Death Grips: The Money Store Review


The Money Store is the first of two albums to be released this year by Death Grips, the Sacramento-based hip-hop trio comprised of vocalist Stefan Burnett (a.k.a. MC Ride) and producers Andy Morin (a.k.a Flatlander) & Zach Hill (of Hella/Team Sleep fame). The group released their debut mix-tape 'Exmilitary' online for free in April 2011, which generated a decent amount of buzz owing to its experimental, aggressive and idiosyncratic sound defined by eclectic sampling, Ride's borderline rabid vocal delivery and glitchy, complex beats.

Since then they've signed to Epic Records and their songwriting has evolved slightly, especially in terms of production and song structure. Tracks such as 'Get Got', 'I've Seen Footage' and 'Hacker' tone down the loudness and the psychosis somewhat in favour of incredibly written hooks and danceable beats. For the most part though, this is not easy listening. The majority of the album is unrepentent in its ferocity and abrasiveness, despite the occasional curveball track such as the Eastern influenced 'Punk Weight' and latest single 'Hustle Bones', which creates a weird juxtaposition between techno-tinged synths and Ride's usual vocal fusillade. I don't know why it works, but it does.

Comparisons have been made between these and acts such as dälek for their similar use of noise and discord but Death Grips take this deliberately alienating style to such an extreme that The Money Store could be interpreted as a sort of Futurist concept album. Both the lyrics and the production focus heavily on themes of violence, ugliness, speed, energy, noise, technology, contemporariness and intoxication. Yet despite how outlandish the content is, it doesn't feel contrived, artificial or self-aggrandizing in any way. However, this devotion to one general sonic and philosophical idea does mean that some of the more straightforward tracks fail to stand out. 

In short: The Money Store is the kind of music that makes you want to snort bath salts, take off all your clothes and eat a homeless man's face. It's either the soundtrack to schizophrenia, or hip-hop taken to its logical conclusion. Either way, it's great. 8

Michael Baker