Sacramento hip-hop group Death Grips leaked their own highly-anticipated album Jenny Death, onto YouTube last week to much excitement. The album offers an aggressive industrial punk rap sound, with the enraged, often guttural vocal styles of Stefan Burnett a.k.a MC Ride.
The album’s lyrics examine the concepts of fame, celebrity, and performing. It takes a bitter look at the idea of entertaining others, and the ultimate futility of making music to express oneself. In the view of Jenny Death, true self-expression is impossible. This concept is placed in the forefront on the opening track, “I Break Mirrors With My Face In The United States”. Ride raps, “I don’t care about real life/Feel just like I look to you/Gawk at me all you see is you”. He states the message of the song,plain and clear. The perception of the artist created by the song, and then by the listener, distorts the person making the song. Their music is built on aggression, strange beats, and highly physical vocal delivery.
Any attempt to “break” this mirror, this new perception of self, results in harm to oneself. It’s a vicious cycle. In order to force a new perception, one needs to destroy what created the old. In the song, MC Ride has tried to destroy the mirrors, to escape the reflection he sees. But in the allegory of destroying the mirror with his face, he hurts himself. Physically, the act leaves behind blood and skin. Shards of broken glass, chunks of the reflection, cut into the face. The reflection and reflected have pieces of each other embedded into themselves, making them more alike. MC Ride can no longer “care about real life”, because he can’t escape from the idea of him.
It’s reminiscent of when Leonard Nimoy wrote “I Am Not Spock”. Due to the popularity of the character, he could never detach himself from Spock. People would see Nimoy, and think “Spock”. Years later, he would write “I Am Spock”. Once is aligned with a character or persona, it’s hard to detach from that persona. Stefan Burnett fears that he will always be MC Ride. That everything after this will be compared to Death Grips. And that’s just the first track of the album.