Death Grips don’t give a fuck. That much is plain to see, they didn’t give a fuck on ‘Exmilitary’, they didn’t give a fuck when they signed to EPIC Records in February of 2012, and they most certainly don’t give a fuck on ‘The Money Store’, the Sacramento based experimental hip-hop trio’s second project in as many years.
It is clear to see the progression and evolution of the group’s sound both cohesively and individually on this project; MC Ride’s vocal delivery is as derogatory, aggressive and as self deprecating as ever, Zach Hill and Andy Morin’s producing continues to implode eardrums with abstract synth progression layered over heavy over modulated bass and complex drum sequences, but the group haven’t stagnated, they exhibited their sound on ‘Exmilitary’ and evolved it into a much fluid smoother sounding project as a whole. The braggadocious punk and rock samples have been taken and malformed into jagged electronica samples, Zach Hill’s drumming is now layered over Roland TR 808 style drum machines, and Rides lyrics encapsulate an entirely more maniacal character overall.
The first track on ‘The Money Store’, ‘Get Got’, exemplifies the evolution as a group when compared to the opening track on ‘Exmilitary’. ‘Beware‘ opens with a excerpt from an interview with Antichrist of American counterculture, Charles Manson, setting the general feeling of discontent and unease encapsulated by the eccentric punk rock samples that prevail throughout ‘Exmilitary’. ‘Get Got’, conversely redefines this style by emphasising a wider use of electronic drum beats and samples. In a fragmented getaway from the police, Ride delves into foray of topics, including chaos, violence, drug abuse, anger, mental illness, and crime. A through line of dissociative identity disorder that permeates the track, highlighting existential uncertainty, all the while sampling the disjointed and chaotic electonica hook from Papito and Iba One’s 2011 track, ‘Yereyira‘ in the process, this thereby signalled that the album was going to be a step in a completely new direction. This is reaffirmed on tracks like ‘The Fever’, a dark schizophrenic internal narration on Ride’s spiralling issues with addiction and fame, layered over a siren-like synth that is once again is amplified tenfold come time for Ride to deliver the infectious hook, this theme is mirrored throughout ‘The Money Store’; whether it be the oriental ascension and eventual bass line collapse of ‘Punk Weight’ or the intrinsic bastardisation of Salt N Pepa’s ‘Push It’ on ‘I’ve Seen Footage’, Death Grips seem to find a perpetual way of distorting and deforming to their benefit in every aspect of their music; even going so far as to use a sample of a Tennis match between Venus and Serena Williams on ‘System Blower’, albeit distorted to the point where it is utterly unrecognisable.
Ride’s flow on the majority of the tracks remains a constant since the last album; jittery, stream of consciousness rhymes, underlined with cryptic commentaries on the world around him, most notably shown on ‘I’ve Seen Footage’ where he recounts the ills that have lead him to become the psychopathic, drug fuelled volatile character that he portrays, similarly ‘Hustle Bones’ (arguably the standout track from the album) accentuates this by showcasing the prevalence of death and drugs in his lyrics, whilst tackling larger issues such as dichotomy and duality, both of which are integral themes to this album, hence the hedonistic artwork depicting the stark contrast between submission and domination. Ride is inherently unlikable on this album; much like he is on every other album, a chaotic time bomb hurling derogatory insults at anyone who happens to avert his gaze, but much like the proverbial time bomb, we can’t help but to watch when it goes off.
‘The Money Store’ as dark, gritty and as uninviting as it may first seem, is potentially one of the most gratuitous Death Grips projects, which is what makes it so prevalent, acting as an entry point for the majority of their fan base. Death Grips will never sound the same from one album to the next, they will constantly try to evolve their sound as much as they can, such is the nature of both industry and artistry, however sonically speaking ‘The Money Store’ is as close to perfection as Death Grips have come as of yet; pure, unbridled, excessive artistry, from start to finish.