Shane Madill
The Silhouette

Whenever we listen to music, it is difficult to separate the music itself from the circumstances of the artist. What you know about the artist tends to influence your perception of the music. Death Grips, however, bridges this gap between reality and music; they complement one another.

Exmilitary, the initial Death Grips mixtape, was released with a sense of mystery in 2011. The physical cover image, described as a “power object,” was a photograph that one member of the group had in his wallet for ten years without knowing the origin. MC Ride was also the only known member of the three-piece group at this point. They are now recognized as a three-piece, consisting of Ride, Zach Hill, and Andy Morin.

Although Exmilitary’s follow-up, The Money Store, was released without any major complications and with critical praise on an actual record label, Death Grips’ subsequent decision to abandon their international tour to work on their next album angered the label and fans. The content and more industrial production of The Money Store further polarized fans, both those who were expecting something similar to Exmilitary and new fans attempting to get into the band.

This next album, entitled No Love Deep Web, turned out to be what launched Death Grips into widespread popularity. In a rebellious gesture towards their label, Epic Records, who wanted to delay the release of the album until 2013, the group leaked No Love Deep Web to the masses. The now infamous cover featured an erect penis with the album title written on it. The band described this as a spiritual thing, not too dissimilar from Exmilitary’s cover, and further explained how peoples’ hang-ups with sexuality, gender, nudity, and religion were “toxic and poisonous to the human mind, and the development of humans in the modern world.” This perspective also corresponds to The Money Store’s cover of an androgynous masochist on the leash of a smoking female sadist.

Death Grips was dropped from the label after this incident and for posting private emails in a Facebook post titled “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA NOW FUCK OFF.” At Lollapalooza 2013, they never showed up for their performance and instead displayed a suicide note written to them with a child’s learning drum kit in front, which was destroyed by the audience.

On Nov. 13, 2013, Death Grips released Government Plates without any forewarning and for free, similar to the methods they used for No Love Deep Web. The physical release of No Love Deep Web finally took place on Nov. 19.

Surrounded with self-created controversy, deeper societal observations, and a polarization over all of their actions, Death Grips represent the punk ideology of separating oneself from society only to criticize it. This is ironically coupled with an overarching feeling that they do not care about themselves or who they anger, even if who they anger is the intended target of the message.

 

 

 

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