offer. Taking the dirty fuzz, the glitches, the loops, the abrasive and militaristic kit sounds and arranging them in such a way it€™s almost accessible. As if, were this track composed of your more traditional synths and instrumentation it could be a typical hip hop track, and I use the term typical lightly. As it is though, it€™s noise funk. This isn€™t the only display of colour though, as throughout the album there hooks littered that you might not expect, but still grab you all the same. Prime examples of such hooks, alongside the ones scattered and hidden through the already mentioned tracks, are on the two closing tracks Bitch Please and Hacker. Never before will you have wanted more join in a sing along of €˜bitch please you must be smokin€™ rock... fucker please you must be smokin€™ rock!€™ Hacker goes some way to show too that, for all the nasty, cut throat insanity of tracks like System Blower, The Cave and Punk Weight, Death Grips are capable of being catchy and accessible if still abrasive and intense. It€™s nasty, it€™s noisy, it€™s basic and primal. It€™s layered and it€™s textured but it ain€™t pretty. It€™s aggressive and it€™s visceral but it€™s absorbing. It€™s new. If you can stomach it, it€™s ultimately rewarding, and you€™ll be pining through the short months to the follow up. What can I say? They€™ve €˜got all the coconuts, bitch.€™ WEBSITEFACEBOOK

Life's last protagonist. Wannabe writer. Mediocre Musician. Over-Thinker. Medicine Cabinet. @morganrabbits