Did Death Grips Shoot Themselves in the Foot by Leaking Their Album?

Following the disintegration of electroclash hardcore hip-hop outfit Death Grip's relationship with their label, Epic Records, has been as drama-filled as a reality TV show.

It seems to have started when Epic pushed back the due date for a follow-up to their debut, The Money Store, so Death Grips leaked their second album, NO LOVE DEEP WEB, without the label's knowledge. The band stated, "The label will be hearing the album for the first time with you."

Adding insult to injury, the cover art for DEEP WEB was the title written in Sharpie on a bulging cock. The band's website was shut down soon afterward (it's unclear if it's either due to the label or the surge of traffic) and soon they released confidential infringement emails detailing how pissed Epic was over the leak. Predictably, Epic dropped Death Grips like a quadriplegic juggler drops chainsaws, saying, "Effective immediately, we are working to dissolve our relationship with Death Grips. We wish them well."

But despite a few similarities, Death Grips isn't exactly Nine Inch Nails. Maybe you remember back in '07, when Trent Reznor squabbled with his label, Universal Records, whom were selling Year Zero for $35 in Australia. Pissed, Reznor told his fans to steal his music, personally helping them download it by uploading the albums himself. Likewise, Universal kicked Reznor off their catalog, but the Nine Inch Nails frontman would later release Ghosts I-IV and The Slip, which made him millions more than he'd ever made with Halos 1 through 25.

Yet, Reznor has recently come crawling back to major labels for his and his wife's side project, How To Destroy Angels, telling David Byrne (of all people) that having a full PR team to get his music across the Atlantic was worth cutting into his profits. Why Reznor doesn't just hire a PR team himself is another issue, but itt makes you wonder if Death Grips have transcended shooting themselves in the foot and blown off their legs entirely. Furthermore, they won't be getting the success of a Ghosts or Slip, because Epic won't count DEEP WEB as part of their Recording Commitment.

I sent the band an email via Facebook, asking "Was Epic really mistreating you? If it's all about an album release, why didn't you just wait?" They didn't respond, so I can only speculate. Death Grips did cancel their summer tour to polish off NO LOVE DEEP WEB, but it appears that was their choice, not Epic's. I guess losing the money from that and then being told to wait six months or more would annoy me, but not so much that I would breach contracts, post confidential letters, flaunt my dick or steal from myself. Or maybe I would, if it were all a PR stunt, as some have speculated, but this tantrum doesn't have the finesse of an attention-grabbing release.

Hard to say this, but it looks like Death Grips is the one in the wrong here. It's not like they were being censored (the album cover for The Money Store is delightfully just as NSFW as NO LOVE DEEP WEB), it doesn't seem like they were ripped off and now, they don't have quite as much muscle as they could for promoting their tunes. This explains why there are dollars bills tumbling around in a dryer in the video above, not Jacksons or Benjamins. Granted, they'll probably make it up with their ongoing tour, but doubtfully as easily.

Or am I missing something? Email me at troy.farah@gmail.com.

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