A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


Death Grips: Your Favorite Band’s Favorite Band

Since its inception, popular music has always been about generating hype, money, and appeal behind superstar artists. Every generation there comes an artist that completely shatters any expectations and changes both popular and independent music forever. Death Grips, who can be best described as a “noise rap trio,” is the most important band of the current wave of modern music.

Death Grips (DG for short) is comprised of vocalist MC Ride, drummer and producer Zach Hill, and audio engineer Andy Morin. These three artists collaborated first as Death Grips when they released the mixtape “Exmilitary” in April of 2011. The tape is harsh, abrasive and dark, and the best example of this sound is the first track Beware. The song opens with a grim monologue taken from an interview with Charles Manson in prison; beneath the unsettling words of a killer rings the haunting tone of an untuned guitar while Manson proclaims:

As soon as the monologue ends, the song explodes with a cacophony of sound behind Morin’s sampling of horns and Hills distorted drum beat. MC Ride screams guttural vocals into the mic:

Death Grips, at the 52 second mark of their first mixtape, have left a lasting mark on the music world. I, much like most of those who heard this when it was first released, was blown away. DG continued on this mixtape with their dark and noisy take on hip-hop. Between Hill’s fantastic drumming, Ride’s aggressive vocal delivery, and Morin’s unique sampling of artists like Black Flag, Pink Floyd, and even The Pet Shop Boys, the trio had created something truly originally that had never been heard before.

“Exmilitary,” upon release, was met with critical and fan praise all around from those who had heard it. Nate Patrin, critic and contributor to the largest indie music news website Pitchfork, wrote, “With drumming by Zach Hill (Hella, Marnie Stern), the Sacramento punk-rap outfit offers a bludgeoning slab of hostility on its free mixtape.”

These reviews were standard as more and more enthusiasts were starting to hear this record. Anthony Fantano, better known as “theneedledrop” on YouTube, said “[Exmilitary] is one of the most boundary challenging pieces of hip hop I’ve heard in awhile.” The hype and word of mouth only began to build their following.

Today, Death Grips is one of the most popular independent bands on the scene today. Since “Exmilitary,” Death Grips have released five studio albums to date: “The Money Store,” “No Love Deep Web,” “Government Plates,” “The Powers That B,” and “Bottomless Pit.” They also have a new album due out later this year entitled “The Year of the Snitch.” Each of their records sounds incredibly unique and equally as powerful as that first track from “Exmilitary.” They all have a distinct style that is separate from the other, so much so that they sound like a completely different band compared to when they first started.

Death Grips is a rare music act that has changed independent music entirely. The indie landscape has never been the same since they appeared on the scene. While Death Grips themselves aren’t for everyone, their influence can be heard all over in popular music. Kanye West’s 2013 record “Yeezus” took influence from Death Grips using obscure samples, screaming, and noisy electronics to create a violent sound. Even legendary recording artist David Bowie was influenced by DG on his final record “Blackstar,” according to his producer, Donny McCaslin, in an interview with Uncut.

“For instance, when describing one of the first songs we recorded, ‘Somewhere’, David referenced the Boards Of Canada song ‘Alpha And Omega’ [which McCaslin recorded] as an approach. We’d talk about Death Grips, this band in California [too].”

DG’s influence is only starting to infiltrate the mainstream with celebrities like Fred Armisen and Robert Pattinson singing their praises. Death Grips are ready to take over. I implore everyone that likes experimental music to give this band a try. They truly are unique and one of kind in today’s flood of drab samesy sounding artists. Death Grips are a violent breath of fresh air and offer a new take on old genres that desperately needed some originality.

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Jason Mills, Author

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