2011 was a fascinating year for personal growth, but truly the timeframe is iconic for the burst of Death Grips and their debut record, Exmilitary. If going by year, this would have to be the most personally influential record that shattered the borders of reality and immediately captured to become what the internet was in a sound.
Confusion, anger, abysmal frustration, uncatchable and unobtainable emotion; all correct adjectives to describe the chaos that is embodied and hosted through the Sacramento outfit. The trio that essentially became a walking representation of existentialism and nihilistic ability was a catalyst for the high school student with a fascination for punk rock and hip-hop. Death Grips was able to successfully adventure into the darkest corners of the cerebral dungeon, pulling out treasure behind those bitten-down, scrapped knuckles and nails.
The opening track, “Beware” which samples Charles Manson involves a quote, describing, “What the hell I wanna go off into – and go to work for? Work for what, money? I got all the money in the world, I’m the king man. I run the underworld guy. I decide who does what and where they do it at… I make the money man, I roll the nickels, the game is mine… I deal the cards.” What follows is this animalistic beatdown of mental disarming. MC Ride who is the vocalist of Death Grips and the narrator of this cognitive journey takes the audience along instrumentals laid out by Zach Hill and Flatlander or Andy Morin who together, are foreboding and draining. But somehow on the same hand, are a freeing testament that can become dismissive of the struggle that Earth holds.
Describing through the chorus, “I close my eyes and seize it, I clench my fists and beat it. I light my torch and burn it, I am the beast I worship.” This self-worship is the disillusion of undoubtable freedom from the material and physical world. With a rapid hi-hat that is like lines in the road to follow, MC Ride is a cold delivery behind ultimately one of the most lasting impacts of any record to memory. Later tracks like “Lord Of The Game” are aggressive and bombastic, but also hold some sense of being constructed to thrive in the back alleys and dwellings of the skull. A track that could show its face in the mosh pit or in the club, though no clubs in a commercial setting, shows diversity and at least if nothing else, a will to progress sound.
Further down the pipeline, Exmilitary rears in revolution with “Known For It” that gives Death Grips a sense of catchiness to the hooks and verses. The instrumentals are still frantic and sporadic messes of synths and percussion, but for once, everything is coherent and actually is something that can be shown to a family member without receiving disconcerting stares.
Before wrapping completely, Exmilitary is 48 minutes of pure head rush. From the more well-known pieces like “Guillotine” or “Spread Eagle Cross The Block” to tracks like “5D” and “Thru The Walls” that are almost forgotten as nearly ten years have passed since their initial release. No matter the age or setting, Death Grips is an art project that must and demands to be experienced first-hand, with or without loads of schizophrenic MDMA trips through the desert.