By Lorenzo Cook
How edgy did you feel when you first heard “Bastard” by Tyler The Creator? Did writing “OFWGKTA” on your school binders and drawing upside down crosses make you feel like you were part of a new counterculture of horrorcore rap? I think it’s safe to say Odd Future had that effect on a lot of its fans.
Consequently, I think it’s fair to say you’ve never listened to Death Grips (editor’s note: website contains explicit images).
For those of you who have never heard of or listened to Death Grips, the only suitable way to describe them is to imagine the music the indigenous cannibal Korowai tribe would create if they got their hands on a MIDI controller and drum pad. The eerie electronic beats flow in dark synchronization with the harsh repetitive vocals of lead vocalist Stefan Burnett (MC Ride). Themes of schizophrenia, paranoia and fear in the lyrics seem redundant as the music itself evokes this subject matter.
Death Grips is the R-rated version of Odd Future. Horror hop at its scariest.
Shortly after signing to Epic Records in early 2012, the members announced they would be releasing two records in the same year. After their debut album The Money Store dropped with an almost unexpected success, they began to prepare for the release of their second album, NO LOVE DEEP WEB. After a few months of strange marketing for the LP through internet scavenger hunts increasing the already present anticipation for the record, Death Grips tweeted the following:
‘’The label wouldn’t confirm a release date for NO LOVE DEEP WEB ’til next year sometime.'” The label will be hearing the album for the first time with you.’’
In what some would call the an act of absolute punk rebellion or a genius marketing scheme, Death Grips released their second album of 2012, NO LOVE DEEP WEB, in a style that would make any pirate giddy. On Oct. 1, at midnight PST, in what appears to be in absolute defiance of their record label, Death Grips dropped their sophomore album on file-sharing websites and SoundCloud completely free of charge.
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/2553694″ height=”200″ iframe=”true” /]
If the shock caused by the sudden release wasn’t enough, the album artwork consisted of a photograph of a penis with ‘’NO LOVE DEEP WEB” hurriedly along its length — a visual that Epic Records surely never would have agreed to.
In what appears to be a half-hearted attempt to stop the rambunctious hip-hop trio, somebody — the band thinks Epic Records — temporarily shut down the group’s website. This feeble attempt at putting out the flames went by the wayside as the Death Grips twitter account and FaceBook page continued to post and promote the questionably legal distribution of their album.
The unprecedented release, although controversial, was a huge advantage for the band. As a result of their defiance, the press ate up the story. Everyone wanted to write about Death Grips, NO LOVE DEEP WEB and the group’s bold move. Its popularity bloomed; people love a controversial story just as much as they enjoy the music. Not only do we love a controversy, but we also love freebies. According to Billboard.biz, Death Grips is the most-downloaded artist on on BitTorrent for 2012 with over 34 million downloads, and this doesn’t even take into account the downloads the band has garnered from all the other file sharing services.