Surrealism #1: Year of the Snitch by Death Grips

Death grips, since their releasing of their debut mixtape ‘Exmilitary in 2011’, has always been praised within the music industry for their innovation of industrial rap and experimental music. After their 2016 album ‘Bottomless Pit’ which was the amalgamation of many sounds and genres they’ve experimented with in the past, fans wondered where they could go from there. Enter 2018’s ‘Year of the Snitch’. This was album was a left hook for listeners of Death Grips in terms of sound and style. They’ve always delivered music that evokes emotion, whether it be feelings of confusion, anger, or catharsis, but on ‘Year of the Snitch’ they go off the deep end. It’s definitely the most eclectic work in their discography with the presentation of sounds of industrial rock in the vain of early Nine Inch Nails on the opening track, or Black Flagesque punk on ‘Black Paint’, or even free jazz on ‘The Fear’.

A lot of these songs evoke a strong sense of discomfort. Discomfort has definitely been a theme previously in their discography on albums like “No Love Deep Web’, but never to this extent. Some of the instrumentals on this album are hellish. They sound like something out of a freak show and the pained vocal delivery of Ride wouldn’t be too out of place there either. The song ‘Linda’s in Custody’ begins with a fear inducing decrescendo that is not nearly as abrasive as the previous track, yet is noticeably freakier. This instrumental paired with Ride’s nearly whispered vocals makes the listener uncomfortable to an extent as far as The Normal’s ‘Warm Leatherette’. This isn’t even mentioning the background vocals that remind me of a sort of voice of reason telling the listener to do heinous and disgusting acts.

Unlike previous works in Death Grips’ discography, the focus of this album is not on volume and anger, but that of disgust. The chords on ‘Hahaha’ are disgusting. It sort of sounds like you’re in a collapsing basketball court all alone and the ‘inspirational’ music playing on the loudspeaker is being played on a worn out tape player, making it really distorted. Not to mention the lyrics that sound like the ramblings of a schizophrenic man: “Pint of snake blood heat you on one, I am many and we are none”. Another example is the sickening themes of the song ‘Streaky’, the themes of which are unspeakable for any decent person. Luckily for us, Ride has proven he’s not exactly a ‘decent’ person by any stretch of the imagination.

For gauging how disgusting this album sets out to be we need not look further than the album cover. This cover wouldn’t be out of place on the ‘cursed images’ subreddit. This is an album cover that looks how the album sounds.

There’s a strange effect some of these songs evoke in the listener. Among the vile sounding music and lyrics, there’s also a sense of triumph. These songs aren’t exactly ‘hype’, but a lot of the revving synths and occasionally upbeat guitars instill a sense of “I can do anything”. Even some of the chord progressions on songs like “Little Richard”, “The Fear” or “Disappointed” can be looked at as uplifting. This effect has been used in previous Death Grips songs, notably used on their most musically uplifting song: “On GP”. This variation just goes to show how versatile Death Grips is as a group. They can go from hard hitting disgusting beats like on “No Love Deep Web” to triumphant rap-punk like on “Jenny Death”.

If there’s any word I could use to describe this album, and even Death Grips as a whole it would be “Abstract”. ‘Year of the Snitch’ the most ‘Death Grips’ Death Grips album. It shows the brutality of the group on songs like “Disappointed”, to their electronic hip hop roots on the song ‘Streaky’. I would recommend this album to people who want to broaden their horizons musically, though if you’re new to Death grips definitely don’t start with this album. Maybe check out ‘Exmilitary’ or ‘The Money Store’.


Quality: 9.5/10

Level of surrealism: 8/10

Total: 9/10