Deaths Grips and Afro-punk music


Recently, I have fallen in love with an Afro-punk hip-hop band from Sacramento called Death Grips. Although largely of the music I listen to is hip-hop, r&b, funk, and soul music, yet I truly enjoy listening to all forms of music since childhood. My mother raised me to have an open mind to a wide variety of music: from Los Amigos, George Duke to Les Nubians, my mother played it all.

About eight months ago a good friend of mine picked me up from my uncle’s place on a Friday night. We were heading out to a near by dive bar in midtown. When she pulled in front my uncle’s house. My friend was blasting some aggressive rock-ish punk hip-hop song. I instantly noticed the production was pretty dope, however I could not recognize the rapper or the producer. Ever since that day I have been hooked on the aura of Death Grips.

Death Grips is comprised of three people, Stefan Burnett, Zach Hill and Andy ‘Flatlander’ Morin. Stefan is the rapper of the group and his stage name is MC Ride, Zach is the drummer in the band, and Andy is the producer. What attracted to me Death Grips was that their sound reminded me of Krump music from the South or Southern California. For example the rap group Crime Mob, Lil John or the artist Mystical were the people that came to mind when I started looking more into Death Grips. The musical icons in Death Grips songs resembled the music of Krump music, however the vocal delivery from MC Ride has nice mixture of hardcore punk and aggressive rap. MC Ride rapping style sometimes sounds like he’s having a conversation with himself or he is telling jokes to an audience. Also his rap style could resonate with hardcore EDM with a mix of spoken word. As for the drummer Zach Hill and his drumming style is purely interesting. Mr. Hill uses unconventional sounding cymbals, often referred to as “trash” cymbals. Usually trashed cymbals consist of broken cymbals between 3 and 4 stacked on top of each other. This setup produces a harsh sound similar to a China cymbal, but less fancy. Both MC Ride and Zach Hill are also visual artists; MC Ride studied visual art at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia prior to his music career. As for Hill he published a fully illustrated book called Destroying Yourself is Too Accessible, which also included one of his album called Masculine Drugs.

As, I continue try dig deep into the ethnomusicological perspective of Death Grips I realized that hardcore punk culture has been claimed by Gothic white kids for a very long time. However, punk and Goth culture has roots in African and African American culture prior to the white Gothic culture. There has been slow emergence of the Afro-punk culture since the late 1970’ s-1980 in America, with Jimi Hendrix leading the new wave of black hardcore rock, punk, and funk music. Yet, Goth, rock and punk culture has deep roots in African culture as well dating back centuries ago. Wearing all black, extreme body piercing, tattoos and listening and playing heavy mental rock music has been present in South Africa, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Rwanda, and Mali. There are even hardcore rock punk bands in Africa dating back to the 1960’s in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The continual emergence of Afro-punk music has been vessel of bridging the gap between Africans and African Americans because of iconic figures like Jimi Hendrix has inspired other African musician to created their own version Afro-rock punk music and culture. Afro-punk culture is becoming a new platform of Pan-Africanism because alternative African and African American artists are creating new sub-culture of music and black identity that has not always been showcased in black culture.

Stay funky and keep it juicy

AfroDust is a dj with KSSU where she is known to do stuff, and things.

%d bloggers like this: