Less than one month after releasing their surprise LP Niggas on the Moon, experimental hip-hop crew Death Grips have broken up. The group posted a picture of their farewell message — written on a napkin — to their Facebook page. A representative for the group confirmed the band’s breakup to Rolling Stone.
“We are now at our best and so Death Grips is over. We have officially stopped. All currently scheduled live dates are canceled. Our upcoming double album The Powers That B will still be delivered worldwide later this year via Harvest/Third Worlds Records. Death Grips was and always has been a conceptual art exhibition anchored by sound and vision. Above and beyond a ‘band.’ To our truest fans, please stay legend.”
The group was scheduled to appear at the Pitchfork Festival on July 18th before opening for Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden on their upcoming tour beginning July 21st at Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre. A replacement for the group has yet to be announced and a representative for Live Nation was not immediately available. NIN frontman Trent Reznor, presumably speaking on the group’s split, tweeted Wednesday, “Sorry everyone… why would I have ever thought those dudes could keep it together?”
The organizers of Fun Fun Fun Fest, the Austin festival Death Grips was scheduled to play later this year, posted their own tongue-in-cheek response to the band’s breakup, mimicking the band’s prose. “We are now at our super best and so our relationship with Death Grips is finally over,” said the note, also written on a napkin.”We have decided to consciously uncouple forever, after being stood up twice at the altar, we had to look deep into our soul and ask if Death Grips really loves us or is capable of loving anyone, and the unfortunate answer is ‘no.'”
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The band recently enlisted Björk to appear on all of the tracks on Niggas on the Moon, chopping up her vocal samples as part of each track. Upon the album’s release, Björk said on Facebook, “I adore Death Grips and I am thrilled to be their ‘found object’! I have been lucky enough to hang and exchange music loves w/ them and witness them grow !! epic : onwards!!” Niggas on the Moon is the first disc of a planned double album, with the second part Jenny Death still scheduled for release.
“We recognized what we were doing was very unique but also very real and genuine and powerful, and it had the potential to connect with other people,” drummer Zach Hill told Rolling Stone in 2012. “We are doing a lot of things with music, and rap music, that people are still trying to wrap their heads around.”
Hill, producer Andy Morin (aka Flatlander) and Stefan Burnett (aka MC Ride) were all from Sacramento, though the band’s inception took place in New York. Hill and Morin created the sonic bedrock of the group while staying at a friend’s rehearsal space. “We stayed in that space for a week, basically slept in it, lived in it, and had some really interesting epiphanies out there,” Hill said. “So when we got back to Sacramento, we took all those tapes back and we were like, ‘Let’s fucking try this.'”
After adding Burnett, the band released the free online mixtape Exmilitary in 2011 before signing with Epic Records. It was a short-lived relationship. After releasing their debut album The Money Store in 2012, the label dropped the group after Death Grips released their second album No Love Deep Web for free months early without the label’s approval. At the time, the group claimed that Epic wanted to push back the release of No Love Deep Web and that they had yet to hear the album. “The label will be hearing the album for the first time with you,” they tweeted.
Death Grips claimed Epic shut down their site after they released the album and posted a confidential letter from Epic’s legal department on Facebook on October 31st, which they told Pitchfork was to prove their actions weren’t a series of publicity stunts.
“Epic Records is a music-first company that breaks new artists. That is our mission and our mandate,” the label said in a statement. “Unfortunately, when marketing and publicity stunts trump the actual music, we must remind ourselves of our core values. To that end, effective immediately, we are working to dissolve our relationship with Death Grips. We wish them well.”
The group posted their subsequent 11-song album Government Plates last year for free, a few days before No Love Deep Web received an official physical release. Niggas on the Moon and Jenny Death appear to be the group’s final releases.
“We’re always looking for natural rhythms and natural melodies,” Hill told Rolling Stone. “We know what our sound is, but as far as the process, it is always ever-changing. It’s just a natural evolution of where the group continues to go.”