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We don’t end up covering that much rap or hip-hop here at the Hassle, and it’s not that we aren’t into the genres. Maybe we’re just not receiving from the right channels, I dunno. Maybe it’s just the nature of our small staff? Maybe the nature of the music just makes it more difficult for something to move us? Anyone can pick up a guitar and make it happen, right? Well that is obviously untrue, but when you compare it to the number of people who can command a drum machine/sequencer/sampler, not to mention those who can rhythmically control and unleash their own vocal flow in a satisfying and intriguing fashion you begin to perhaps see what I’m getting at. Hey we also don’t cover enough metal in these parts either…paging out there metal and hip hop enthusiasts who can write GET IN TOUCH! Where were we? Oh yes, DEATH GRIPS. Goddamn it, this is just other plane music. No doubt is there hip-hop influence on display in DEATH GRIPS, but really this is nowhere near the county line of purist’s hip-hop. In fact in the future these guys may be noted as some sort of missing link(though never missing) between rap music and what rap music became. I’ve been hearing avant hip-hop for years, and more recently big popstar rappers going weird, and while I’ve enjoyed (some of)the fruits of many of these efforts never before DEATH GRIPS have I been so satisfied in the exploratory efforts of both MC and producer in tandem and without sacrifice of the groove, the driving thump that is hip-hop to me. One of the best records of last year, EXMILITARY, was released by this Sacramento trio of producers Zach Hill(HELLA’s drummer, yes), and Andy Morin and vocalist Stefan Burnett. Earlier this year they released THE MONEY STORE, a more polished batch of songs yes, but in no way less interesting. “Double Helix” starts with some blasted out wobbly bass and immediately gets into a vocal sample that serves as the base for most of the tune. A stuttered chorus(a real actual hook) wraps up the verses that just go and go, heading off the rails you think, until that chorus starts the cycle again. Energy, man! “System Blower” has Burnett raging from the get go. Some flat line ugly synth pushes this thing as Burnett’s vocal attack ping pongs all over. This track also features seriously embedded pop moves(love that ascending synth line) amidst all its huffing and puffing. Are you feeling this music? I am. On “The Fever(Aye Aye)” the constant movement is Burnett’s vocal assault, allowing the production to shift subtly and less so between engaging samples that run the gamut between siren-like wails and bubbling synths. It’s all moving so fast, and in your face that the level of hook-age drawing you in is easy to overlook, but it’s there. And that’s the truly amazing thing going on here with DEATH GRIPS. As far out as the vocals or production go, there’s always the beat and a batch of hooks keeping it grounded, and that for me is just what makes this record so special. And they have another record. NO LOVE, set to be released later this year. My heart can hardly take it.

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