Ah, how we shall miss the Death Grips/Epic Records affair—a saga so torrid, so thrilling, so brief.
Back in February, the subversive Sacramento-based hip-hop trio signed to the major label, even though Grips had released a self-titled EP in March 2011 and a free mixtape, Exmilitary, exactly seven weeks later. In April of this year, Epic issued The Money Store, their debut LP, to praise and kisses from the music press. The record leaked a tad early, but everything was still gravy.
Then, on Oct. 1, Grips put NO LOVE DEEP WEB—their second album with Epic and numero dos overall—online for free, claiming that the label had given no plans to release it until 2013. “The label will be hearing the album for the first time with you,” the group noted on Twitter. Later that day, drummer Zach Hill said that Epic had taken the group’s site offline; Epic denied any involvement. On Oct. 31, Grips used their Facebook page to publish gritted-teeth emails between the label and band management that indicated Epic was very unhappy with the group’s decision to leak NO LOVE. The band’s screenshot of the exchange was accompanied with a laugh and “FUCK OFF.” Come Nov. 1, and Epic was no longer in the Death Grips business, and angels wept in silence.
On some level, the union was doomed to perish. Death Grips pride themselves on being abrasive, provocative and doing nothing to appeal to outsiders. The perpetually shirtless Stefan Burnett (aka MC Ride) barks and rants about mortality, society and abstract concepts in a voice that’s intelligible maybe a quarter of the time, and the group’s drum/keyboard-driven chaos is just as sharp and hostile. Hill described their work as “future primitivism” and “accelerated,” which are especially apt descriptions if you imagine them in particularly polarizing, confrontational terms. Get these dudes to a fringe indie label stat.
Wed., Nov. 14, 8:30pm. $15. With Mykki Blanco. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. r5productions.com
PW's Music Issue 2014