Monday, April 16, 2012

Death Grips - The Money Store (Epic, 2012)

From my report of Exmilitary to today, Sacramento trio Death Grips have encountered a swarm of new listeners and countless lyrical references spewed onto just about every social media platform. Even more remarkable than their prompt popularity is their recent signing to Epic, the major subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment. A margin of fans consequently chastised the band for the typical argument of falling prey to the money-hungry industry, though I suspect that they're just bummed about the inability to freely download a new Death Grips album without their consent. Zach Hill and Stefan Burnett disclosed that the label understood their vision, and The Money Store is evidence of their adherence.

The fans' discontent is warranted, but its impetus isn't any attempt at widespread appeal. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a weirder album in the Epic catalog. Much of what made Exmilitary's impact so great remains on The Money Store, though Death Grips' employment of Hill-attributed noise has waned. The experimentalism to compensate is in Burnett's rapping and articulation, which have devolved into hypnotic mantras and reinforced vocal edits. For instance, the chorus of the first track revealed by the band, "Blackjack", is a series of cyclical reversals bearing no decipherable lyrics. If this is a cash-grab, the revenue certainly won't be garnered from radio stations.

Death Grips met such great success last year not just because of their free marketing, but because of their allure to a number of disparate audiences. The Money Store is sure to challenge the once open-armed hip-hop community, for Burnett's verses and the baffling instrumentals have congealed into an even more cohesive unit. Exmilitary's subject matter dealt with addiction, loss of reason, and society's devolution into communication by internet slang. "Bitch Please" seems as if Burnett has succumbed to the primitivism once criticized with a line suggestive of southern rap, "Drop it like, oh yeah that's so trashy / How low can you go? How dirty can you get? / Nasty." It'd be an opportune moment to make a Lil Jon comparison if its trunk-rattling beat didn't maul traditional Asian music cuts and interrupt choice measures with deafening digital hiss.

With their primal lyricism and transfixing production, Death Grips have advanced their forte of inducing a bestial trance into listeners. This motif reaches its zenith when the band veers toward driving dance- and house-like rhythms on tracks such as "I've Seen Footage" and "Hacker", with repetitive, feral hooks. The former matches an adrenaline-rousing throb with accounts of filmed death and the unnerved response it can elicit. The latter instrumentally fits Wiley's self-defining mold of 'eski beat', though daunts, "I'm in your area / I know the first three numbers." The Money Store captures street life through an uncompromising lens foreseeing our implacably degenerate future-- a chord Death Grips have struck once before, but here it rings louder than ever. Stay noided, folks.

[Death Grips Website]
[Stream/Buy The Money Store from Epic]


  1. This band is crazy! Sick album art, really like the video for “The Fever”. Definitely picking up the album on 4/24

    1. The album will actually be released early for Record Store Day, 4/21. Mark yr calendar!