Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Death Grips
The Money Store
Epic [2012]

Few things are as genuinely stimulating as when nihilism breeds creativity. Sacramento's Death Grips are a peerless and aggressive concoction of conspiratorially threatening punk and hoarse cerebral rap presented with a relentlessly individual style that would just as soon bludgeon its influences as pat them on the back. My rabid interest in all things Zach Hill (DGs drummer/contributor/producer) alerted me to the group shortly before last year's Exmilitary was released.  The album's (I refuse to say 'mixtape' about anything that is not an actual cassette) lack of polish gave it inescapable grit and only heightened the hyper-realistic vibe of vocalist/shouter/instigator Stefan Burnett's lyrics. Only a matter of months later, DG's topped Best-Of lists, were a hype-hungry media's wet dream, and had two albums slated for 2012 release on major label Epic. This scenario isn't exactly new but historically it tends to set those involved up for a fall. Luckily, building on the laissez-faire approach of the label and Death Grips' own collective devotion, The Money Store has paid off on every but of potential it generated. The methodic cut-and-paste of the beats that make up tracks like "Double Helix", "Black Jack" and "The Cage" is in stark contrast to the up-tempo focus of opener "Get Got" - though all succeed in their respective attempts. "The Fever" takes a would-be anthem and pushes it down the stairs with a couple of dust-covered Casios, and "I've Seen Footage" effortlessly (and maybe even accidentally?) recalls Salt-n-Peppa's "Push It" in the brightest moment of an admittedly dark collection. Closer/stand out track "Hacker" could be mistaken for an LCD Soundsystem collab with its unrelenting high energy, consistent ramp-up, and oddly taunting chorus of "I'm in your areaaaaaa." Somehow Death Grips have shed the stale antiestablishment deviance of punk and rampant homogeny (no homo) of rap to create something challenging and mysterious yet utterly thought-provoking and enjoyable. Of course, I am speaking relatively; this is outsider music for those fed up with subcultures, labels, and outsiders. We won't have to wait long to see if they can maintain this pace (No Love is set for release in the Fall) but as for right now The Money Store is as hard to deny as it is to define.

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