Death Grips

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Death Grips
Death Grips Performing in NYC.jpg
Death Grips performing in New York City in 2012.
Background information
Origin Sacramento, California, United States
Genres Experimental hip hop
Years active 2010–2014
Labels Third Worlds, Harvest, Epic, Warp
Members Stefan Burnett
Zach Hill
Andy Morin

Death Grips is an experimental hip hop group from Sacramento, California, formed in 2010. The group consists of rapper Stefan Burnett (known by his stage name, MC Ride), drummer Zach Hill, and producer Andy "Flatlander" Morin.[1]

The band's music has been described as combining noise music, hip hop and industrial music.[2] They released the mixtape Exmilitary in April 2011, followed by two studio albums in 2012, The Money Store in April, and No Love Deep Web in October, as well as a third album in November 2013, titled Government Plates. Their releases have received positive reviews from music critics all around, including The Money Store placing 9th in Pitchfork's Best Albums of 2012 [3][4] and Government Plates placing at 43 on Spin's 50 Best Albums of 2013 list.[5] The group is also known for MC Ride's bleak, dark and highly cryptic lyrics, aggressive rapping style and wild physical stage performances, in which he usually appears topless, and drummer Zach Hill's noisy, fast and unconventional drumming styles and patterns. The group announced their disbanding on July 2, 2014, but have released material since, causing fans to question whether the group have actually ended activity.[6]


2010–2011: Formation and Exmilitary[edit]

Death Grips was formed in Sacramento, California on December 21, 2010, by Zach Hill and Stefan Burnett.[2]

On the first day of their formation they recorded their first song, "Full Moon (Death Classic)".[7] It was released on March 8, 2011 together with a video and a free self-titled EP which featured "Full Moon" together with five other songs.[8][9] On April 26, 2011, Death Grips released a free mixtape entitled Exmilitary, containing several tracks from the EP along with new cuts.[10][11]

Throughout the spring and early summer in 2011, Death Grips played small live shows while Exmilitary was spreading steadily throughout the Internet. It received several favorable ratings from music critics, with calling it "an intense, dark listen".[12][13][14][15] During this time the band members were largely elusive, the only known member being Hill.[7]

2012: The Money Store and No Love Deep Web[edit]

Stefan Burnett (left) and Zach Hill (right) performing live in August 2011.

On February 27, 2012, Death Grips signed with Epic Records, under the recommendation of Epic's then-executive vice president of marketing Angelica Cob-Baehler,[2] and announced the release of two albums in 2012. The first album, The Money Store, was released on April 21, 2012 while the songs "Blackjack", "Get Got" and "The Fever (Aye Aye)" have been released as singles. Music videos have been released for all three, as well as the track "Lost Boys" alone with no video accompaniment.[16][17][18]

In May the band scheduled a thirty-show international tour to support The Money Store, but shortly afterward cancelled it so they could complete their second album of 2012, which angered many fans and their label.[2] They spent the next four months recording their next album, No Love Deep Web, in Sacramento.[2] During this period the band also remixed two Björk songs, "Sacrifice" and "Thunderbolt", as part of the Biophilia Remix Series[19] after receiving an artist-to-artist note of support[2] and released two songs; "@deathgripz", an unreleased track from The Money Store named after their Twitter account as part of the Adult Swim Singles Program 2012 was released on September 10,[20] and on September 29 the track "True Vulture Bare" was leaked and made known on YouTube.[21] A video for this track was released on October 17 featuring animation from Galen Pehrson. This project was created for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.[22]

On October 1, the band self-released their sophomore effort via a website which they linked to from Twitter and Soundcloud, and various filesharing services including BitTorrent.[23][24] This was apparently an effort to bypass the fact that their record label was unwilling to release the album until 2013.[25] The band was dropped by Epic Records on November 1 due to the issues surrounding this incident, including the release of private emails on Facebook.[26]

2013–2014: Government Plates, Niggas on the Moon, and disbandment[edit]

In March 2013, the band released a series of videos to their YouTube account, called "No Hands". On March 20, 2013, a music video for "Lock Your Doors", which was recorded on a live show in SXSW was released.[27] Zach Hill did not attend the show physically, but played the drums via Skype.[28]

On May 10, 2013, it was announced that Hill is currently writing and directing an original feature film. Death Grips will be involved with the soundtrack of the film. The announcement also revealed that Hill is currently working on a new Death Grips album.[29] On July 8, it was announced that Death Grips had launched their new label, Third Worlds. The label was created via "a unique relationship with Harvest/Capitol" and will be distributed by Caroline Records.[30]

