Noise Rap and Me: An Odyssey

I’ve always known of Death Grips but had never listened to any of their material, .clipping being my only foray into ‘noise’ rap as their style of music is often called. But there was no way I could resist clicking on a link for a song titled “You Might Think He Loves You for Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You for It’s Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat.” I didn’t know how to react; by no means did I dislike the song, but I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around it. I wanted to understand it and its place in music; how and why this genre emerged, essentially. So I set out on a quest for knowledge, a pilgrimage to the mecca of noise rap in the form of a week long binge of nothing but Death Grips, .clipping, a dash of $uicideBoy$, some Dälek, and more of the ilk. Basically I listened to nothing but noise rap every time I hopped in my car or put my headphones in (which I do a lot). And what a wild ride it was.


I have class at 10am every day, so I roll out of bed around 7:30 every morning to get started with life. My routine is to wake up, grab my Bluetooth speaker, throw on some tunes and hop in the shower right off the bat. Normally something light like Jack Johnson or maybe just some Madlib instrumentals usually gets my day started right, and my roommates (who don’t wake up nearly as early as I do) generally can’t complain if it interrupts their slumber. However, as soon as “Giving Bad People Good Ideas” dropped I was verbally assaulted and threatened from the other side of the bathroom door. Some people just have no respect for science, and it was at this point very early on that I realized I wouldn’t have a lot of support from my contemporaries on this experiment.

Of course I’m throwing some ear buds in on my walk to class, and I’ve assembled a solid playlist with some 11 plus hours of cacophony to just throw on shuffle. I was definitely making a fairly stern face throughout my walk, because what other kind of expression/emotion would I muster while listening to a man yell some outlandish shit over heavy drumming. People probably thought I was on a mission to end someone though, because I noticed a fair amount of double takes and concerned looks thrown in my direction.


One of my roommates totaled his car earlier this year so I’ve been giving him rides to work when I can. When we got in the car and “Slip on a Banana Clip” was the first song to come through the speakers he released an audible groan of exasperation. Upon arriving at his workplace and departing he informed me that he would walk the rest of the time I was planning on torturing all of them (my roommates) with that “heinous shit.” I guess he’s just not really feeling this noise rap like I’m starting to. Or the excessive volume I played it at in the whip could have been too much for his eardrums, who knows. Saves gas and time for me so I’m not complaining either.


I noticed last night that I was able to stay awake longer than I’m used to. I’m definitely more of a morning person, and oftentimes it’s lights out for me around 11:30pm whether I like it or not. This doesn’t bother me though, I actually kind of like being up later, especially since everyone else I live with is a night owl. It’s also allowed me to pick up some extra late shifts at work, and I’m not complaining about some extra cash, especially because I can’t wait to get hammered and listen to this stuff.

I also think I’m beginning to enjoy some of it, as I’m now picking out songs instead of just putting my playlist on shuffle. Death Grips speaks to me especially, but I’m not quite sure why yet. Songs like “Trash” and “No Love” really gets me going though, and Stefan Burnett has an undeniable energy that is only accentuated by Zach Hill’s ear for progressive and off-kilter melodies. And the lyrics are very Beck-esque, something else I’m a fan of.


At the gym today I went to the bag room to see if my heavy exposure to the genre had manifested some sort of intense rage in me that would make hitting something just feel really good. But this music gives me a different kind of rage; one that I feel can only be extinguished with a solid mosh session. Whenever a beat drops super hard, which is all the time to be honest, all I can think of is how much fun it would be to just throw my body at things. That, and if the current track would work well as a WWE walk-up song, because I can’t think of a better way to amp you up to grapple with another man in a unitard.


The last day and I’m making the most of it. I’m in charge of the aux cord tonight whether my friends like it or not, and I’m trying to pregame exclusively to Death Grips. I was definitely right that this music would be better when I was a bit drunk as well. All I wanted to do was move and head bang until the sun came up. I even considered bringing a pair of ear buds to the bars just so that I’d still be somewhat listening to it, but decided against it to avoid the risk of looking like a weirdo trying to make a business call at midnight in a crowded college bar.

Normal music sounded foreign to me as I entered the first bar with the squad. The wind was taken out of my sails and I could feel myself losing energy at a quicker rate than usual. But then “I Can’t Feel My Face” came on and I was back at it in no time.


I’ve come to embrace the noise rap genre with open arms and I certainly understand its place in music now. Death Grips is by far and away my favorite, and probably the only act that I’ll bring into my musical rotation, because after this week I’ve concluded that everyone needs some to listen to regularly. It awakens a primal rage inside your gut, very similar to the one you get when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” comes on some really loud speakers. As a college aged male I definitely feel the pressure to put on faces in order to fit in better and seem ‘normal,’ but fuck that noise. In a society where everything has been normalized and individuality is often, but not always frowned upon, it was nice to have such a catalyst that allowed me to just let go and act like our most ancient of ancestors. Because you know cavemen would get the fuck down with “Gullotine.”

3 Weeks Later…

Just finished listening to “No Love” while I was in the shower. That progression is just so mesmerizing, I can’t stop listening to it. I’ll admit that I have not listened to a single song by any of the other groups or artists on my playlist but Death Grips anymore. These guys just own the genre with such a firm iron fist, the same iron fist that has my ear canals.

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