death grips – exmilitary (2011)

Having an opinion on something when that particular something is in the thick of a sensation is difficult, especially when trying not to involve the cultural impact surrounding said phenomenon. The phenomenon here is Death Grips. Comprising of members MC Ride, secondary vocalist & lyricist Mexican Girl, coproducer Info Warrior, drummer Zach Hill, & founding member & producer Flatlander laid down Exmilitary in 2011. Instilled with an indignant ethos, there’s an undeniable ferocity and sense of overwhelming urgency that Exmilitary forces into your comfort zone – the unrelenting, pseudo-RZA raps, vigorous rhythm’s both processed and organic, blunt baselines & low-fi, over-cooked melody samples.

Tracks like Guillotine, Lord of the Game, Takyon (Death Yon) & Blood Creepin all have a natural rawness to them and given an amplified intensity because of their razor blade simplicity and catchy hooks, while on the other hand Beware, Spread Eagle Cross the Block, Known For It & I Want it Need it (Death Heated) rely only on Ride’s commanding vocal delivery to piece their timely, happily energetic inclusion into the album sequence, almost alleviating the pent up angst of the harder tracks – almost … probably not.

Already compared to other melting pot musicians Sleigh Bells, MIA, and the OFWGKTA collective, where Death Grips stand alone is with their severity on all fronts i.e. lyrics, content, & music, and their ability to be diligent with this attitude in mind, standing behind their DIY aesthetic. Death Grips deserve all the attention they’ve got and aside from Ride’s overpowering delivery becoming annoying at times, Exmilitary is a prime example of the seismic shift happening in contemporary hip-hop & adapting to a digital age of well-constructed artist promotion minus the gimmicks.