Death Grips - The Money Store [REVIEW] - Idol Threat: Warning Shots at the Mainstream


Friday, September 07, 2012

Death Grips - The Money Store [REVIEW]

Here's our first ever guest review written by Doug who runs the Pirate Programming Blog (see our blogroll links on the side):  "Preparing to go to the gym. Throw on the earbuds and press play on Death Grips new album, The Money Store. Immediately I am almost being commanded to punch out the barking dog outside. Clothesline the toddler running through the apartment hallway. Kick my landlady in the va-jay-jay. It may sound like something straight out of the David Berkowitz (aka the Zodiac Killer) playbook, but maybe in his schizo brain he saw into the future and heard this album. I mean this thing is sick!

In the mid 90's I was part of a Hip Hop group that was young and hungry. We basically jumped at any opportunity to perform regardless of how unfitting the venue seemed. Many of the shows we performed at were with DIY bands of punk/hardcore background. Let's say you took a kid from that scene that was exposed to Hip Hop and hardcore. Let's say he died in some tragic Rock & Roll overdose but was brought back to life like the cyborg Cain from Robocop 2. If you then fed that resulting robot the history of Drum & Bass and forced it to make beats, you may get something that sounds like this album. It is a splatterpunk onslaught of the senses. It is futuristic, it is unsettling and it is getting better with every listen. There are times when it sounds like pieces of Dieselboy's Soldier Story, DJ Scud, M.I.A or Techno Animal. But, honestly any comparison is a disservice because it really doesn’t resemble much out there. Laser didgeridoo sounds rub shoulders with flanged bass lines. Drum patterns skitter insect like. It just sounds so badass! I mean as soon as the synth line from Blackjack starts, it's instant grimey face for me.

So what's up with the vocals? Honestly I have listened to it about 4 times now, and I still really have no clue what MC Ride is saying (yelling). Ride sounds like RZA with roid rage. He is so pissed he is almost indecipherable. But I tried to picture the music without him and I think he really benefits the tracks. He may be saying the most profound shit for all I know but for me it's not about that. Ride adds viscera, blood and testosterone to the tracks just with his tone and rhythm. He is part of the music. That being said, Raid is really spittin' as well. Check out the lyrics on Death Grips Soundcloud page (at the bottom of this post) if you were like me and bought the MP3 album and not the CD. For the most part, MC Ride takes what many deem as negative about rap and injects those stereotypes with adrenalin. His lyrics are nightmarish and gruesome. He reminds me of the character on the first Black Sheep album. On that song, Dres mocked gangsta culture by taking his violent stories to a hyperbolic level. If you take that character and put him in a post apocalyptic future, you get MC Ride. But I still feel that it is parody. This may be the level of intensity necessary for our media saturated culture.

I will say my only qualm, and I don't even know if its a qualm, is that I had to crank the bass in my car because on the whole the album is very compressed and lacking real low end. But I really am not bitching. The lo-fi sound quality is definitely part of Death Grips' sound and that brings me to my final point. For all the people that will blast this album and say it isn't Hip Hop or that its too noisy; AT LEAST THEY HAVE A SOUND! I find that most Hip Hop acts nowadays are so homogeneous. Most mainstream "rap" is at the pinnacle of its formulaic trajectory (I said most not all, we can talk about that some other time). Even the Hip Hop purists are beginning to all sound the same (you must sound like Pete Rock, Jay Dilla, Diamond D - insert golden age producer name here.) Where is the originality in that? That is boring as fuck! I picked up De La Soul's 3 Feet High & Rising from the library when I was 10 and it changed my life. Not because it sounded like something I had heard before, but BECAUSE I HAD NEVER HEARD ANYTHING LIKE IT. From that point on I was consumed by Hip Hop. Istill abide by that philosophy, I still crave finding new and different things and I still honor innovation. So does Death Grips. The Money Store is truly unique and it barely resembles what is considered 'Hip Hop.' It is something totally else. Completely essential listening." - HRRRSHW

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