For Fans Of
Californian trio Death Grips have an attitude aligned more with punk rock than with contemporary hip-hop. They’re about sticking it to The Man. Unlike other hip-hop outfits and "artists" involved in mainstream music, who will happily suck off their record labels under the table just to get ahead, Death Grips are calling the shots with their second studio album, No Love Deep Web.
To bring you up to speed, Death Grips self-released No Love Deep Web as a free online download on October 1. This move obviously rubbed their label, Epic Records, up the wrong way as Death Grips’ website, thirdworlds.net, was mysteriously shut down not long afterwards (it’s back online now). If giving the album away for free wasn’t enough, Death Grips added insult to injury with its totally unmarketable cover art of an erect penis with the title written across it. Unsurprisingly, this stunt sent online discussion into overdrive, which begs the question: do Death Grips really not give a fuck or is this clever marketing, dreamed up between band and label, masquerading as forward-thinking artistic integrity? Guess we’ll never know. In the meantime, we’ve got the meat and bones of No Love Deep Web to pick apart.
It’s only been a matter of months since Death Grips released their debut studio album, The Money Store, and already they’re pushing forward with its follow-up (though they’d always intended on releasing the two albums back-to-back, planting stickers in the CD case of TMS which read “No Love. Fall 2012”). Rumour has it Epic wanted to push the release of No Love Deep Web to 2013, which is another reason why the trio apparently decided to leak the album prematurely. Again, this is just speculation, further fuelling the mystery surrounding this release. What we do know for sure is this: No Love Deep Web picks up where Death Grips left off, tunnelling deeper down the rabbit hole initiated on their debut. It’s the second piece of the puzzle, raising just as many questions as it answers.
More than ever before, the trio’s experimental hip-hop sounds like something suited to an underground rave, all smoke machines and dense lighting. It’s beat-driven but far too aggressive, bleak and hysterical to be caught rubbing shoulders with any of today’s hip-hop luminaries. Stefan "MC Ride" Burnett spits rhymes like a man possessed on opener ‘Come Up and Get Me‘, his voice pushed to the point of breaking as Zach Hill and Andy Morin spin a tapestry of pulsating beats and smouldering synths around him. It’s unclear exactly what Ride‘s vitriol is aimed at, yet it’s engrossing nevertheless. As the album progresses things become increasingly tense with his paranoia-inducing refrain of "it’s all suicide" on ‘World Of Dogs‘ spinning a bleak picture, only to be outdone by the unease instilled by ‘Lock Your Doors‘, a track featuring roaring crowds, Orwellian voiceovers and Ride‘s cathartic barks of "I’ve got some shit to say, just for the fuck of it". It’s dark, brooding and feels as though the wheels could come flying off at any minute – which is also what makes it so enticing.
Unlike The Money Store, there’s no obvious single like ‘I’ve Seen Footage‘ this time around. These songs seep into one another and are best ingested as a whole instead of sampled as individual tracks. And while some will inevitably slap it with the tag `hip-hop’, that would be drastically underselling Death Grips‘ ability to apply their anarchistic aesthetic to a number of genres, from experiments in electronica/house (most notably on ‘Whammy‘, ‘Black Dice‘), industrial-strength stompers (‘No Love‘) through to pop (on the aptly-titled ‘Pop‘). During an age of rapid technological change, tracks like these see Death Grips harness the gadgets at their disposal to produce a futuristic pastiche of sounds and ideas.
Like a stolen car hurtling down the highway, No Love Deep Web swerves recklessly from one cathartic jam to the next, never compromising its adrenaline rush for a safe, conventional path. Download this album. Stream it. Borrow it from your friends. Do whatever you can to hear it. Death Grips are the sound of the future – now.