“Black Paint” is the embodiment of everything I love and hate about Death Grips: the abrasive, challenging sonic aesthetic and the esoteric, borderline useless lyrics. The production, namely the guitar work but also the slick intermixing of earlier Death Grips work, create a unique atmosphere that is akin to plunging your head into freezing water, yanking it back out, and sprinting down the street at three in the morning in fear of demons that don’t exist. MC Ride’s vocal performance is also characteristically visceral and unhinged, adding another layer of madness to “Black Paint.” It’s just that what Ride says seems of minimal importance in relation to how he says it. The fury of his voice seems to call your attention more than the disjointed lyrics which just barely manage to create a story about depraved isolation, a theme more established by the sound than the words.
Death Grips’ negative energy is at full tilt, but the means for channeling their darkness and depravity have leaned towards more electronic, new-wave, and alternative avenues. With the obvious example being the wrathful guitar work on “Black Paint,” there’s also the cryptic first track “Death Grips is Online.” Making use of grating and charged synths, as well as these unsettling transitions, “Death Grips is Online” manages to combine these aspects with some their better lyrics, resulting in a brain-crushing mess of evil that grabs you in a cruel and unapologetic way.
The vibrant and distorted maximalism of “Death Grips is Online” is balanced by the relative simplicity of songs like “Streaky,” “Linda’s in Custody,” and “The Horn Section,” the latter of which is exactly what Death Grips interlude would sound like. Focusing on “Streaky,” this is possibly the most outright grotesque song on this record, while also being the most rap-oriented. Serving as a metaphor for the groups depravity and a statement on the relationship with their fans, “Streaky” is disgusting both in its imagery as in its symbolism.
Year of the Snitch is an amazing record, but it also had me asking why I like Death Grips. “Streaky” likens the group to drug dealers, and us to the customers. They produce dark, demented things that we consume with an unparalleled fervor. Why? Because Death Grips’ music is like a serial killer documentary. We want to learn about Jeffrey Dahmer because we are certain that we will never see any of the things he has done in a real, intimate way, dramatizing his evil and creating a morbidly fascinating display. It would disgust us beyond words if we were to truly know what those things meant. Death Grips is the same thing. It’s a horror show that we’ve popularized due to our own fascination with the morbidness and depravity portrayed in the characters drawn up by MC Ride. It’s wrong. It’s awful. But you can’t stop listening to the hypnotic violence.