Over a year ago, Death Grips declared that they were disbanding on a hand written napkin on Facebook while working on an album called The Powers That B. They did release the first half around the time of their departure, calling the first half of the album N***** on the Moon. During this time they acknowledged that they were still working on the second half of the album that was entitled Jenny Death. As either heartless jerks or a clever business maneuver, Death Grips never announced when they would be releasing the second half of The Powers That B to anyone. After several months of waiting, the band finally released the album. Their eccentricity is almost the very foundation of their performance in both their music and personal life. But does this chaotic lifestyle help boost this album? Or does it ruin it?
N***** on the Moon is a world within itself of electronic sounds and drums. The first half of this album is truly a double-edged sword. This LP focuses more of its time on fast paced samples and glitchy sounds. The beats are very unconventional to the point where you don’t know where the sound is heading towards. Sometimes the beats go into a direction that’s great, and other times, it doesn’t really hit the mark. The song, “Black Quarterback,” is a song that hit’s the mark with its sounds. It’s filled with melodies and rhythm and MC Ride’s voice really stands out on this track. However, these sounds and Ride’s vocals cause problems for the album as well. He doesn’t have his distinctive yell in a couple of the songs, and it feels underwhelming at times.
Some of his lyrics on the first half don’t pack much of a punch in a lyrical sense, like the song “Voila” compared to other tracks on this album. The samples in some of the songs too such as “f*** me out” repeat continuously, and the pace of the instrumentals goes by very quickly almost like listening to a song on fast-forward. Some of the songs don’t really have an impact compared to his work on other albums. These aren’t bad songs per say, their just slightly underwhelmed compared to the rest of the discography by Death Grips.
Though N***** on the Moon is a decent listen the second half of the album, Jenny Death, comes in like a force of nature. The sounds on the second half of the LP are the polar opposite of the first half. Where N***** on the Moon is a constant stream of electronic sounds, Jenny Death sounds more like a punk album. From here on towards the end of this album Death Grips will shatter your mind with pure ferocity. You’ll almost feel like your ears are melting from the music It’s pure aggression and intensity.
What is quite possibly my favorite title of a song in music, “I Break Mirrors with My Face in the United States,” starts off the second half with almost a rally cry of madness that really signals what Jenny Death is aiming towards—straight adrenaline. The only complaint I could find on Jenny Death is the song “Pss Pss,” which is an over-the-top provocative song where urine plays a big role. It came off very juvenile even for a band like Death Grips.
Still say what you will about Death Grips, but if there is one thing that sets them apart from every other musician it’s their originality. There truly is no one like them and it feels almost impossible to copy their hectic sound. The climax of The Powers that B is a prime example of their originality too. The climax is a rock summit anthem called “On GP” that brings forth a blast of psychedelic rock music that carries an astonishing melody, while MC Ride brings forth sinister lyrics about his suicidal tendencies. “Death on my front porch / can feel him itching to take me with him, hail death, f*** you waiting for / like a question no one mention, he turns around hands me his weapons / he slurs, use at your discretion it’s been a pleasure Stefan.” This is the only song in Death Grips’s discography to date where MC Ride mentioned his real name. It is a fitting, interesting, and tragic climax to one of the band’s more personal songs.
This song could’ve been the perfect closer to any album honestly. But Death Grips decided to add one more song after this that really did not add anything to the album. It’s titled “Death Grips 2.0,” which gives hints that there may be more work in store for the band in the future, but who’s to say at this point with their unpredictable track record.
The Powers that B is essentially 80 minutes of mind numbing insanity and it almost lives up to the hype. The band makes you feel like they are literally punching your brain with their music. Reviewing this album was difficult in a sense because The Powers that B is essentially two different albums thrown together. The first half of this album, that is N***** on the Moon, is subversive. It leans towards a more obscure and ambiguous sound. While Jenny Death is easily more accessible.
There are some songs on the album that really didn’t add much to the LP and it ended up hurting the album. But the high-quality songs were unbelievable and really boosted the album to new heights. With its flaws The Powers That B is still a compelling listen that brings both minimal and immense sounds together to produce some of their most original and lyrical content yet.