The Backlash Against Death Grips’ Album Leak


Yesterday, Death Grips announced via all their social media outlets that their label wouldn’t give a proper release date to their new album, NO LOVE DEEP WEB. In response, they leaked their own album, streaming the entire thing on Soundcloud, offerring up free downloads, and coordinating a seemingly rebellious but clearly carefully planned attack: a barrage of Facebook and Twitter updates, a scheduled time for the leak, a tracklist reveal, several sites picking up the news, and a “fuck the world” picture to really rally the troops.

After the leak, their website,, was temporarily shut down. The band’s drummer, producer, and music industry veteran Zach Hill told Pitchfork that the label shut the site down. Pitchfork then updated, without citing any specific sources, that Epic involvement with the shutdown.

At face value, the whole thing looked like a punk-spirited rebellion against a major label. This is something that very much appealed to Death Grips fans, as evidenced by all the tweets that the group retweeted. But for the first time, a lot of Death Grips followers, including myself, were starting to wonder what was going on.

The initial news of Death Grips signing to a label seemed premature in the first place. Ex-Military got them a lot of buzz, but the aggressive, noisy style being labeled as “punk hip-hop” and “noise rap” wasn’t the easiest thing to digest, and the band’s somewhat mysterious nature wasn’t decidedly inaccessible. Then again, Odd Future made it, and mystery is a hot selling point these days.

And so it was, at the beginning of 2012, Death Grips signed to Epic Records and announced that two albums would be out by the end of the year. The first, The Money Store, dropped on April 24th to much acclaim. Things were going according to plan, and they even made a surprising move when MTV put together an interactive video for the group’s most accesible song to date, “I’ve Seen Footage.”

As well-received as the major label debut was, it also wasn’t a huge seller, pushing under 4,000 units in the first week and making little noise in the mainstream. So what happened with the second album, NO LOVE DEEP WEB? Was the label not ready to commit to another release? Was this whole leak a scheme to further Death Grips’ reputation as an anti-mainstream, rebellious enigma (that just happens to be signed to a major label)?

Whatever the case, the whole fiasco seemed to have backfired. While some fans are excited about the leak and rallying behind the defiance of the experimental hip-hop group, there are plenty of others who are suspicious that they’re being had, and that this was all part of some bigger plot that the label may be in on. After all, is the group really this upset over a push-back? And if they are, why did they sign to a major label in the first place?

Not only are people starting to question the authenticity of this leak, but they’re starting to investigate the originality of Death Grips. Much of this digging has lead to one artist in particular: B L A C K I E. He’s an experimental hip-hop artist from Houston who has performed with Death Grips in the past, exhibiting a very similar sound, style, and aesthetic. The other thing worth noting: he’s been doing this since the mid-2000s, and judging by his tweets and retweets, he doesn’t seem to be too convinced of DG.




So what do you think? Was this all a big coordinated attempt to maintain an image while still riding with a major label? Is it a genuine case of what happens when a less-than-accessible act gets picked up by a major? Will it end up paying off or hurting what Death Grips built in the first place?

  • Greeg

    I feel like for a lot of Death Grip fans (including myself) that “No Love Deep Web” is really, really good regardless if it’s a stunt or not. Ex-military and The Money store were also phenomenal.

  • Felipe

    I don’t understand what the big deal is? Who cares, just enjoy the music you hipsters.

  • derp

    blackie is good and has been around longer… but i LIKE death grip better. even if they DID rip his sound, who cares if they take it and do it better?

  • Felipe M

    Agree with Greeg and other Felipe. Who cares? Is the album not great? Even if this was just a sly marketing tactic, they’re supplying free music. They could have slapped a big walmart sticker on the dick on the cover for all I care. Also, regarding blackie, I don’t buy into the argument that because he has been on the scene for longer, he can feel as if he has a monopoly over this sound.

  • yo

    yea you guys are overthinking with this one, just enjoy the music

  • Marko

    These people all work for epic. This is all a conspiracy. Death grips is actually another cgi group created by Damon Albarn.

  • Greeg

    Well, wouldn’t that be amazing? Gorillaz is great!

  • Honk

    People talk n think fffffffaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrr too much fuck people if u like the music then listen to it if not just listen to something else that easy!

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  • Mark C. Austin

    There is no question that Death Grips is a straight rip of B L A C K I E and not even that well done.

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