Jenny Death is here; R.I.P. music.
Jenny Death When?
The streets smell of piss and smoke. The skyline is black and the city sprays neon lights across windows and buildings. In a seedy underground bar, a drunken teenager is kneeling in a pool of vomit with blood gushing from his nose. Whores dance with drug dealers. The bathroom mirror is broken and drenched in spit and graffiti. Cocaine residue is on every surface. This is Death Grips’ world.
Jenny Death awaits me. She is dressed in ripped jeans and a black t-shirt, a bandage rapped around her wrist. I’ve been waiting on the corners of these fucked streets and in these fucked bars for eight months. I was scared she had killed herself, that her self-abuse and nihilist lifestyle had finally overcome her. But here she stands, fatigued and beautiful, deadly and glowing.
niggas on the moon
Last year Death Grips took to Bjork with scissors and presented the results as niggas on the moon. It was an odd album; billed as the first half of a double record entitled The Powers That B. Bjork’s voice cast silver shards of glass across the Grips’ sonic palette. But the singer as “found object” idea wore thin and gimmicky.
The songs themselves were pretty great. They sounded like the logical continuation of that spasmodic energy so refined on Government Plates - all chaos, filth and violence. Sound filled to the corners, bustling and busy, the tones smashed against each other and moved at a typically uncompromising pace.
But something about niggas on the moon felt incomplete, like a sentence lacking a full stop. For this reason, most held off reviewing it. Of course, it was billed as part one of two, but even then, niggas on the moon lacked the progression and energy crucial to Death Grips previous work.
Punk is dead; she signed her farewell on a napkin.
Commercialization is the knife in punk’s back. Rebels work hard fighting the establishment until they are lured into its trappings. Success killed Malcolm McLaren. Death Grips had to die.
In the digital age, our past is a wasteland and our future bears no hope. Death Grips’ ethos managed to perfectly capture the chaotic nothingness of our hyperactive dying and the anger associated with collective hopelessness. While the world burns, MC Ride flashes his cock and fights like a caged animal. We are all dead anyway, so why not destroy everything? Punch holes in walls, etc.
And its true Death Grips aren’t the only punks. The digital underground is rife with anarchists wreaking havoc on established ideals. Piracy is fucked. Record labels are fucked. Pop music is fucked. Experimental music is fucked. Advertisement is especially fucked! And subculture died twenty years ago.
I honestly doubt anybody took Death Grips’ “breakup” seriously, but I understand the urge and frustration. Years of pointless screaming can hurt your throat and besides, did they really think they could actually change anything? No. It’s easier just to give up. No one’s listening anymore. And those who used to care have now turned their backs.
“I want to kill myself.”
Jenny had just returned from the bathroom, amped, and found me toying with a cigarette. The bar was mostly empty, save for a few freaks and fiends still lingering in the corners. She skimmed the room and landed on my eyes, whispering again. “I want to kill myself.”
At that moment, I swear she has never looked so beautiful. Her eyes were bloodshot and her mascara slightly smeared. It had been a wild reunion but I wanted to leave; I wanted to die right there with her.
We ascended the stairs and moved into the open air, disappearing into the labyrinth of streets. It was late and I smoked my cigarette. Jenny offered me a bump; I took the hit and continued to walk beside her.
She explained her absence.
“The world is holding me hostage,” she said, “I no longer belong to anything. I have exhausted myself; we have all exhausted ourselves. Words no longer count. Lies overlap truths.”
The crack passed through my veins and I began rummaging through all the crap I’d collected in my pockets. I found a bottle cap and began scratching it against my skin. The pain cooled my nerves. Jenny continued:
“I don’t expect anything from anyone and I don’t think the world fully understands me. I’m flailing around, pointlessly waiting for something to happen, but nothing ever happens.”
We slipped into an alley to fuck.
Try and tame me.
Nobody can tame Death Grips; they are an uncontrollable force, snowballing into oblivion. Jenny Death is their loudest album to date. Guitars permeate with warmer tones and further depth, adding to the swathes of industrial squeals. Kevin Shields may well have been an influence, especially on the last two tracks.
For a Dadaist project, Death Grips have presented an album that’s surprisingly accessible. “Why A Bitch Gotta Lie” is all earwormy repetition and robotica, with MC Ride delivering his verses through unintelligible but catchy autotune. Similarly, “PSS PSS” is a sure crowd favourite: imagine a crowd of sweaty, cocaine-fuelled hipsters jointly singing about pissing on faces.
How do they do it? How do this trio continually push boundaries, sonically and thematically?
Death Grips appear to us at the right time; a time where anger and dissatisfaction with the powers that be ripple through the world wide web and into the souls of every person who’s ever been fucked over. They manifest the nonsensical noise associated with the Internet in an era where escapism is the only way to remain sane.
It can be heard in MC Ride’s lyrics. He is not happy with the state of our world, and you shouldn’t be either. Suicide is everywhere on this album, almost alarmingly so. On “Centuries of Damn” he grapples with intentional overdose with the pen of a poet:
I’m triple the motherfucker,
Mondo fisted, full of backwards,
My slang step like a legless lizard,
I fuck around, fashion a rocket,
Shoot to Mercury, for the winter,
Extended vacation ‘till I decompose on my splinters.
On “On GP”, a lethargic track best described as a Death Grips ballad, Stefan talks of buying an “old black rope” to tie and hang up in his chamber. It’s heavy stuff, but it works in the context of Death Grips nihilist universe. The noise of suffering surrounds and consumes Jenny Death, sonically and lyrically, resulting in the bands most conceptually audacious and frightening release yet.
The record appropriately concludes with “Death Grips 2.0”, an odd instrumental that has fans and critics grappling with its purpose. Some suggest that the track points to the bands future, with or without MC Ride, and the kinds of sounds we could expect from subsequent records. Others believe Jenny Death is Death Grips 2.0, the inclusion of guitars and wider, warmer sounds already indicative of where the band could be heading next. But really, Death Grips are never that easy to predict and their future is as hazy and haphazard as ever. Fuck, who cares, anyway?
I woke up on cobblestone. All of my stuff was gone. My head hurt and I had bloodstains on my shirt. My mouth tasted like poison and shit. I stumbled into the morning; the sun was up but hidden behind clouds. It started to rain as I moved home. Jenny Death was gone, just another fucking gimmick.