Song of the Week #3

Alex Ralston and Brock Burnett

 Alex’s Pick- Death Grips – “Come Up And Get Me”

Death Grips is an experimental hip-hop trio based in Sacramento, CA, whose earliest work dates back to 2011 when they released their self-titled EP. The group members consist of Zach Hill, Flatlander, and MC Ride. (The only member that should maybe sound familiar from that list is drummer Zach Hill, who had previously worked with Hella.) Despite having very few people in their following at the time, Death Grips made an incredible splash in the underground music community with the release of their 2011 mixtape Exmilitary. Ever since, they’ve made several of the strangest and warped hip-hop albums to date; and when I say “hip-hop,” I’m slightly stretching.

The reason I would hesitate to label Death Grips’ music as “hip-hop” is because it’s very atypical of anything you would hear on an orthodox rap track, if there even is such a thing. To start, the vocals are usually being yelled at the highest volume possible by MC Ride. His delivery is actually so hard to decipher that most of the time, you’ll have to find the lyrics and engage in a kind of twisted read-along. Once you actually get into the lyrics, you’ll notice some constant themes in their music: paranoia and violence (think of the standard Waka Flocka track). However, Death Grips blows the violence way out of proportion, which makes the violence bragged about in rap seem incredibly grotesque.

When it comes to the instrumentals, you won’t be getting anything much prettier. In fact, Death Grips seems to work hard on making the noisiest, roughest, and most disturbing sounds they possibly can. The drumbeats, crafted by Zach Hill, are hard-hitting and complicated, sometimes to the point that it’s hard to find any actual pattern to the drum hits. The synth arrangements and samples, handled by Flatlander, focus on distortion and create an unsettling mood. That’s not to say that the music isn’t enjoyable, though.

A lot of Death Grips’ music is centered around some devilish character that MC Ride plays, and I think that part of the music displays itself in the first track off of their second studio album, “NO LOVE DEEP WEB.” The song itself is called “Come Up And Get Me,” whose title should give some indication as to what the subject matter is. In the song, MC Ride is rapping about a situation in which he is hiding on the eighth floor of an abandoned building in hopes to escape the police. His flows, as per the usual, are extremely sporadic and the lyrics are choppy, which serves to match the experience of an insane man escaping arrest. Throughout the song, Ride is constantly deciding his course of action: should he jump out of the window or try to sneak out through the streets? And all the while, he’s threatening the police to come up there and get him.

The instrumental for the track is overall abrasive and upfront. The track starts with a very stilted bassline that attacks the ears, and then transitions abruptly into a buzzing bass with yet another stilted drumline on top. I like how the instrumental is minimal enough to fully display Ride’s lyricism and flows. Overall, the track is extremely adrenaline-rich and illustrious, and I think Death Grips are at their best on this song.

Brock’s Pick- The Head and the Heart- “Lost in My Mind”

The Head and the Heart is a folk band that formed up in 2009 in Seattle, Washington. They’ve released two albums, one of which is self-titled and the other is “Let’s Be Still.” They have a very relaxing, yet at the same time energizing sound. The singers of The Head and the Heart harmonize very well. Their songs can inspire a wide array of emotions in a listener. From sadness and melancholy to joy and adventure, The Head and the Heart’s music can capture emotions so well. Their lyrics are utilized as a tool to further convey the emotions and overall themes from their songs. Their folky sound is really nice to hear in a time when the radio mostly spits out pop and rap tracks.


The Head and the Heart’s first album titled “The Head and the Heart” is filled with pretty great instrumentation. The guitar and piano are found on most, if not all, tracks. The use of the violin to accent certain songs is impressive and makes for a very impressive sound. The only big concern with this album is that it doesn’t have a unique sound to it. The second album “Let’s Be Still” definitely shows the band off as they have established their own sound. The first album is still great though, just not quite as stand-outish.

“Lost in My Mind” is the more prominent single released from their first album. The band capitalizes on a gentle guitar and piano that build throughout the song. “Lost in My Mind” has some beautiful harmonies throughout. The lyrics are sweet enough. They don’t have much substance, but there’s some substance, more than you would find in an average pop song. Overall, it’s a sweet song with good instrumentation and harmonies and some lyrics that definitely have potential, but aren’t great.