Artist Spotlight – Death Grips

Artist Spotlight courtesy of Man with Lute

Death Grips is an experimental rap trio. MC Ride provides vocals, Zach Hill provides the drumming, and Andy Morin provides synthesizers. Zach and Andy also have other assorted instruments they provide. If you haven’t heard of them, or heard them ‘experimental rap’ is pretty vague. The word ‘noise’ is often thrown around as well. That might give a better understanding. Hearing it really helps though. Many people here I imagine have seen Bojack Horseman. If you remember when Bojack is tripping while they’re trying to write his memoir. Well, the music in the background was Death Grips. It’s this song.… It’s kind of off-putting. Well, I imagine it could be. Death Grips’ songs all feel fairly similar. And the music videos are all that weird, or worse. There isn’t necessarily a changing vibe within their work. I’m not sure what the vibe is. It runs from Satanism to Atheism to Anarchy to Post-Apocalypse to straight up evil. Their songs also sound quite similar. They have a definite musical style that hasn’t really evolved, but has just experimented with every aspect of the sound. So, all of the songs work with each other, but you can tell the difference. That can be said for about every artist, but it stands out more with a genre of music that is almost unique. What also happens with a similarity of sound means that I’m less paying attention to the musicality, or the lyrics. Loudly and clearly repeated choruses, and weird non-sequitur versus are the only things I really pick up, and dissect. Most of the time it’s the feeling of listening to them that I like. It’s why I enjoy them so much. It’s how they were able to very quickly become one of my favorite artists ever. They’re always angry, but when I listen to them I can be angry and pumped, or angry and being consumed by the darkness of reality. That may sound bad, but it’s really fun to feel like you know that the world is terrible and dark while walking through a high school’s hallways on the way to a test you haven’t studied for. Death Grips, through means of aggressive lyrics and vocals, noisy noise-music, and a low level of popularity in mainstream circle, has been able to make me feel unique while still not alone. It also helps that I introduced my friend to them, and he likes them.

Now, a short interlude about deep feelings, before I get back to talking music.

As an atheist in a school that has an ad for a church in our gymnasium, and often has administrators ask for people to pray, I feel pretty alone. I don’t say “under one god” during the pledge, and when we all do it in the auditorium, and you can hear every other person doing it, including friends and teachers, I feel very much out of the norm. It’s almost a sort of shame, and a definite fear. I don’t talk about it, unless I need to. Example conversation: “Are you still Jewish?” “No, I’m atheist.” “Why?” “I don’t believe in a higher power” *walks away in confusion* And that’s a good conversation. In TOK someone said that an atheist would be more likely to pull the lever to move the train to kill less people in the thought problem. As the sole atheist in the room, I said that that was ridiculous, especially considering that I would not pull the lever. Basically I feel alone about being an atheist and don’t feel good about it. Death Grips has some atheist sounding lyrics. I am glad about that. It means I can listen to a lyric like “to pray is to accept defeat” and feel kind of good about being atheist, instead of feeling ashamed for just not being able to believe. I just like to have little outlets that don’t have me feeling like I have to hide it, or apologize.

Because I feel it’s hard to explain their music, I’ll just talk about certain songs/lyrics. I distinguish most of the songs by how they feel, but it’s more like a binary. Head banging or silent walking. What really makes songs stand out is lyrics. The lyrics that stand out are the ones that are weird and funny.

This is “I Want It I Need It (Death Heated)” I’m pretty sure it’s mainly about sex and drugs, so there’s a lot of ridiculous stuff. The best moment is this silence, an then “Responsibility’s cool, but there’s more things in life/like getting your dick/rode all fvcking night.” This is quickly followed by “Volcano pussy melt your peter like ice.” This was made even funnier when I watched the Chapelle sketch Blackzilla. Which now has a new meaning/perspective, since I looked up Blackzilla without the Chapelle modifier.


The next song with great lyrics, and probably the best in their catalogue is “Hacker.”

It’s almost all non-sequiturs. Starting with “Going back to Tangiers” Standouts include, but are not limited to, “Post Christian sh!t, post chicken and the egg addiction sh!t,” “visited Tesla’s grave for the 9th time today,” or “now we got all the coconuts b!tch.” It’s a lyrical puzzle, with imagery whizzing around everywhere, possibly signifying some grand importance, or maybe just a joke.

“World of Dogs” has the chorus/repeated words of “It’s all suicide,” which becomes very infectious. It’s not necessarily the best thing to hear when depressed, or even not depressed, but it just sticks in my head.

Similarly on “Lock Your Doors” the chorus is “I’ve got some sh!t to say, just for the fvck of it.” Just some fun/dark/kind of meaningless platitude.

The final lyric that has stuck out is the chorus to “The Powers That B.” There’s the part that goes “the powers that B are running through me,” which is fun to sing/yell, but then it gets better. Ride begins with “my favorite color is …” [pause for dramatic effect is of my won creation, and not in the song] “oh my god b!tch”

So, that is the end of my Artist Spotlight. This was fun. I like writing, and while this is probably bad it was fun trying to figure out why I really like this band, and their music. Stay noided.