Label-trolling experimental hip-hop trio Death Grips has broken up.
If you’re a music fan with a karate belt in pursuing music blogs, these are the dudes with that one notoriously phallic album cover that adorned 2012’s No Love Deep Web. 2011’s Exmilitary was the group’s first, and a cross-platform, blog shine release. On cuts like “Guillotine,” rapper Stefan “MC Ride” Burnett performed as if ragingly drunk in the booth—slurring words, hurling abuse, simultaneously falling asleep at the mic and making up for it with wind sprint cadences.
It was emotive and oily, tough to decipher but satisfying with repeat listens because of its anvil production from producer Andy “Flatlander” Morris and spine-clanking drumming from Zach Hill.
But yeah, the rapping was reclusive and mush-mouthed. The gimmick was this self-serious, subversive streak of raging against the suburbs. In June, the band released a 30-minute LP Niggas On The Moon in sudden, surprise fashion.
Critics didn’t seem to be feeling it. Wrote MySpace:
Moon is a more pleasant listen than Deep Web, which is not exactly a compliment. To be fair, the second half of Government Plates, their last album, remains one of the biggest mindfucks in recent memory. That sensory rush, which climaxes with the ultra-dense, defiant rave banger “Whatever I Want (Fuck Who’s Watching),” can’t be matched, but it’s like Death Grips didn’t even attempt to reach those emotional highs on their new record. Much of the buzz surrounding Moon has to do with Björk’s presence, and no disrespect to her at all, but that aspect of the album is played up entirely too much. Her vocals push this away from the stark minimalism that defined No Love, but don’t do much more. Death Grips chop up her vocals in staccato blasts throughout the album, which, in their overall smoothing of their sound, largely feels like them going through the motions. The turmoil surrounding No Love’s released was criticized by some as a publicity stunt, and Björk’s appearance carries the sense that Death Grips just wanted to say “oh look, we have Björk on our record, isn’t that cool.” Sadly, they just might be proving their critics right.
Upon hearing of the breakup, Rolling Stone critic and deliciously flippant critic Chris Weingarten tweeted a nod to “Guillotine” immediately after tweeting out a sad-faced emoticon.
they came, they saw, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes, it goes,
— Chris Weingarten (@1000TimesYes) July 2, 2014
Weingarten profiled Death Grips in print Spin in 2011, and it was one of those holiday season airport snags you hang onto well after the flight so you can cross-check the artists. At its best, the band was a militant watchdog for the age of Anonymous.
Photo via thirdworlds.net
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