Mashing Up Death Grips

[Warning: Probably sensitive language in some of this music so maybe wear headphones. I don’t know. You do you.]

Okay. Let’s talk about Death Grips.

Death Grips is an experimental hip hop group based in California and started in 2010. Their vocals are primarily provided by MC Ride and the sound is primarily mixes of hip hop, punk, electronic, and industrial. This does not make easy listening:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89F5fpvwPr0

While Death Grips does utilize sampling as part of their music, the aggressive and improvisational nature of MC Ride’s lyrics has left an impression within the wider meme culture of YouTube mash-up culture. And the rough and industrial sounds of Death Grips’ original songs get replaced with a variety of different works.

As part of the comedic spin to meme culture, a number of these remixes are meant either as more blunt and in your face parodies of Mc Ride’s lyrical style attached to calmer tracks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQzNZR-LXZc

As unexplained music nerd ‘how can this even work’ pieces

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvOXul0gv1s

Or as inter-meme clustermess:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWqQsusgsqE

Now going beyond the argument on if these mash-ups are unoriginal or lesser than the original (which goes back to my rant on remixing) I want to talk about the acclimatization effect of these mash-ups and how it serves as a background element of mash-up culture as a whole. As part of the wider industrial and punk movements in music, the sounds we find in Death Grips as background to the lyrical content are meant to be abrasive at the very least. The nihilism of some of the precursor bands of Industrial such as Velvet Underground, along with their prog rock sounds, is impressively influential while simultaneously leaving the band behind and forgotten.

But while the attraction for many listeners seems to be the aggressive and primal musings of MC Ride, the cultural artifacts of samples and networks of music software allow any consumer to proactively adjust the music. Either from inspiration or from a simple need to remove the unclean sounds something about Death Grip’s music has allowed to enter the wider lexicon of memetic culture. For mash-ups, we find a natural home in memes and music. Death Grips has managed to find a home in both. If that means Death Grips as a band will last longer because of this relationship remains to be seen.

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