Release Date: Nov 19, 2013
Record label: Harvest
For a moment, forget about the cock on the cover: The most arresting and totemic image of this week's Death Grips debacle and/or coup actually arrived about five hours before the brazen California trio released its second major-label LP, NO LOVE DEEP WEB, online, for free and under an anything-goes Creative Commons license. Shirtless so as to expose the web of tattoos on his body, Death Grips frontman MC Ride stands with his back to the camera, his middle fingers foisted high and a cigarette tucked into his left hand. But he's balancing on a balcony, high up in what appears to be a rather well-furbished neighborhood, his toes hanging just over the ledge.
As far as the argument over whether Death Grips are indie rap's great, destructive Dada Art crew or whether they are just the genre's Spinal Tap, the excellent No Love Deep Web suggests they're the sophisticated former, even when the album's title is written on an erect penis for all the world to see. Slip the official physical release out of its porno-concealing black slipcover and that phallic photograph stands loud, proud, and unavoidable; plus the album's back story is just as big, seeing as how it was originally recorded for Epic but then released by the band in a last minute, free-to-download format, earning the group their major-label walking papers and whole bunch of legal threats. The album-as-revolutionary-object indeed, and yet the opening, "Come Up and Get Me," is a laser-focused song with a surprising subject: paranoia.
Death GripsNo Love Deep Web[Self-released; 2012]By Cole Zercoe; October 30, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetListening to No Love Deep Web is akin to being thrust into the middle of an active battlefield. There is no build up. There is no identifiable starting point. It’s a hail of gunfire in a war that’s been waging for far longer than you’ve been a witness, and when it all comes to a close, there’s an undeniable notion that nothing has been resolved--that the struggle will continue on, endlessly, forever.
Death Grips :: No Love Deep WebThird WorldsAuthor: Patrick TaylorWhat the hell was Epic Records thinking when they signed Sacramento punk/noise/rap act Death Grips? They were probably thinking, "with a little finessing, we could make this appeal to the Warped Tour/Hot Topic crowd who would have been buying Limp Bizkit records ten years ago, AND appeal to hipsters who are exploring death metal and looking for rap music that is still threatening. " They were probably thinking that given drummer/producer Zach Hill's long career in the music business, he would be a rational employee who understood the uncomfortable but necessary compromises that have to be made between artistic needs and business needs. Whatever Epic was thinking, whatever relationship they thought they had with Death Grips fell apart in a spectacular way last week.
There are a lot of places I could begin: with the giant dick on the cover art, with the photo of MC Ride tempting death on top of a building, with the possibility that this entire album might be part of a clever viral publicity stunt à la Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero. Or maybe I could start with how Death Grips’ second of two promised major label albums may constitute one of the best “fuck you, label” moments in music since Neil Young’s Everybody’s Rockin’. Or, of course, I could start with the music itself, which is definitely one of the most unsettling I’ve heard all year.
Erratic noise rap group Death Grips' No Love Deep Web is ugly, annoying and perfect for this moment in history. It's more punk rock than any current album with guitars, but it's all about unfocused, unhinged, paranoid rage instead of anything resembling a political message. Nihilism doesn't even begin to describe the mood created by the skittering electronic drums, uneasy atmospheric noises and MC Ride's manic scream-rapping.
So let’s get this straight: Death Grips dropped The Money Store mere months ago to some of the best reviews of 2012, canceled an entire tour to work on No Love Deep Web, and then, when Epic Records wouldn’t give it a release date, they self-released it so that “the label will be hearing it for the first time with you [listeners]”? Yes, that’s all correct. And to add insult to injury, they even released it under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, so you or I could sell the work for money and hip Hollywood directors could use the music in their feature films without paying a licensing fee. Unsurprisingly, Death Grips kept instigating and were recently dropped by Epic.
It’s Thursday, October 18th, and No Love Deep Web has been available for free for 18 days. The de facto mixtape from Death Grips was cut out from Epic’s womb without its knowledge, the very same major label that put out their mostly wonderful LP earlier this year The Money Store. The blitzkrieg middle-finger release fit so well with the initial listen of the album, a kiss-off to The Man, full of fear and vitriol and mania, so singular in its dizzying aggression that there’s just no way this could sit on an endcap at Target, or be filed between Death Cab for Cutie and The Decemberists at a Barnes & Nobel bin.
Hatred. This is Death Grips, what they embody. It’s taken roughy 22 months and 40 odd portions of wretchedness to frame this anomalous trio, who two years ago seemed to come out of nowhere and who still evade rationalisation. But when it comes down to it, the Death Grips experiment is all about hatred: that’s the master gene.