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I remember being so excited for this album last year. I had become a huge Death Grips fan by that point, and rarely, if ever, went a single day without listening to one of their records; but for those of you who don't know, allow me to bring you up to speed.
Death Grips is an experimental hip hop trio from Sacramento, California. They consist of drummer Zach Hill, producer Andy Morin, aka Flatlander, and rapper/vocalist MC Ride. They first formed in 2010, releasing their first self-titled Death Grips EP. Let me tell you something about them: this is some of the wildest music of the current age. One of their first songs uses a sample of a printer making noises as their main riff, and a disco sample as the second part of their chorus.
From here on out, Death Grips would continue to utilize unorthodox sounds and push hip hop in a direction that they've described as "forward." Their 2011 album/mixtape, Exmilitary, proved to be as polarizing as it was revolutionary. Their first studio record, The Money Store, became the first album to ever receive a 10/10 score from Anthony Fantano's YouTube series "The Needle Drop," and was met with much acclaim. Their noisy, catchy instrumentals coupled with the lead vocalist screaming at the top of his lungs turned out to be surprisingly accessible.
Fast forward to 2016, and they release Bottomless Pit. I found a leak of it on SoundCloud, and immediately jumped in.
And just like how I felt about their past records, the same could be said here: I instantly loved a few tracks, but the rest was a lot to digest. So let's break it down, shall we?
WORD OF WARNING: This is not your typical hip hop record, but if you're open-minded towards avante-garde music, and are willing to step out of your comfort zone to hear something unique, then enjoy the ride.
- "Giving Bad People Good Ideas": The track opens up with pop-punk female vocals, and after a moment of silence, BAM! The noise is cranked up to 11, and these noisy guitars and drums pummel at you with no mercy whatsoever.
- "Hot Head": This could possibly be Death Grips at both their most inaccessible, and yet most accessible. After the slowly building high guitar notes and a rising synth, a barrage of noises cluster in, all playing at a rapid, rhythmless pace, with the lead singer, MC Ride, going from casually saying, to shouting, "BLO BLO BLO BLO BLO BLO OH NO! BLO BLO BLO BLO OH NO! HOT HEAD! THAT PEDAGOGUE GRAB THAT MICROPHONE! BLO BLO BLO BLO BLO BLO!"
If you're still alive by this point, the chorus(?) slows to a funky, reggae-infused crawl, and it's wonderfully catchy.
- "Spikes": Punk rock, industrial, and hip hop, all rolled into one.
- "Warping": This is the first slow point in the record, finally gearing down and delivering something that I can imagine would've played on alternative radio stations back in the early 'oughts, due to its lumbering synth and punchy but subdued drums.
- "Eh": The band, once again, proving their versatility by delivering something so tame in comparison to many of the tracks they've put out, that it's actually jarring. The high-pitched, bubbly, bouncy beat is fantastically poppy, and wouldn't feel out of place on a Katy Perry song.
- "Bubbles Buried in This Jungle": A sinister buzzing synth, a one-shot scream, and trap-flavored drums make this one of the darkest songs on this album.
- "Trash": Yet another phenomenal song, again, very accessible, only this time, its closer to something resembling a pop song on the EDM end of the spectrum.
- "Houdini": Highly resonant, loud, echoey, extremely fast paced, vulgar, relentless, and too many other words can be used to describe the sheer ferocity of "Houdini," but none of those descriptions do it that much justice. You just need to hear it to believe it.
- "BB Poison": This one is much closer to a straight-up hip hop track than anything else here. MC Ride is actually spitting bars over this very melodic, catchy beat, that quickly reverts to the drums going fast for the verses, and snaps right back to funky for the lengthy chorus.
- "Three Bedrooms in a Good Neighborhood": No words. Just listen...
- "Ring a Bell": The only thing I can bring myself to dislike is the lack of a bass to really bring out the very sweet islandy guitar during the chorus. The verse is a straight up black metal backtrack, but the chorus isn't too far from pop-punk.
- "80808": This one removes much of the deep lying that is found on the rest of the record, and is far more stripped down. It's phenomenal...
- "Bottomless Pit": And lastly, the closer, which is more than happy to end with a straight up noise rock song with the refrain "I fucked you in half."
What did I just listen to? Perhaps one of the most revolutionary, focused, intense, forward-thinking hip hop albums of my life. It's taken me about a year to fully digest it due to it's surprisingly verbose and cryptic lyrics.