DEATH GRIPS – Bottomless Pit (Third World): There seems no way to make it through a review of this album and a larger survey of Death Grips in general without compartmentalizing. So here’s the first compartment:
First, more interesting than anything Death Grips does now is what the popular perception of them will be ten, twenty years from now. Not that it matters, but I wonder if their bluster will be held in as high regard then as it is today. Their existence from The Money Store though The Powers That B rested on an air of mystique—their brashness, their “fuck you” worldview, their self-presentation as agents of chaos. So when they announced disbandment I took it seriously and thought they had set out to achieve some artistic goal (don’t know what the goal might have been, but whatever) and had achieved it. Their purpose served, they were shutting down. But then they came back and gave us Bottomless Pit. Will anyone remember their antics? (Like putting a cock on their album cover? Or posting an internal email from their record label on Facebook? Or scheduling gigs and never showing up?) And if so, is all of it going to be viewed as harmless? Or is there something a little more sinister about them?
Second, props to anyone who speaks Death Grips. Not only is MC Ride’s, ahem, unique delivery nearly incomprehensible even through headphones, having a lyrics sheet in front of you doesn’t do anything to help decode what he’s saying; you have to rely on the joy-killer of Genius.com, and most of the interpretations there are beyond anything I’m willing to give credence. The lyrics read like they were put through Google translate enough times to make it a virtual phrase shredder that spits out word salad. So little could I draw from my first few glances that I quickly abandoned the project and had to let the music speak for itself. As for that music, everyone expects nothing but a barrage of aggressive noise from Death Grips, so it’s less shocking when the music descends into a bottomless pit of visceral, ear-splitting death metal rap than when it’s consistently listenable. No Love Deep Web and The Money Store, now four years in the past, seem so reserved in comparison.
Third, there’s something worrying about their aesthetic. I mean the incredibly loud approach, incredibly anti-everything stance, incredibly violent nature of their stage presence. It’s not just abrasive, it’s full of a machismo that lends itself to some pretty perverse persuasions, because no matter how you want to spin ‘em, lines like “Strictly ugly fuck for your cunt” and “Wouldn’t touch a fake bitch with latex here” aren’t friendly or funny. That’s not a celebration of debauched sex, but a celebration of pure degradation, and not solely sexual, either. I’m not accusing them of being crypto-fascists by any means, and I’d have no trouble believing they’re staunch anti-fascists, and that if MC Ride sat down and explained his lyrics line-by-line I’d see just how socially acute they really are. But it’s vague enough if you want it to be, as pugnaciously primal as you please, so it doesn’t matter how much I honestly enjoy how they make organized chaos sound groovy—it’s potent and primed. B PLUS (***)
Death Grips – Jenny Death (Harvest ’15) B PLUS (**)
Death Grips – Fashion Week (free download ’15) B PLUS (*)
Death Grips – Niggas on the Moon (free download ’14) B PLUS (***)
Death Grips – Government Plates (free download ’13) LEMON
Death Grips – No Love Deep Web (free download ’12) A MINUS
Death Grips – The Money Store (Epic ’12) B PLUS (***)
Death Grips – Exmilitary (free download ’11) B PLUS (**)