In 2012, I was an avid member of Reddit’s r/hiphopheads and would spend hours looking for the next experimental voice in rap. During this era, I recall clicking on links brandishing “Death Grips” like a warning sign. I would make it about 30 seconds into anything that they produced and then would feel too uncomfortable to carry on- it is not an easy sound to consume. I shamefully wrote off the band for the most part nearly a decade ago and thus my knowledge of the scope of their work is still limited. I must note that if you came here looking for some background on the band or a reason to love them (or if you’re even curious in the slightest) then I recommend you take 8 minutes to watch THIS VIDEO that gives fascinating insight into their sound and cultural significance. Additionally, I’ve strayed from using one photographer’s work to fuel this week’s collum in sourcing pictures from various Death Grips’ performances.
Last night, Death Grips got brought up in a conversation about artists not showing up to their scheduled set for a political motive and I recalled a headline from 2013 when they did not show up to an official Lollapalooza afterparty and the fans proceeded to climb on stage and destroy all their equipment. I did not recall what it was that motivated them to skip out on the event until doing a bit of research today. My discovery shook me a bit- in place of the band was a large screen with a projection of a fan’s suicide note. I’ve decided to include the entire note as it felt wrong to censor something of this nature- if you’re not up for it then read the line in bold and proceed.
I am ready to take my own life. Many bad experiences led me to this dark void that I am locked in. Maybe by my own hands? I don’t really care anymore. I just wanted to say thank you for showing me the other side. the side that is locked away deep inside a person. I am mad. Mad all the time and depressed all the time. I can’t take it. I’m not afraid of dying but i am afraid that I can’t hear DG in the after life if there is such a thing. I don’t know, but I hope your music transcends to the unknown. A place where DG’s essence exists. A place where art exists. I love art. That’s the one thing that kept me alive? this long. So just to ease minds, DG didn’t “influence” me to do this. this is my own fucking choice. but thanks for making my life a little better. you’re my absolute fave and I will fight the gods if they don’t allow me to follow DG’s efforts can’t see Earth. Anyways, continue doing great things. I love you Stefan, Zach, and Andy.
I will be watching.
The line highlighted in bold packs a punch- it is honestly a beautiful thought despite the morbid context. I’ve written tirelessly about finding something you love because that, to me, is what makes life worth living. Imagine being that thing for someone you’ve never met and then they still call it quits- assuring you that there’s nothing more that you could have done and still you will be all that they miss. How would you feel? Good? Bad? Fucked?
I love music- I really do- but it is funny to vocalize that at this point. I make myself say it aloud every so often to remember why I got into the business to begin with. In 2019, my taste has shifted from experimental hip hop to experimental electronic music and those artists who I consider my ABSOLUTE favorites are the ones that are breaking some sort of mold or taking on an absurdist approach to the scene. Nina Kraviz and SOPHIE both played at Coachella last year- Nina (WATCH HERE) walked the furniture covered stage like she was the star of a French film and played only 1 or 2 songs that were danceable and SOPHIE (WATCH HERE) stood on a throne of black goo and lasers with an aesthetic that felt like a cross between Stranger Things’ “Upside Down” and “The Throne” in Game of Thrones while playing instrumental tracks that ironically are reminiscent of Death Grips’ production. During these sets- the two I was most excited for that weekend- I watched the stages fill, then begin to empty, and then eventually I stood there with what felt like only a handful of people as they closed out. There is more to music than the music itself and if you really love music then I think this is a known fact- someone who really loves sports or food would argue the same.
Photo by Nici Eberl
I’ve decided to give Death Grips a proper shot- I feel that it is something that I simply must do and so I’ve started watching a shocking number of their music videos and am currently going through their discography album by album. Death Grips kept AJJ alive when he no longer willed it and then paid tribute to him when he presumably passed- perhaps on the off chance that he was in fact watching. More artists need to have this effect on people, more art needs to have this effect on people, and more people need to let art have this effect on them- or at the very least try to. And so, I vow to practice what I preach and I leave you with my current favorite’s from Death Grips, Nina Kraviz and SOPHIE so you can do the same-
E-mail the author with your thoughts at [email protected] /All uncredited photos pulled from Death Grips’ press releases.