Death Grips: No Love Deep Web
- Californian experimental hip-hop group Death Grips are about as far on the outskirts of stuff still classifiable as hip-hop as you can get, and if you consider the majority of hip-hop that comes out of the American West Coast, the group seem even more out of place: Snoop Dogg or Jurassic 5 this is not. Death Grips make music that has more in common with hardcore, IDM, and industrial than most rap: it's aggressive, throbbing, tribal and is simply intense and exciting music that demands your attention and if nothing else, it's certainly gotten mine.
After a stunning debut mix-tape that came totally out of the blue no more than a year and a half ago, the group quickly started picking up momentum. Regardless of which side you take, Death Grips force you to take one and I'm one of those who finds it hard not to get on board with a group so willing to go against the grain. In an equal parts inspired but unfortunately, ultimately poor and short sighted decision, Sony off-shoot Epic Records signed the group as part of the label's continued efforts to remain relevant, somehow hoping that a group that seem hell-bent on freaking people out could be made marketable by such a big, out of touch, evil super-company.
Well Death Grips put out a record through Epic earlier this year and despite it being totally boss and receiving nothing but love from all the right places, apparently only shifted 3,200 units in it's first week, one of the lowest first-week, major label album sales in history. Though I'm not that stoked to be proven right in this instance, the poor, poor sales didn't surprise me in the slightest. In a move that seems fitting for an industry hell bent on a quick fix, Epic pushed Death Grips second planned 2012 release back to a loosey-goosey, "sometime in 2013" date, that showed an alarming lack of confidence in a group that have already proven themselves as something really quite special, a band bursting with energy and, ah, moist with creative juices.
In a move that only seems fitting from a group that have been shown absolutely no faith from their label, Death Grips, out of nowhere, recently uploaded that completed upcoming album to every corner of the internet, allowing the record to be downloaded legally and under an open copyright that should keep the record free and readily available for the foreseeable future. Oh yeah, not only did they drop the album, out of nowhere and free of charge, Death Grips also thought they'd scrawl the album title on some mysterious, erect penis and made that the album cover: another big bird right in the face of any and all of those who HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR IT!!
That new record, the unsurprisingly ambiguously titled, No Love Deep Web, sees Death Grips constant evolution continue, it's my favourite of theirs thus far: it feels like the best parts of the first two records with this added, fierce sense of direction and purpose. The groups frontman MC Ride still sounds angry, menacing and paranoid- but this time round is deadly focused, combining seamlessly with Zach Hill's almost tribal, pulsing beats and drumming, a mixture of both organic and synthetic, live and preprogrammed.
A small few seem to believe the whole drama surrounding the release of No Love Deep Web is some kind of super-complex, deep as all hell, insane media stunt - it seems far more likely to me to be the actions of people that feel like they've been wronged, kicking against the pricks (or maybe, with that album art, kicking with pricks?) - and if that isn't a good enough reason to do all sorts of crazy crap, then I don't know what is.
Despite that exposed johnson that continues to eye-ball me from the front cover of No Love Deep Web, the record will likely go down as one of my favourites of 2012. It's an uncompromising and unforgiving album from a group that refuse to lie down and take it. Album closer, Artificial Death In The West, isn't the most full-on, in your face Death Grip songs, but is a fine example of a band growing and morphing, evolving and creating constantly without fear.
- Jay Edwards.