Artist of the Week: Death Grips
Death Grips is an experimental hip-hop trio from Sacramento, California, that have, since 2011, apparently done their best to swim upstream and to sabotage the so proclaimed opportunities brought by the power of the Internet: they have cancelled a highly buzzed tours with no apparent reason and have pulled a no-show on several other occasions; they got dropped by Epic Records after leaking a full-album (with a NSFW cover) and publishing privileged emails between their label and band management; they have removed their first record from iTunes, deleted their popular Twitter account and vanished from the press and social media at the peak of their popularity. Though this all may sound as an extreme take on rock star eccentricities, the fact is that their behavior share the same punk attitude of their unique blend of hip-hop, noise and electronics, making them not only one of the most innovative acts in the popular music arena, but one of the most coherent as well.
After releasing the Exmilitary mixtape in 2011, the band signed with the major owned Epic Record label and released The Money Store the following year to wide critical acclaim. Faced with the fact that their record label was unwilling to release the album until 2013, they self-released on the web their sophomore effort No Love, Deep Web in October and their third record Government Plates one year later through Third Worlds their own and recently created label. If their musical attitude can be puckishly described as making music with no past about a present with no future, Death Grips has also been deeply innovative regarding the music video format, self-producing interactive, GIF-animated and weird iconoclast videos for almost all the songs that they have recorded so far. All this seems to indicate that Death Grips are, in fact, one of the most self-aware and digitally literate acts one can find in the emerging digital media landscape.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.