Album Review: The Powers That B | Death Grips

Jenny Death

Now, onto the album everyone has been clamoring for. It took us nine fucking months to get here, but we did it, we got to listen to Jenny Death and it’s real. Not only is it a real album, it’s actually really great and sees the group making some seriously progressive steps. While niggas on the moon was a glitchy mess (in a good way!), Jenny Death is an extremely intense fusion of rock, hip-hop, and electronic music.

Right away, you know you’re in for a goddamn show as the album’s opener ‘I Break Mirrors With My Face In The United States’ brings in the intensity right away, with frantic and quickly paced production and Ride at an extreme level of intensity yelling the phrase “I break mirrors with my face in the United States” over and over again sounding more furious with each sounding of the phrase. It sounds less like a hip-hop track and more like a hardcore punk track, ala Black Flag.

The album keeps up this intensity with ‘Inanimate Sensation’, which starts off with MC Ride doing his best impression of a motorcycle speeding down the freeway. In each verse, he seemingly pulls out a different style in his vocals and lyrics which ranges from the usual MC Ride delivery of punk-like yelling vocals and lyrics, whispered and toned-down vocals seen in songs like ‘Get Got’ and ‘Fuck Me Out’ and lyrics that play out a conversation between Ride and maybe a fan, pitched down vocals as Ride lists off his possessions as if he were an addict trying to hold on, and a slower and slurred delivery as Ride pulls out a reference book for the biggest names in classic rock including Guns N Roses, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. In the final bars of the song, Ride possibly sends shots at Kanye Wests and fans, one for making “bacon” instead of music, and the other for being a little too obsessed with music (“I like my iPod more than fuckin”).

“We’re not into lateral movement, you know what I mean? Just stepping side to side. We want to move forward, make things better.”

– MC Ride

We then transition into ‘Turned Off’, which starts off with an ambient and moody guitar intro from Tera Melos’ Nick Reinhart before it kicks into full gear as we’re launched into a spree of fuzzy guitars and energetic vocals from Ride, sounding disconnected from our reality. In this disconnect, which goes even further in “Why a Bitch Gotta Lie” asking the so-called bitch in the song to try and tame him over and over again, which can barely be understood due to the vocoder used in the song during Ride’s verses.

While ‘Big Dipper’ and a decent amount of niggas on the moon has Ride dealing with ego issues, he seems to be embracing this ego on the first six tracks, as he seems to rap from the perspective of the dominator in ‘Fuck Me Out’ and convincing the listener about how much he doesn’t give a fuck about you or the world on the self-titled track ‘The Powers That B’. However, with ‘Beyond Alive’, we’re starting to see Ride transition out of this world he’s created, desperately clinging on. ‘Centuries of Damn’ sees Ride make the full transition out of this self-created world, wanting to head back in. It seems that this world Ride has created is just another massive high.

With ‘On GP’, we’re back into the real world as Ride seems to be reading us his suicide note in song form. It’s the most emotional track Death Grips’ has put out yet as we really look into his perspective with as little mystery as possible. He’s not entirely satisfied with us seeing his perspective (“Listen up, you nosy bitch, listen close”), but nonetheless he’ll answer our questions. However, the song ends on a bit of a triumphant note saying that he won’t die ‘on GP’ (which stands for on general principle) because he knows he’s got friends and family out there who really care for him. As someone who occasionally deals with suicidal thoughts himself, it’s just kind of nice to know that someone as mysterious as MC Ride deals with the same things and knows that there a lot of people out there who care for you, even if it doesn’t always seem like it.

The album ends on ‘Death Grips 2.0’ which is similar to ‘Big Dipper’ as it’s a culmination of drums, synths, and other noises that seems like a transition into a new period for the band, as they “might make some more.” As hard to believe as it is, Jenny Death delivers. While there’s a few low spots on the album (specifically parts of ‘Beyond Alive’, especially the guitar work on the hook which feels out of place), Jenny Death is another consistently great album from a consistently great group, albeit surprising due to the group’s transition from experimental hip-hop to progressive-rock/hardcore punk/shoegaze which comes off as seamless. If you haven’t been a big fan of the group’s previous work, this new album might be for you as it’s basically a rock record, with the occasional electronic-focused track that shows up every once in a while.

When Death Grips said they were “at their best” back in July, it was hard to believe them. While I don’t personally think The Powers That B is there best album, I can see why the group thinks it’s their best. In one album, the band pushes the boundaries of hip-hop so far in niggas on the moon that they felt they’ve done the genre justice and move on to what’s next. It just so happens this next is to become Death Grips 2.0. Whether they’re making experimental pop-rap, hardcore punk music, or progressive rock, the band is constantly moving forward and I’ll make sure I’m always right behind them.

9.1

 

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