Despite it being a stellar year for new hip hop, one act managed to stand out more than anyone else in 2011. I am of course talking about the unstoppable force of demonic audio destruction that is Death Grips. The Sacramento unit which consists of Zach Hill, Andy Morin and the undeniable force that is MC Ride aka Stefan Burnett, appeared out of nowhere last year, sending shockwaves through the bloggersphere. The love em’/hate em debate which took place after their debut ExMilitary dropped nearly had the online music community collapse from within. Whether you do in fact love what they do or you see them as nothing more than crass merchants of noise, there is no doubting Death Grips made one hell of an impact. Furthermore it appears they’re only getting started as this, their first of two records being released this year testifies.
The Money Store is the groups most “mainstream” release to date but believe me there is nothing mainstream about this. Death Grips are still as much of an unorthodox head fuck as ever before, but if you embraced the anarchy of ExMilitary then you’ll love what it’s follow up has to offer. Hill and Morin are still superglueing different genres together in a ragged ass manner, but if it aint broke and all that. There’s still a heavy sense of bass driven percussion, possessed glitchy electronics and weird, jagged samples presented in the form of an audible dirty bomb. But believe it or not there’s more thought and concentration put into the way tracks are pieced together, transitions seem more fluid and theres more after effects/post production tweaks. Although they still retains their dirty, sandpaper smooth, breakneck charm Death Grips seem tighter and more concise than before. The Money Store also see’s the group expand their palette somewhat too. From world music and ethnic sounds on “Fuck That” to a little bit of italo disco on the Lady Gaga heckling finale “Hacker”. On top of this MC Ride is back with his growling, howling vocal style in tact. Granted he’s perhaps not as abrasive and as forceful as he was on ExMilitary but he’s still loud, powerful and dominant. His lyrics are still dark, heavy and more than a little twisted, but if im being honest I wouldn’t want it any other way. This record actually see’s him slowly adapt his presence somewhat, which shows that it’s not just the instrumentation of Death grips which has room to move and expand.
The Money Store is certainly not going to convert any non believers, but it does do one hell of a job fortifying the reasons to get behind this group. By keeping their core strengths firmly in tact, whilst simultaneously showing us a few more tricks hidden up their sleeve, Death Grips have hit another homerun. Heres hoping album number two keeps this savage roller coaster on course.