Just by reading this headline you can probably guess who is writing this article. Yeah. Me, David, the guy who has been following Death Grips since they dropped Exmilitary in mid-2011, the guy who hailed The Money Store as the best album of 2012, the guy who, after three failed attempts to see the group live, finally did at FYF 2013. I’m the guy who probably introduced the group to everyone here at LA Music Blog.
There are names for people like me: “crazy” is one of them, and “fan” is the other. As a “crazy,” a “fan,” or a “crazy fan” of the Sacramento punk-rap trio, I’ve followed the group through each album release (including their latest free drop, part one of a double album entitled The Powers That B) and tabloid-worthy news such as the NO LOVE DEEP WEB label fiasco and the Lollapalooza 2013 cancellation (experienced firsthand). There have been many ups and many downs as a member of the church of Death Grips, but the ride has always been a blast.
But today, July 2nd, a post appeared on Death Grips’ official Facebook page with a picture of a note written on a napkin. It states:
we are now at our best and so Death Grips is over. we have officially stopped. all currently scheduled live dates are canceled. our upcoming double album “the powers that b” will still be delivered worldwide later this year via Harvest/Third Worlds Records. Death Grips was and always has been a conceptual art exhibition anchored by sound and vision. above and beyond a “band”. to our truest fans, please stay legend.
As a major supporter of this group over the past three years, I should be sad about this break-up, right? Not at all. Devastated? Hardly. On the contrary, I started laughing at the idea of Death Grips announcing to the world that they were breaking up on a piece of 2-ply paper. A fucking napkin.
Standard procedure for Death Grips has always been about being completely unexpected, sudden, and shocking, but this — this felt calculated. They had pulled out all the stops over the course of four (and soon to be five) albums in three years, which is a feat unto itself, but how much longer could the experiment really last before it began to feel stale?
Interestingly, I’m not sad; I’m glad that Death Grips has broken up. Their meteoric rise after Exmilitary and their exploration soon after into electronic noise and left-field rap expanded the musical playground with visceral force, and with their latest release, entitled Niggas On The Moon, it appeared that the band was at its very best. I’m glad to see that they quit while they were ahead and that we now have only incredibly memorable music to cherish.
But let’s get to the meat of this: Death Grips’ break-up is not the result of where their talents sat musically or creatively. If this note is to be taken at face value and the band has indeed quit, then it is Death Grips — the physical entity — that has quit. They proved in Chicago last year that they don’t even need to be at their own damn concerts to get a crowd to come out and experience what they embody as a project.
When they mention in this note that Death Grips has always been “a conceptual art exhibition of sound and vision,” they couldn’t possibly be any more accurate. They kick off their first mixtape — their debut — with a track entitled “Beware” and a quote from Charles Manson stating, “The game is mine / I deal the cards.” It’s a loaded statement laid on top of two alternating guitar notes before the track skyrockets with hair-raising synths and tribal bass drums.
Just take into account the track’s opening dialogue and sparse instrumentation, and you’ll see that we’ve have a thorough understanding of who Death Grips is and what they would be since less than a minute into their first full-length album. Death Grips, musically and lyrically, over the course of four albums and with a little controversy on the side, would control the game and play the pieces the way they wanted to, and that amount of confidence was both wonderfully refreshing and attracting.
I keep using the term “attract” in this article because that’s what Death Grips most appeared to be — an attraction, a ride that I continually came back to for the thrill, again and again.
Death Grips’ mantra in their music — filled with discord, non-linearity, anti-establishment, and disillusionment, and non-linearity — was so caustic and immediate that an all-too-soon break-up was perhaps inevitable, but the fact that they were able to be the biggest punks in music for so long is quite extraordinary, seeing as how easy it is for most major music outlets to chew out such daring acts. Not once in their discography does the band appear deflated or defeated, and they consumed these concepts to the best of their abilities, pulling rugs from underneath our feet with dirty deeds that, perhaps, fooled us into thinking that Death Grips was more than what it actually was, three men: Zach Hill, Stefan Burnett, and Andy Morin.
Of course, this break-up note could be another elaborate hoax to grab our attention. Even if it is, it only serves to confirm their point of existence.
The image attached to this article’s header and down below features no human being, which means this jacket can be worn by anyone as long as they are willing to go all the way with it. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing Death Grips again in the near future, just perhaps as an entirely different entity but one boasting the same anarchist fuel with which to ignite the flame under music’s ass.