Some music isn’t for everyone. Some music arguably isn’t for anyone. But after more than 30 years of listening to music and feeling like I have a pretty good handle on why people like what they do, a lot of music’s success still catches me off guard. And no band is a better example of that than Death Grips.
Now, I understand why I like Death Grips. Their music is intense and aggressive, it’s abrasive and anarchic and confrontational and absurd. But it also has some serious jams. The Money Store is their best album to date, and will probably remain that way (though they’re still releasing pretty strong material, even if it’s inconsistent) because it’s loaded with bangers: “I’ve Seen Footage,” “Hacker” and “Double Helix” to name a few. And the quotables are numerous: “I stay noided!”, “You’re an intern! At Wikileaks!”, “Now who’s the one with all the coconuts, bitch!” Dumb? Maybe. Fun as hell? Absolutely.
The production doesn’t just bump, it detonates and causes maximum destruction to anything in its path. But somehow it’s still party music—what kind of party, I’m not entirely sure, but I know that I feel like cannonballing through windows when I hear it. Not all music can do that. Most doesn’t, and for that Death Grips connects with me on a sort of primal, visceral level. (I don’t actually crash through windows, but if the occasion ever arose, this would be the record to put on when it happens.)
For most other people who like Death Grips, the feeling is probably pretty similar. But there’s a cult of Death Grips that goes well beyond my own basic enjoyment of their music. I saw this firsthand at FYF in 2015, when after a pretty short soundcheck involving Ride asking the soundguy to turn everything way the fuck up, the crowd erupted into a frenzy of chaos after the first note. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite so unhinged and insane. They had a kind of hypnotic control over the crowd—which was massive (several thousand people at a minimum)—only instead of leading them Pied-Piper style in a harmonic trance, they seemed to provoke a maximum of frenzy and aggression. It was nuts. And that’s before we get into the subreddit and conspiracies and fan theories. The rabbit hole goes deep, friends.
Maybe it’s just because I’m in my thirties, or because I’ve always had a pretty laid-back demeanor, but I didn’t do that. It was a hell of a thing to watch though. And it spoke to why people see the group as being divisive. The theatrical embrace of nihilism, the antagonism toward their label and so on have created a lot of skeptics, and rightfully so. They’ve been branded “trolls,” and that’s probably not entirely untrue. But they’ve made some pretty solid records, and the performance of it all is something to behold, even if some of it is a little too over the top.
But while Death Grips as a phenomenon has been blown into something a little too absurd, I still love this record, and so does my wife, so clearly it was meant to be. And though the record is still ultimately an absurdist scream into the void, it makes a lot of sense when the world seems to be going to shit. Stay noided.
Sound Quality: Great