“I got some shit ta say just for the fuck of it” from “Lock Your Doors”
To say that Sacramento experimental rap group Death Grips is toying with our minds is to imply that, really, they are fucking with it. To put it in more genial (I guess) terms, they’ve created quite a stir — everywhere. For starters, they dropped a free mixtape on the underground circuit that had us literally “gripped” with its loud and abrasive rap stylings, making it one of the wildest, most refreshing discoveries of last year. That was them having us by the throat musically, for sure.
But now, after releasing several visceral music videos to accompany their tracks; signing to a major label to release their first “official” studio album, The Money Store (which is still one of my favorite releases of the year); and cancelling their entire summer tour to finish the already-announced and now-taboo release NO LOVE DEEP WEB, Death Grips has more-or-less taken over all of our senses and placed us on a heaving-for-breath roller coaster ride unlike any we’ve experienced since the days of classic punk.
So let’s get right to it: for their second album with Epic Records, NO LOVE DEEP WEB, Death Grips chose to release the album for free at midnight on October 1st before the label had even heard it. That’s a brazen move — even by the standards that Death Grips has already set for themselves — and who knows what kind of trouble the group will get into with the label. But the fact of the matter is, the album is now digitally in the possession of thousands of fans across the globe. “Ouch!” for the label, and “Hurray!” for the rest of us.
Does the new record reflect this true-blue punk attitude? Check and mate. As I stated in my review of The Money Store, Death Grips has been in control of their career and their audience since the band’s inception, and if the album cover above doesn’t solidify that assumption, then I don’t know what does (check out the absolutely uncommercial, uncensored, very NSFW cover here for more evidence of what I’m talking about, as long as you promise to forgive me afterward).
Upon “opening” NO LOVE DEEP WEB, we have “Come Up and Get Me,” featuring an incredibly dense beat that almost adds pounds to your body just upon listening to it before breaking down into threatening synths and MC Ride at his most vocally fragile (if you didn’t think that was possible, it is). The track sounds a lot like an extension of “Lost Boys” from The Money Store but much more startling and, like the subject of the album’s cover, ready to go off any second.
The twelve tracks that follow contain the same spastic, aggressive energy and thick sound as NO LOVE DEEP WEB’s first track, which makes it quite a challenge to actually select an album highlight. I love that Death Grips keep it consistent, but other than the lyrical swaps, NO LOVE DEEP WEB’s tracks virtually blend together to form what I believe is one 45-minute track — and maybe that’s the point.
As Death Grips themselves have put it, “The material is cold, bass heavy, minimal, rock & roll influenced and could simultaneously fit into a rave or dance club context.” That accurate description applies to nearly every single one of these tracks, which exhibit the same flow you’d hear at a club filled with all the sweat, swag, fake fog, and strobing color you could ask for. The only thing missing is the gloss — the production is purposely gritty and bloodified in a way only Death Grips knows how to do so well — resulting in a chopped-and-screwed scenario that compares more to the stretched-out feeling of chaos that begins the moment after someone yells “Fire!” in a crowded theater than the raving fun of an evening partying in the club.
But I don’t find any of this to be a detriment to the album. In fact, it’s all a bit welcoming as that single-track aesthetic is one we have yet to see from Death Grips — on their previous efforts, you could easily pick out a track and identify it. While clearly less accessible, the album serves as an amalgamation of floating, pent-up aggression and cerebral textures. You can’t stop listening to NO LOVE DEEP WEB once you start it and can’t forget it once it’s over, controversy aside.
If I must choose a track to single out, however, “World of Dogs,” with its motorcycle-revving pulsation, Zach Hill’s lively drumming, and the repetitious hook “It’s all suicide,” isn’t something I would promote or crank at high volume driving down the street, but it is truly as invigorating and socially biting as any track Death Grips has ever put out. Or any of the last four tracks from “Stockton” to “Artificial Death In The West,” whose no-holds-barred approaches match those of any song you’d find on The Money Store. Really though, NO LOVE DEEP WEB is an album best listened to from beginning to end, as it captures soundscapes from artists who know the game so well at this point, it’s a challenge to try to imagine where they’re going to go from here.
For a final thought, I don’t believe Death Grips is creating controversy for the sake of controversy. There’s no public experiment going on here or subliminal advertising in the process. If I’m wrong and this situation with the label is all a hoax, you’re all welcome to call me out, but even without the controversy attached to the album, NO LOVE DEEP WEB proves that the members of Death Grips are music’s most intriguing punks and loudest critics, holding onto artistic freedom and expression the way most artists only dream about. Let’s just hope what I’ve heard — and now what you’ve heard — is the real deal.
What did you think about NO LOVE DEEP WEB or any of the news related to its free and unsupervised release? Let us know in the comments down below! Otherwise, listen to the album in full right above via Soundcloud (I’m expecting it’s still up at the time of this writing). Death Grips have also announced a fall/winter tour, with dates listed below. No LA stop as of now, but we’ll keep you posted if that changes.
Death Grips Tour Dates:
10/19 Brooklyn, NY – Pitchfork @ Villain
10/27 Asheville, NC – Moogfest
11/01 Berlin, Germany – Festsaal Kreuzberg
11/02 Brussels, Belgium – Magasin 4
11/03 Paris, France – Pitchfork Music Festival Paris
11/05 Bristol, England – The Fleece
11/06 Manchester, England – Sound Control
11/07 London, England – Electric Ballroom #
11/08 Amsterdam, Holland – Bitterzoet
11/10 Lyon, France – Riddim Collision Festival
11/13 Washington, DC – Rock and Roll Hotel
11/14 Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church
11/16 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
11/18 Toronto, Ontario – Wrong Bar
11/19 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
11/20 Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
11/21 Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
01/18 Sydney, Australia – Big Day Out Festival, Sydney Showgrounds
01/20 Southport, Australia – Big Day Out Festival, Parklands
01/25 Adelaide, Australia – Big Day Out Festival, Adelaide Convention Centre
01/26 Melbourne, Australia – Big Day Out Festival, Flemington Racecourse
01/28 Perth, Australia – Big Day Out Festival, McCallum Park
# with the Bug
For more info: