Review Summary: "My existence is a momentary lapse of reason"
From the opening of ‘Get Got’, it’s obvious how high Death Grips’ ambition lies. The brief introduction is followed briskly by a landscape - the catchiest hook since who knows when. What serves alongside it, though, is a sense of urgency, a desire to make important music. Death Grips have made it clear that they aim for impact, that every controversial revolution is a successful one, and (most fundamentally) that The Money Store
is as abrasive as it is for a reason. The bass gurgles of ‘Hustle Bones’ are moving towards the set goal of affronting the listener into listening, much like the purpose of the alarm-esque hook of ‘Fever’, the bludgeoning noise that reaffirms Death Grips don’t follow the conventional route with their hip-hop. They even take Tyler, The Creator’s philosophy on controversy and turn it inside-out. Here it isn’t about grabbing attention from the words but rather strengthening them through a solid backbone, one that consists much of Stefan Burnett’s shouts that always ride on the verge of being grating.
It would be inaccurate to deem Stefan Burnett’s particular brand of shout anything than what it is. His chants are the most extreme aspect of The Money Store
, and they obfuscate the music’s main lyrical themes. From track to track Burnett’s voice is poised overbearingly over the intricate beats, and this can be seen especially in the statement titled “Punk Weight”. It’s often too much, and while the intensity of Death Grips’ latest is commendable it’s most potent in small doses because of this characteristic. Every word suffocates the listener, tosses a blanket over their head that’s often too dense to be comforting.
Overall, though, The Money Store
is a trip easiest to appreciate with repeated listens. At first all noticeable is the irregular vocals, but when the initial shock settles the beats are given more opportunity to shine. And shine they do - whether it’s the exotic hook in ‘Double Helix’ or the earth-shattering approach taken on ‘Bitch Please’ - because the album stands confidently in the front of the modern hip-hop scene. Whether this means that it’s a journey you’ll enjoy or one that’ll irritate more than desired, it’s impossible to say. However, chances are that opinions on The Money Store
will continue to be as polarizing as they’ve been thus far. Some say that the truly inspirational albums are the ones that cause such a division in the musical community, and this type of ideology labels this album as quite the revolution, a brutal attack on what 2012 hip-hop should strive for instead of merely floundering amongst what’s expected.
It’s undeniable that The Money Store
is an important album to Death Grips, and although its bluntness is grating it's simultaneously rewarding. Even if the occasional track reaches too far - even if ‘Blackjack’ has no redeeming qualities whatsoever - what will be remembered is the jaw-dropping approach Death Grips take, the frenetic insanity found in ‘Lost Boys’. With this on the market, it’ll be tough for hip-hop to follow any set formula, to establish itself without stirring the blood further. And as we determined earlier, any controversial revolution is a successful one. In this case, The Money Store
shakes the ground beneath our feet in precisely the way it intended to.