Review Summary: Stay Noided
Forgive the semiotic coding of salmonella, but it's not unfair to say MC Ride and Zach Hill aren't unlike a bacterial stomach infection, tearing through the music industries intestines and coming out the other end a complete toxic waste. Not that that's a bad thing; of all artists, Death Grips pride themselves on being fierce outsiders who got caught up in a system they couldn't survive in, a momentary presence that became a necessary evil for attracting a far bigger cult following. Since No Love Deep Web
, at least, they've made it fairly clear that they're artists enjoyed far more when in context, with the case being rather understated for the freely available first disc to their double album in the making the powers that b
, niggas on the moon
Noticeably shorter than previous outings and in most senses far more cohesive, niggas on the moon
does the Death Grips formula in a concise 30-minute package. Built upon the emerging hook fashion of The Money Store
and hostile attitudes of No Love Deep Web
, MC Ride's penchant for chauvinistic rapture and Zach Hill's sonic wastelands are taken in typical, if not enjoyable directions. Without having already encountering a Death Grips album, expect to face the musical equivalent of a mocking confrontation, "Say Hey Kid" and "Black Quarterback" strangely hook-laden anthems built upon tensely unwinding electric drum and synth beats, punctuated by brazen articulation of male sexuality. Without an obvious standout like "Guillotine" or "I've Seen Footage" however, niggas...
can tend to suffer, especially at a lean 8-tracks. Without this obvious hit the record relies far too much on the emergence of catchiness over times, an obvious difficulty that comes from force-fusing pop sensibilities to minimalist industrial aesthetic.
More notable now for being the precursor to Death Grips' surprise split, niggas on the moon
's original plot of being based upon heavy sampling of Bjork is somewhat retrospectively undersung; nowhere is her voice most notably butchered and reassembled into a wall of industrial terror than "Up My Sleeves", sonic architecture boasting menacing beats courtesy of Zach Hill and typically paranoid and uncontrollable screaming from MC Ride. It's sometimes difficult to disassociate the stunts of Death Grips from the music of Death Grips, with the rampant Bjork sampling providing unusually dense hooks to these IDM dirty bombs, subliminally hanging in the background and rewarding all brave enough to get past titles like "Have a Sad Cum" and "*** Me Out". It's disheartening but ultimately part of their charm, with the headlines that hang over the band often taking Death Grips' brilliant musical power out of focus.
With that in mind, try for one second to forget all the distribution hullabaloo, all the erect penises and sharpies, all the middle fingers in the air over affluent Californian suburbs, all the cumbersomely difficult to say song titles, all the abandoned live shows and sudden break ups written on dirty pieces of scrap paper (hard, isn't it?); remove Death Grips of their publicity stunts and consider what is left. As much a tribute to the spirit of Rock & Roll and Punk as 'experimental' Hip Hop, Death Grips are a threatening, dangerous, sexual slice of art not intended for mass consumption. For now we may be left with just jenny death
to look forward to, but the decision to suddenly pack up shop will ultimately be a rewarding one. Yes, Death Grips will now always be remembered as blatant publicity whores, but that's just how it should be. When future generations one day revisit the Bjork/Death Grips album they will be amazed at how well they managed to walk the talk- as far as any penultimate chapter goes, that's a one hell of a status to have.