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Jenny Death = The Perfect End To Death Grips 1.0

Death Grips have finally released Jenny Death, their ‘final album’. But does it live up to the hype? We dive deep into Jenny Death and find out.

Source: Official Artwork

In our review of The Powers That B Pt 1 : Niggas On The Moon back last June, it was stated how Death Grips are modern-day punks, consistently going against the grain with everything they do. The last nine months have been an interesting time for fans and for many it seems to have cemented the band as a punk movement. Others have seen Death Grips as bratty, and it’s easy to see why. Nine months of being promised a second side to an album is a long time. They’ve given us time to grow a full baby of anticipation.

Death grips Napkin

Source: Official Facebook

In many ways the anti-marketing campaign for this album has been complete genius. They announced that they’d broken up via a scribbled note on a napkin stating how they were disbanding due to being at the peak of their powers creatively. They then waited months before dropping the first single to their new album, ‘Inanimate Sensation’ to absolute rave reviews from their fans. The track featured the return of Zach Hill‘s pounding drums and sounded like a complete departure from the first part of the album. It remains one of the strangest songs they’ve ever done. After that, the band went completely silent.

In that time they seemed to become known as a living meme more than a band, with the phrase JENNY DEATH WHEN being thrown around more and more. It was to every fan’s delight/dismay that when Death Grips decided to drop an instrumental album out of the blue (instead of the album promised); the track list spelling out the words JENNYDEATHWHEN. They were toying with us more and more. Add to the fact that their ‘twitter account’ also announced multiple release dates that never happened and you’ve got a whole lot of anticipation in the memedom.

It’s almost got to the point where it’s strange to think that Jenny Death is made as a companion album for Niggas On The Moon. It’s been so long they feel like completely separate entities. In many ways this album is the complete polar opposite to Niggas On The Moon. The obsessive usage of sampling that characterised the last album is completely absent. There are no Bjork samples being used as instrumentals and every single drum pound is designed to smack you in the face. Not only that, but Death Grips have decided to use guitars in their music – and not like the sampled guitars from their mixtape Exmilitary – but heavy, live recorded guitars.

‘Why A Bitch Gotta Lie’ has heavy pounding guitars that sound like they’re taken straight from a punk track. These riffs are mixed with the industrial sounds that they’ve been pulling from since day one and MC Ride‘s vocals sound like they have been fed through a computer to the point where the lyrics are indistinguishable. Flatlander did one hell of a job with the production on here, it’s got some of the most interesting sounds coming from a guitar in a long time. Every single riff has been manipulated on this album to sound as twisted or as distorted as possible.

While on the surface many people may hear MC Ride’s primal screams as just yelling, he once again proves he has the ability to mould his voice to whatever instrumental is provided. Be that the quick and repetitive nature of the opening track ‘I Break Mirrors With My Face, In The United States’, to the way that he has to slow his delivery right down to the point where his flow is completely unpredictable on tracks like ‘Powers That B’ and ‘Beyond Alive’.

The lines as to whether this group are actually a hip-hop group or not have completely blurred on this album, more than ever before. It can be argued that outside of the track ‘Pss Pss’ – which features some of the more melodic synths and vocal deliveries on this album  – that this isn’t really a hip-hop album in the slightest, but more an extremely experimental rock/electronic album; especially as there’s no way anyone should ever put the label ‘rap-rock’ onto a Death Grips album with a clear conscience.

Lyrically, this album is fantastic; although you may need to look them up to fully understand. Where most of their albums seem to be a character portrait of a person looking out at the world and taking everything out on other people; this album seems to be of someone seriously depressed from looking out at the world so he takes it all out on himself. Inanimate Sensation was a precursor for the way that many of the songs on this album look at the world. MC Ride talks of how these days people prefer to simply experience everything online, rather than actually interacting with other people with fantastic lines like ‘I like my Ipod more than fucking‘. Whereas the penultimate track ‘On GP’ is perhaps one of the most depressing songs the band have ever written, with Ride contemplating suicide throughout the entire track but concluding by the end that family and friends are the only reason he couldn’t do it. It’s one of the most sincere tracks Death Grips have ever made especially with the instrumentation almost sounding…beautiful?

The journey to the point of contemplating suicide has been one that’s slowly built over time when you look back at the band’s discography. Looking back at albums like No Love Deep Web and The Money Store, MC Ride is portrayed as a phsycopath taking it out on others around him. Examples include songs like ‘No Love’ where he’s torturing someone while ‘checking his phone‘, and the song ‘The Fever (Aye Aye)’ where he plays a drug abusing, street worn, murderer. This angst transfers onto the first part of The Powers That BeNiggas On The Moon, where he’s clinging on to the last bit of sanity he has left with pure frustration and snarkiness. On ‘Centuries Of Damn’ he talks of how he’s become such a social recluse that he thinks ‘Daylight sucks’ and is a waste of his time. He also proclaims how he very rarely has moments of clarity in his life, even in between his frequent drug use, everything is a blur to him. The world around him is too confusing to have clarity, it’s filled with boundaries and moral codes that he wants to smash down. Jenny Death is the gradual descent from this – a descent into self-deprecation to the point where he’s trying to kill himself with cigarettes while washing himself clean in the shower on the track ‘Turned Off’.

If this album is truly to be Death Grips’ final album, it’s one that is most suiting. These guys weren’t lying when they said they’re at their peak creatively and The Powers That B is their most well-rounded project to date. Sonically, both sides of The Powers That B are polar opposites, but this helps when it comes to the narrative in that they complement each other so brilliantly. Ending the album with the instrumental ‘Death Grips 2.0′, could this signal the end of one Death Grips chapter and the possible beginnings of a new one? It sounds like the first story arc of Death Grips’ career has come to a close.

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