Notorious for their innovative hybrid of industrial, hip hop and noise, Californian trio Death Grips are now “online” with ‘Year of the Snitch’. Comprised of frontman MC Ride, drummer Zach Hill and producer Andy Morin, the group have ravished their way to the top of the experimental rap food chain, via numerous groundbreaking works, such as ‘The Money Store’ and ‘No Love Deep Web’, and have continued to update the lethality of their sound with each release, including 2016’s catchier project, ‘Bottomless Pit’.
Death Grips have repeatedly gone from producing song-driven albums, like the aforementioned ‘Bottomless Pit’, to dropping noisier, experimental soundscapes, like 2017’s ‘Steroids’ EP. If you want a percentage drummed up for how the band have decided to carry themselves on ‘Year of the Snitch’, the answer would be an approximate 70% in favour of “noisier, experimental soundscapes”.
To the casual ear, ‘Snitch’ may not seem inherently different to Death Grips’ previous work, but those who have draped themselves in the absurdist qualities of their music will see straight away how this project is crazy, even by their standards. Despite the hardcore hyperbole favouring noisy experimentation, you certainly will be able to pick a few memorable cuts out of the tracklist.
‘Death Grips is Online’ embodies both sides of what Ride and friends tend to shoot for. It’s an understandable track, barring Ride’s usual hectic vocals, and it sets the scene for the trio’s newfound emphasis on industrial dance-type music, also seen on the likes of ‘Black Paint’ and ‘Hahaha’, which are both huge highlights.
Still, some tracks are chaotic for the sake of it, see ‘Shitshow’ and ‘The Horn Section’, both short, but brutal. While regularly electronic, some of the best musical moments on ‘Snitch’ are the guitar-heavy tracks, with one of the most mind-blowing moments being the sudden distortion on ‘Shitshow’. That being said, the most original moment in the album’s production has to be ‘Hahaha’, which samples multiple previous Death Grips songs.
Dig too deep into some of the song meanings here and you’ll be keeping yourself up at night. ‘Dilemma’, as powerful as it is, seems to mainly exist to fulfil those who love trying to force method out of madness, with arbitrary lyrics like its opening line of “butterfly, ballistic, seax, survival”, which I’m fairly sure are just names of knives. ‘Little Richard’ is just as surreal, but in a comedic way, namedropping the song’s rock n roll namesake, and Maria Sharapova of all people.
The most interesting subject matter belongs to ‘Flies’, which nastily sees MC Ride detail how he’d like to be consumed by flies, to become their vomit…
Closing track ‘Disappointed’ is a reminder that the most captivating aspect of Death Grips is mostly always MC Ride’s voice, lethally yelping over and over as the instrumental speeds up, powerfully placing itself atop the buzzing instrumentation, and Zach Hill’s rampant drumming.
It’s doubtful ‘Year of the Snitch’ will go down as one of Death Grips’ legacy-defining albums, but for its nuanced alterations regarding the group’s sound, style and experimental acumen, it deserves all the praise in the world.
‘Year of the Snitch’ is out now via Third Worlds and Harvest