Death Grips were scheduled to perform at Lollapalooza in Chicago on August 3, 2013, but their performance was cancelled after the band failed to show up for an "after party" show the previous night at the Bottom Lounge. Fans at the Bottom Lounge show destroyed the band's equipment after being informed of the cancellation.[31][32][33][34] Their subsequent performance scheduled for Montreal's Osheaga Music and Arts Festival on Sunday, August 4, 2013 was also cancelled.[35] It was later discovered that Death Grips never actually planned to appear at Lollapalooza, and the drum kit that was destroyed was a child's learning kit. [36]

On November 13, 2013, Death Grips released Government Plates on their website and shared the link on their Facebook page, as well as music videos for each of the eleven new songs.[37][38] Included in the album was the song "Birds", which had been released earlier in the year. The band's press has said that Government Plates is not an official record, but is only "where they are right now".[39] On November 19, 2013, No Love Deep Web was released on vinyl and CD through Harvest Records,[40] as well as being made available on Spotify.[41] On January 14, 2014, Government Plates was officially released through iTunes and Spotify.[42] On January 16, 2014, it was announced that Warp Music Publishing signed an exclusive worldwide publishing agreement with the group. This agreement covers the previous and future releases by Death Grips.

On January 19, 2014, Zach Hill stated that the band has started recording new material for the next album and is planning to tour in summer.[43] On March 15, 2014, it was confirmed that Death Grips would be touring in support of Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden throughout their 2014 Summer tour.

On June 8, 2014, Death Grips announced a double album titled The Powers That B, along with a download of disc 1, Niggas on the Moon. The second disc was announced to be titled Jenny Death, with a full release via Harvest Records/Third Worlds scheduled for later in 2014.[44]

On July 2, 2014, Death Grips officially announced their disbandment via Facebook, stating: “We are now at our best and so Death Grips is over. We have officially stopped. All currently scheduled live dates are canceled. Our upcoming double album The Powers That B will still be delivered worldwide later this year via Harvest/Third Worlds Records. Death Grips was and always has been a conceptual art exhibition anchored by sound and vision. Above and beyond a “band”. To our truest fans, please stay legend.”[45]

2014-2015: Post-disbandment, Fashion Week, and The Powers That B[edit]

On October 10, 2014, Death Grips announced the completion of The Powers That B via their website and Facebook page, as well as revealing the album artwork.[46] A song from Jenny Death (part two of The Powers That B), entitled "Inanimate Sensation", was released on December 9, 2014.[47]

In 2014, a Twitter account surfaced, allegedly belonging to the group, through which the band appeared to deny that they had ever split and claimed they were going on tour. While the legitimacy of the account has been debated, proponents of the claim argue that a screenshot of the "Inanimate Sensation" video was posted as early as August 2014, as evidence of its validity.

On January 4th, 2015, without any prior notification, Death Grips released a free instrumental soundtrack, entitled Fashion Week. The song titles, follow as: "Runway J", "Runway E" and so on; acrostically spelling out the phrase "JENNY DEATH WHEN", in reference to the upcoming second disc of The Powers That B. The phrase originated and became popular from 4chan's music board and music reviewer Anthony Fantano as a flippant inquiry regarding the release of the disc.




  1. ^ "Suspicious Minds - The Resolute Mission Of Death Grips". Clash Magazine. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
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  4. ^ "Death Grips' Scores". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-11-30. 
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  13. ^ Fantano, Anthony (2011-05-05). "Death Grips - Exmilitary Review". The Needle Drop. Retrieved 2012-11-30. 
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  15. ^ Calvert, John (2011-04-26). "Death Grips - Exmilitary Review". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 2012-11-30. 
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  17. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (February 7, 2012). "Death Grips - "Blackjack"". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  18. ^ Coplan, Chris (March 7, 2012). "Video: Death Grips – "Get Got"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
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  22. ^ Darville, Jordan (2012-10-17). "Death Grips and Galen Pehrson collaborate for insane "True Vulture" video". Chart Attack. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
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  28. ^ Marthins, Chris (March 20, 2013). "See Death Grips' Disorienting Head-Cam and Skype-Shot 'Lock Your Doors'". Spin. Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  29. ^ Pelly, Jenn (May 10, 2013). "Death Grips to Soundtrack Feature Film Directed and Written by Zach Hill, Working on New Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  30. ^ Pelly, Jenn (July 8, 2013). "Death Grips Launch New Label Third Worlds". Pitchfork. Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
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