7 ½ / 10
Death Grips’ aesthetic doesn’t exist purely in the realm of audio. The aggressive hip-hop trio originally debuted last year with their music video for “Guillotine (It Goes Yah)”, in which MC Ride sits buckled into the passenger seat of a car, flailing like a psychiatric patient along to the beat of the song while white noise degrades the environment outside the car. It’s the ultimate representation of what makes them so interesting: In the junction between horror, grime, and noise, lies Death Grips creating some of the more challenging hip-hop around today.
While the centerpiece of their new album The Money Store is MC Ride’s often throaty, bellowing flow, drummer Zach Hill (more well known for his solo work and his band Hella) provides a crunchy backbone to the record with a rush of distorted, off-kilter beats. “The Fever (Aye Aye)”, the second track on the album, ends up being an unlikely single, if you could call it that. MC Ride sounds like he’s vomiting shrapnel over a junkyard remix of a Diplo track that only cuts out for a few brief seconds of breath and shouts of “Aye aye! Know what I’m sayin’?” Album closer “Hacker” features a futuristic interpretation of a classic Chicago house beat, over which Ride seems to flawlessly ramble nonchalantly from chorus to chorus.
The Money Store is the first of a pair of albums Grips plan to release this year. Impressive when you consider their acclaimed debut was released less than a year ago, and Zach Hill’s band Hella also released their fifth LP Tripper last year. Death Grips’ hyper-masculine presence isn’t something unique to hip-hop by any means, but hip-hop of the last few years has been characterized by simple, laid-back instrumentation with similarly lucid rhyming. It’s been refreshing, and opened many doors for experimentation, but sometimes you really just need a scrawny bearded dude to yell “We came to blow your system!” at you and then actually follow up on the promise.