Death Grips – The Money Store (Music Review)

The Money Store cover

Death Grips – The Money Store

Glitch-rap band Death Grips provides a heady, challenging experience. Frantic beats and musical loops mix with aggressive vocals that are repeated, aborted, and stuttered in a way that would just barely be singable without sampling. It’s a daring, but very successful marriage of modern musical styles: The technical, abstract atmosphere of electronics meet the fervent personal declarations of rap. This mixed lineage makes The Money Store an incredible album.

Stefan Burnett’s rapid-fire lyrics can be difficult to follow even if you’re reading them. The album opens with the staccato chant “Get get get get got got got got blood rush to my head lit hot lock poppin off the fuckin block knot clockin wrist slit watch bent through bot.” Though the song’s theme (a car accident) eventually becomes clear, it’s more because of the vocabulary than from coherent sentences. What personality comes through is dark and violent, with the language of street life exaggerated into songs about killing everyone. It’s distasteful, but works because the entire package is so gonzo that over-the-top rants feel entirely appropriate. Even when reveling in the worst of human nature and using studio tricks that usually feel impersonal to me, the result feels intense, exhilarating, and in a strange way to be a futuristic declaration of human potential.

For all its psychopathic raving, there is also a wicked streak of humor and intelligence here. Modern slang mixes with mythological references, and mentions of basilisks and Warhol sound just as natural as scatology. “Hacker” is a thrilling example of the band’s abilities: Complex layers of music and electro-tribal beats create an energy that feels too trapped to dissipate, while Burnett throws off clever stream-of-consciousness one-liners (“Make your water break in the Apple Store… My existence is a momentary lapse of reason… Now backstroke through your k-hole…”). It’s an amazing technical feat that treats the foundations of rap as something to run through a studio computer, and I don’t know of any other songs like it.

With its aggressive nihilism leavened only by post-modern meaninglessness, The Money Store is too dark to listen to for long. But it’s also difficult to stop listening to. Bold, intelligent, and intense, it’s exactly the sort of thing I hope to find when I search through new music. I don’t know that it would survive familiarity or imitations, but I’m glad to have it.

Grade: B+

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