For the record, I never got into Death Grips until recently. I thought “Bottomless Pit” was nothing special on first listen. It was really weird for me to digest their music at the time. Then I began to listen to it again as well as listening to “The Money Store.” All of a sudden, everything changed for me. I’ve begun to understand the chaotic production along with MC Ride’s maniacal character. I was perplexed yet fascinated by the overall sound; it was a revelation to my ears. Now, I just kick myself for not getting into them sooner.
Death Grips is one of those groups that every generation has. A group that can make music that is so abrasive and so unsettling because it provides a fresh air to a music genre. It’s in no small part thanks to MC Ride’s aggressive flows and the production of Zach Hill and Andy Morin. The group has been consistently releasing albums almost yearly. This traction has created a cult-like fanbase on the internet that can sometimes be a little hostile. There’s a Twitter account called “Death Grips fans are biased” and you can find their meme-loving, wild behavior on Reddit.
Going into this album, I was thinking it was going be a continuation of older Death Grips albums. But as you start listening to the opening track “Death Grips is Online,” you’ve noticed a difference. The production doesn’t feel as fierce as it was before. It’s feeling like less of an experimental hip-hop album and heading more towards electronica. Take the track “Dilemma,” where the opening synths remind me of an old video game from the days of the Nintendo 64, while “Little Richards” features a monotonic robotic voice instead of MC Ride’s vocals. They bring a rather odd experience that can be unprecedented to longtime listeners.
For me, this style can bring something new to the table but I feel it has lost the edge Death Grips usually has. I don’t feel like my heart is going to stop whenever I’m hearing the album. The only exception is “Shitshow” which brings back the explosion but the track feels a bit rushed. I feel like I want to go crazy as I’m listening to it, but for inexplicable reasons, I can’t do it. However, tracks like “Streaky” help bring some replay value. I love the chorus and the “Don’t throw it on the ground” on the pre-chorus. It helps bring back some of the excitement that is usual in Death Grips’ music.
With the lyrics, the song still retains the freaky lyrics albeit the “softer” instrumentation. “The Fear” covers the feelings of paranoia and death lurking around the corner, while “Black Paint” can remind one of black metal for the references to giving into darkness and satisfying the “Satanic urges.” It doesn’t feel surprising to me to be reading them but it’s still nice to see that hasn’t been sacrificed with this new direction.
Overall, it’s an interesting idea that Death Grips is going for with “Year of the Snitch” but I don’t feel entirely crazy about it. It was a bit hard for me to go back and listen to it over again. It felt inconsistent and a little unfinished. So this is definitely not going to top “The Money Store” or “Bottomless Pit” in my eyes.
Will this album become a grower for me as time goes on? I wonder because the previous albums have managed to pull it. This is an album for me to pick up again before the year ends to see if it can grow. But for now, I feel slightly underwhelmed about “Year of the Snitch.”
As for the fanbase, I’m sure they have some really strong opinions about this one by now. Looks like it’s time for a trip to Reddit.
Track Picks: “Death Grips is Online,” “Black Paint,” “Streaky,” “Dilemma,” and “Disappointed”
Label: Third Worlds and Harvest Records
Listen to “Year of the Snitch” Here: