Death Grips ‘The Money Store’ – Review

8 May

Epic Records is an off-shoot of Sony Music, before which it fell under the CBS umbrella. Epic signed Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Abba and the Cast of Glee. The guy in charge of the label is a judge on the American X Factor. Death Grips on the other hand are an angry, angry bunch of Hip Hop loving punks who shout a lot, rap about Anti-commercialism and bang drums harder than just about anyone going. Needless to say people were a bit surprised when it was announced last year that Epic would be releasing not one, but two Death Grips albums in 2012. But these people clearly don’t know the alternative history of Epic. The label is also home to The Clash, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine and Outkast. This is a label that not only likes angry, it’s a label that knows how to make angry SELL. Epic have released some really important ANGRY records.

And Death Grips, according to many websites at least, are an important band. According to many, their futurist, alien sounds are going to signal in a new era of rap-rock (*shudders*). Their music is corrosive, dangerous, political, antagonistic and occasionally (in the past at least) thrilling. Their songs are built around Zach Hill’s chaotic drum riffs, distorted, blaring synths and the odd youtube sample, which makes listening to Death Grips something akin to being continually hit over the head with a baseball bat, whilst rolling down a muddy hill. Fans of the group seem to agree with this sentiment, so I guess they must find this an appealing prospect, but personally it’s not something I want to be subjected to. I just don’t get it.

Don’t get me wrong, I like angry music, but all music, even angry music, has to have direction – Death Grips have none. No direction in their meandring song structures and no direction in what they are saying. You can’t decipher their lyrics just from listening to the songs; rapper Stefan Burnett has a screatchy, monotone delivery that makes him sound like a crazy man screaming at passers-by on a street corner. I assumed (based on critical hyperbole) that he must have something meaningful to say, but a close reading of the lyrics reveals this absolutely NOT to be the case. To be kind, you could call these nonsense poems, and there is a certain appeal in the rhythm and rhymes (‘Got got got got / Blood rush to my / Head lit hot lock / Poppin’ off theFuckin’ / block knot) but more often than not the lyrics are bland and crude (‘yeah we came to blow your system / you know what im sayin’ or ‘fucker please you must be smokin rocks / real shit for my people’).

‘The Money Store’ is a depraved record that desperately tries to be interesting and original but utterly fails in almost every respect (in fairness nobody else sounds quite like them). Rather than demonstrating the bravery of a Major Label for signing such a group, the album displays the total like of clarity and judgment at one of the biggest and most important labels in the world. It’s no wonder that even the Majors are struggling to survive if bands like Death Grips are being given the time of day.

Death Grips said in an interview that ‘we don’t want to make anything that supports indifference. We always talk about the middle of the road, and how it’s the worst place to be artistically.’  They have no cause to worry as this is not an album that will support indifference; I can’t imagine anyone giving this record 5/10, as  it’s a rare example of something people are going to love or hate. A lot of people seem to love it, but I have no idea AT ALL why. ‘The Money Store’ is not only a contender for the most overated album of the year, it’s also a contender for most overated album of the decade.



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