“The man who is striving to solve a problem defined by existing knowledge and technique is not just looking around. He knows what he wants to achieve, and he designs his instruments and directs his thoughts accordingly.”
In his somewhat controversial 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolution, Kuhn re-defined the evolution of science, much to the chagrin of several contemporaries, as “a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions”. These revolutions, he claimed, became “the tradition-shattering complements to the tradition-bound activity of normal science.” In effect, as a result of these revolutions, “one conceptual world view is replaced by another.” This was the basis for a phrase he coined, called “Paradigm Shift”.
We are currently witnessing a massive Paradigm Shift in the music game, and it’s heavily focused in the multitude of name-rearranging genres that have sprung forth from what used to be called “that darn Rap Music”.
In a world, and what’s more, in an industry that’s now made almost entirely of self promotion, it’s kind of refreshing to see an honest punk movement in hip hop finally get a boot through the mainstream’s fucking door.
Kimya Dawson’s making albums and touring with Aesop Rock. Some skater kids from Fairfax dropped a couple videos and went apeshit on Jimmy Fallon and are now playing all over the world.
And then this little thing called Death Grips just happened to come along.
A while back, I saw a little late night tweet from Nasa about something called Death Grips being his favorite shit not on his label. A couple days later, I caught a link to ‘Guillotine’.
Honestly, when I caught the link, and the video popped up, I thought of that “Why Must I Cry” video Ottie always made me watch when I was hungover. Never judge a book by it’s cover my friend, even in the video age. ESPECIALLY in the video age. Things are not what they seem. We are at war.
FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT HAVEN’T SEEN IT:
If Odd Future’s overtly simplistic, thumping shock and awe tactics are being touted by the near-dead industrial goons as the new golden scions of an already underway movement, then Death Grips are the dust fiends catching tags in the alley, waiting for the show to let out so they can snatch some breezies or chains for sport, whichever comes first.
If Yonkers is “The Truth”, as is all the rage of phrasing with the kids these days, Guillotine is Martin Luther’s Theses nailed to the church door, refusing to accept anything but their own conscience.
Death Grips are the teeth first seen by flesh from the unseen dangers swimming silent in the unknown depths below. It’s already too late. The dagger is sunk.
Describing their own sound as “Raw. Raw like wet pennies. Post-Christian, Post-Satan”, the project known as Death Grips formally got under way on December 21st, 2010.
“Accidentally, possibly intuitively” says the anonymous respondent to our interview questions, “we recorded Full Moon (Death Classic) on the night of Winter Solstice in December that coincided with a full moon.” It was the first time since 1638 that the Solstice and a lunar eclipse had occurred simultaneously.
They’ve been moving in planned synchronicity with lunar cycles since, recording the video for it on Super Bowl Sunday (three days after a new moon) and releasing it on the eve of the Perigee or “Super” Moon in March.
Moving in mysterious ways seems to be the norm for these Sacramento-based cats, who seemingly came out of nowhere with a full frontal audio and video assault on the industry at large. Proudly DIY, they are currently in talks to get Exmilitary, the first release from the crew, put out on vinyl as quickly as possible. The seminal release dropped this winter to almost unilaterally rave reviews from across the music journalism spectrum. That in itself isn’t really anything in this day and age, but they’ve remained somewhat elusive, with no particular interest in really separating their collectivized notion as Death Grips, nor in becoming the next Twitter phenomenon.
When asked about the internet chatter of this being something from the dude that drums for Hella, they did want to clear one thing up:
“This is NOT a Zach Hill ‘side project’.”
“Zach was neighbors with Ride (the main MC )and they both love black metal and shit so they started trading tapes and hanging out.” the respondent answered. Apparently, Zach came on board last December in a collaborative role as a kind of drummer/co-producer/beatmaker kind of thing.
“We fuck with him cuz he makes shit slap and has ideas,” says the anonymous respondent, “Members of Death Grips aren’t concerned with people knowing them by name. The only name that matters is Death Grips and the music itself. Everyone is in our group.”
A keen understanding of life’s brutality is the key to their idealogical art movement. When asked about anything specific influencing their latest work, they simply responded “Poverty and Bass.”
They cite “human nature, deceit, sex and death” as some of their earliest inspirations. They’ve also taken cues from musicians like Nyogthaeblisz and Lil’ B The Basedgod, and artists like Sasha Grey and Chris Burden, who once described his work as the “acting out of an idea, the materialization of the idea”.
In particular, they are quite fond of Burden’s 1985 installation, “Samson”. The artist describes it as simply “a museum installation consisting of a 100 ton jack connected to a gear box and a turnstile. The 100-ton jack pushes two large timbers against the bearing walls of the museum. Each visitor to the exhibition must pass through the turnstile in order to see the exhibition. Each input on the turnstile ever so slightly expands the jack, and ultimately, if enough people visit the exhibition, Samson could theoretically destroy the building. Like a glacier its powerful movement is imperceptible to the naked eye. This sculptural installation subverts the notion of the sanctity of the museum (the shed that houses art).”
In their video for ‘Culture Shock’, a lone tombstone stands with a video screen seemingly embedded in it, playing a fuzzy, gyrating, pulsing image. Upon closer inspection, it’s a close up of two people having sex, focused on the penetration. It seems as though a low budget remake of Bjork’s Pagan Poetry video, but equally as effective through the sheer power of the music.
“That’s a conceptual memorial to sexual conservatism or cultural conservatism in general,” was the reply, “We believe in embracing self-expression in all forms and a collective conscious overriding the denial of actual human nature and fear based society.”
On a Greyhound layover in Fresno once, I sat in the pedestrian mall in downtown on a spring afternoon and watched a hobo clean and trim his nails while a plainly dressed youth minister repeatedly and passionately shouted selected bible passages about “Worldly Ways” to the noon hour passers-by making their way to or from lunch meetings. I see the same conviction in Ride’s presentation of his lyrics in the handful of videos that Flatlander has directed for the group.
And in listening to the album, the intensity should not be mistaken for simply anger. It’s non-chalant. It’s HELLA versatile. It can do you better than you can, but it’s a damning of self before others. It’s fire and brimstone without the necessity of God. It’s a dirty bum cleaning his cuticles before going to the mission for a meal. They may be high on drugs, throwing CD’s out of Camry windows on their way to The Klink, not really giving two flying fucks what you think. Make no bones about it though, these cats are on a mission.
It goes it goes it goes it goes it goes it goes it goes it goes
Live from the Internet, sipping the dregs of a $49.00 handle of Black Velvet in a cup stolen from an industrial mess hall, at the mouth of the Naknek River in Alaska.
(Often confused with ‘Balling Out Of Control’)
Yr Pal, Goonie.