Release Date: Mar 31, 2015
Record label: Electro Magnetic
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Underground Rap, Left-Field Hip-Hop
In delivering a breakup note to their devoted fan base last July, Death Grips declared themselves "a conceptual art exhibition anchored by sound and vision" that is "above and beyond a 'band. '" The hand-written napkin message assured listeners that the second half of their purported final album would be delivered before the end of 2014, a declaration that was never met. Following months of activity on mysterious Twitter accounts, a surprise instrumental soundtrack, a low-quality rehearsal video, and a never-ending release date rumour mill, both N***as on the Moon and Jenny Death have at last been united as The Powers That B.
At least one trick on Death Grips’ The Powers That B is one of the oldest in the book: the double album that could fit onto one CD, a gimmick that counts Wilco and Beyoncé among past devisors. Except The Powers That B – comprising the halves Niggas on the Moon and Jenny Death – is too long for that by 37 seconds. Darn. Thinking of these troll-era Warhols in the CD format is one way to laugh back at them, though B marks their third honest-to-Satan physical release, along with the big major-label bid that was The Money Store and its deal-ruining partner, No Love Deep Web, which featured drummer Zach Hill’s dick not-quite-swollen with pride on the front.
A mere four years after their first release, everyone has Death Grips pretty much pegged. Despite continued attempts to surprise both their audience and the unsuspecting public, they’re no longer the provocative enigma they once were. In fact, they’re less mystifying now than they have been at any other point in their career. We’ve seen it all—abandoned live shows, album leaks meant to undermine their label, an erect penis on their cover art; for the most part, the puzzle’s been solved.
Perhaps Death Grips should read The Boy Who Cried Wolf. It appears that the band who cried done are not. The band who went to the trouble of writing a statement of their demise on a napkin and posting it on Facebook are not, in fact, finished. Nothing is sacred these days. If you were being cynical ….
As odd as they were angry, the entirely unique avant attack crew Death Grips brought their career to an end with this final album which, in itself, is two albums. Half esoteric and half essential, The Powers That B is comprised of Niggas on the Moon, a strange, short album where guest Björk was sampled as her vocals collided with Death Grips' own MC Ride, and Jenny Death, a more traditional Death Grips LP which sounds like where they were heading, rather than just outtakes and leftovers. The wealth of the highlights are on Jenny Death as the tight "I Break Mirrors with my Face in the United States" and "Why a Bitch Gotta Lie" rank up there with classics like "The Fever (Aye Aye)" and "I've Seen Footage," both of them filled DG's magic mix of Bad Brains and Atari Teenage Riot-styled revolution.
opinion byDERRICK ROSSIGNOL < @drossignol10 > Death Grips are not a band, although they’re often treated like one. They’ve always poised themselves as an avant-garde art project using sound as its primary medium, but they release their work using formats and methods similar to those of contemporary bands and performers, so the confusion is understood. When Death Grips say that they’re going to play a gig then no-show, that they’re retiring then continue to release material, that they’re not a band then sort of operate like one, fans get upset.