A YEAR IN MUSIC: DEATH GRIPS – Niggas on the Moon (2014)

A YEAR IN MUSIC: 2014
Review by: Jonathan Moss

Man, Death Grips are such a good band. Some people give them shit for being edgy and to be fair they are edgy but in the 21st century they really are doing something new. MC Ride for one is a very original rapper. He gets typecast as an angry black man but I think there’s a lot more to him than that. He can do a lot more than express anger and on niggas in the moon in particularly he displays moments of playfulness. I’m going to start a new paragraph now but i’ll pick this thread back up later. 

Niggas on the Moon is somewhat overshadowed by Jenny Death but its a fantastic album by itself. It opens with Up My Sleeves which starts off with a female computer voice and car alarm (I think) after which Ride rapidly says the title of the song over zach hills cymbals. Then it goes into Bjorks vocal samples and this really interesting droning, fucked up synthesizer playing. I wont analyse Ride’s lyrics or anything but they’re really fantastic, including the simply GREAT PUN “quench my hearse”. The song continues along this line before going into a really creepy subdued bit with MC Ride monotonously saying “If I’m so necessary, blank blank obituary, at Broadway cemetery, at Broadway cemetery, was like I’ll ever know, was like I even want to know, was like I never didn’t know, was like I don’t know I don’t know, if I’m so necessary, blank blank obituary, at Broadway cemetery” then manically laughing before going back to the main, erm, hook of the song. This easily makes it for me one of my favourite Death Grips songs. 

It segues perfectly into the second track Billy Not Really which features more great Bjork vocal sampling and a strange almost paganistic, possibly synthesized flute line, or something that sounds like it. Either way it gives the song an almost night time woodsy vibe, despite being synthesized. Black Quarterback- the song that follows- is really fucking manic and has a very catchy chorus. The “Eddy’s crazy, abrogate me” bit is hooktastic as well, containing an almost infectious bouncy, dancey synth line. Say Hey Kid is cool as well, featuring MC Ride delivering the line “dont it feel good to drive a bus? People need to get picked up” in a disconcertingly playful way. It’s one of the creepiest songs on the album, with the synth line sounding almost sickly- and IDMish- and lyrics which contain references to overdosing and seem to be about vampires, though probably as a metaphor, idk. Have a Sad Cum BB is definitely the noisiest song on the album, with buzzing synth lines bobbing against each other, synthesized MC Ride vocals, really frazzled Bjork (i’m not even sure if its Bjork on this one) vocal samples and some female sing-shouting the title of the song. This gives it a very raucous seasick vibe, but hell, its danceable. Fuck Me Out is interesting lyrically, seeming to be about how sexual contact is preferable to love. Its got a catchy chorus as well. Voila is one of the weaker songs in my opinion but it still has some great high pitched screaming from MC Ride. Big Dipper is a strong closing song, with MC Ride rapping in the chorus “I’m a bullshitter, I’m a shitty stripper, I’m a silhouette lifter, I’m a struck stuck off kilter, I’m a bent bewildered, I’m a fucking downer, I’m a binge thinner, I’m a Big Dipper”, before repeating it again, but y’know, with more shouting. It’s a very fun line to quote randomly at people on facebook messenger. The song features more strange sounding synth lines and is definitely the most abstract song on a pretty abstract album. 

Shit, that’s all the songs on the album! So what can be said about it as a whole. Well, its one of Death Grips leanest albums, the jittery IDMish vibe of the album giving it the same thin, distorted image of MC Ride on the album cover. The Needle Drop critiqued Ride for sounding listless on it but I very much disagree, I think it has some of his most varied vocal performances and the parts TND found as being listless were I would wager intended that way for effect. 

So, to conclude, this is a very strong and somewhat overlooked Death Grips album, and one that helps to negate the image somewhat of Death Grips being a purely edge based band centred on shouting and profanity. Very much recommended.
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Author: tomymostalas

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