April 24th marked the 10-year anniversary of the official release of The Money Store, the debut studio album from three-piece Sacramento-based group Death Grips. Since its release, this record has built a massive reputation in the music world. From the divisive critical reception, to the cult-following fanbase it possesses, the impact it had on popular music and culture is truly one of a kind.
One can give a detailed description filled with pretentious themes and concepts to explain what the hell is going on throughout the 41-minute tracklist, but the most concise and direct explanation for this album comes from a nine-year-old YouTube comment that has racked up over 10,000 likes: “This album feels like you’re watching Spongebob on your tv and suddenly you get shot in the chest.”
The umbrella term that has been utilized to classify this record is alternative hip-hop. However, The Money Store is anything but hip-hop-based, as elements of digital hardcore, paired with punk and industrial are all topped off by the shock-rap and cutthroat delivery of frontman MC Ride. Zach Hill’s prolific drumming joined with the ingenuity of producer Andy Morin all worked together to create thirteen tracks filled with anger, rawness and themes of violence.
In the opening track “Get Got,” the creativity of producers Andy Morin and Zach Hill is displayed for the first time, as the leading melody was extracted from a ringtone found in Arabic Nokia cellphones. Intricate sampling continues in “Hustle Bones,” where a motorcycle engine functions as the bass element of the song, as well as the noise of a train in deep cut “System Blower.”
The leading single “I’ve Seen Footage” opens up with a heavy and distorting riff that carries through the course of the song filled with the catchy phrase “I’ve seen footage/ I stay noided.” In the closing cut of the album, “Hacker,” the production is once again ridiculous; layers of synthesizers, drumline sampling, a segment from early 2010’s electronic hit “Midnight City” by M83 and MC Ride’s “I’m in your area/ I know the first three numbers” hook found in the chorus are all combined to form a triumphant closer.
The influence of Death Grips’ debut effort in popular music was almost instantaneous. Prime examples come from no other than Kanye West, whose 2013 Yeezus featured tracks such as “On Sight” and “New Slaves,” which carry the same boisterous essence— with much less substance and creativity, however. The title song of Tyler, The Creator’s Cherry Bomb (2015) has heavy synths and pounding drums that resemble the production style of Morin and Hill. Rappers in the current alternative scene such as JPEGMAFIA and Slowthai possess a delivery similar to that of MC Ride, exhibited in songs “Baby I’m Bleeding” and “Doorman” respectively.
Even though one decade has passed since its release, The Money Store continues to be as cutting-edge and relevant as it was in 2012. Social media platforms have brought a new wave of dedicated Death Grips fans who have been waiting for new music since 2018. All of the positive attention consequently brings individuals who reduce their work to an angry man screaming within a wall of noise— which is honestly true; however, beyond the unorthodox style, it should be acknowledged how the trio managed to push the boundaries of the hip-hop scene with their rather left-field and unique sound.