I had the wonderful idea of beginning to put this post together while suffering the after effects of a virus; bad idea – I got travel sick. It’s not a bad thing of course, but Death Grips do know that they can fully play with tempo and do so a lot! The first track Up My Sleeves changes pace more than a Springer Spaniel. I wonder if I let track 1 of an album get away with more as an introduction, but this is by the by.
The album only really came to light when exploring the back catalogue of Death Grips work. The epiphany, and please do correct me if I’m wrong, was that this is an experimental album. Let me clarify, this is not the over-enamored parent’s idea of letting a child get away with murder to express itself, but rather a realisation that this is supposed to contain a lot of disparate ideas that don’t necessarily gel.
I can tell you straight away that some tracks really had quite a hook that grabbed me. Listen to Why a Bitch Gotta Lie – actually the sound is really great and I love that electronic sounding rising scale in the track, in the vocals; we are not wholly listening to hip hop here, rather the overall music technique. Let’s take this further again… Listen to the start of Say Hey Kid, it’s so off beat and odd, a sound I really love.
I do what my people would
Because my people would
But only if my people could
I would if my people would
These are simple and pretty heavy hitting lyrics and this track is pretty great just for its posing of lyrical ideas mixed with musical ones; it’s also another example of massive changes in pace. Actually I quite like the acceleration in the “say hey kid” line.
My real issue with the album, and this particularly comes from listening to it raw, is that there seems to be no overarching theme that I can get into. I actually like the amazingly heavy chorus in the titular track The Powers That B.
In fact this track features the lyrics that made me throw my hands up and say, well fine:
No I ain’t shit and I like that
You want a statement, I’m like, “Why’s that?”
I read this (and they’re just two lines) as “don’t read anything into what I’m doing, I’m just doing what I’m doing.” It’s fine in one sense but perhaps a little … a tiny bit diva-ish?
Overall this is not an album for me but it has really made me interested in experimental versions of hip hop. In fact more than anything else, I’d like to have a listen around and come back to this album, see what I can garner. I kind of wanted a defend your album on this, so I could learn more.
Is this album for you?
Errrrrm… It’s niche… It’s disparate, it’s heavy rap music with heavy beats. You have to really listen to the lyrics that are quite often obscured and it is pretty explicit in terms of language… but if none of that puts you off, give it a try! There is certainly stuff there, but for me, for now I’ll measure it based on my tastes.
- Writing: 8/10
- Performance: 6.5/10
- Style: 7/10