Death Grips is my favorite band and for a good reason. Their unique blend of hip-hop with electronic and punk music creates an experimental sound not many bands can pull off. Their dark lyrics, aggressive instrumentals, and disregard for conformity created an entire new style of hip-hop and no other band can even come close to matching this interesting mix. Their provocative antics like leaking an album in spite of their record label delaying its release; putting the drummer’s penis on the album art with the title “No Love Deep Web” written on it in sharpie; and even not showing up to their own concerts, only fueled my interest in this band.
Yet, the most intriguing aspect of this band is the community of their listeners. In fact, their efforts was what sparked my initial interest in the band. I found out about the Death Grips from internet memes. Though it may seem strange, memes are what actually inspired me to look up the Death Grips on YouTube and check out their first mixtape “Exmilitary.”
The first Death Grips meme I encountered was actually a picture of senator Bernie Sanders holding the “Exmilitary” mixtape in his hands. I had seen the album art before, a photo torn in four pieces making the portrait of a man, with the band’s name written on the side and the title “Exmilitary” on the bottom-right corner, but I was never aware of the music inside it. This obviously photoshopped image drew my attention because I knew it was Senator Sanders. I laughed thinking of someone who actually put in the time to photoshop the album into his hands.
After that I looked up the Death Grips on Google, read a snippet of the Wikipedia entry, and found out they were a hip-hop group. At the time I was no real fan of hip-hop. I grew up listening to Eminem, but I was always more of a 60s rock fan and punk fan. When I heard how this band blended elements of other genres, however, I remained interested. After that I did more research and, more importantly, saw more memes.
I can recall one of the more interesting memes I saw was a picture of three characters from the cartoon Arthur practicing their instruments. The caption read, “IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES GUILLOTINE YUH.” I had no idea what the meme was even referencing until I checked the comments on the post to find out it was actually a reference to a Death Grips song. The caption was actually lyrics from the song! I immediately looked up the song, titled Guillotine, on YouTube and found its music video. That video blew my mind. It’s a very basic video of the MC, Ride, sitting in a car. The atmosphere is very eerie because filters are used to make the background look like static, bringing contrast to an otherwise normal scenario. Ride bobs his head as the music plays, until he begins to scream, “IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES GUILLOTINE YUH.” After finishing that video, I was an instant fan.
I’ve become such a fan that I recently attended a Death Grips concert. The meme culture had spread into real life, as one of the attendees had a shirt depicting the Death Grips member, Ride, in an anime style. It seemed everyone there was in on the Death Grips memes, but also enjoyed the music itself as well. While initially nervous, this vibe made me feel more comfortable as the night went on. The music, the dancing and the people were great. I know I will remember this night for the rest of my life. It just goes to show what memes can potentially do for you.