Death Grips accomplished more in four years than most artists do in a lifelong career. That might sound like hyperbole, but right out of the gate, the group formed by Hella‘s Zach Hill and his neighbor MC Ride (along with producer Flatlander), was deemed “the only punk band left” and “music’s new villains.” The band broke up via Facebook post on July 2, reminding their “truest fans,” to “please stay legend.”

Detractors threw their harsh electronic sound under the “dubstep” umbrella, but really it was far too creatively aggressive to fit under an existing sub-genre label. Between stays in bad Sacto neighborhoods, they’ve been homeless, as well as lived at Chateau Marmont for two months off an Epic Records advance, but were dropped when they self-leaked a penis-covered major label debut along with some professional dirty laundry – a move which got them the most legally-downloaded album in the world, beating the competition fourfold. And then there’s the whole no-show performance-art thing:

Music drifts I have no home

Choose this life, you’re on your own

More importantly, they revolutionized rap. Paranoid, violently hateful, anti-money and anti-pop themes combined with a compatibilist-Kamikaze and self-sufficient philosophy atop their trademark fucked up sound. Outside of an obscure EP, our very first introduction to the band (Exmilitary‘s opener “Beware“) starts with a Charles Manson sample about “Fox Studios being a bigger jail than [he’d] just gotten out of,” considering that “running the underworld” gave him all the resources he needed – an oddly fitting setup to Ride’s anthem: [LISTEN]

I close my eyes and seize it

I clench my fists and beat it

I light my torch and burn it/I am the beast I worship

Not that Ride ever feigned invincibility – he just always confronted enemies head on, be they external, internal, imagined, or an ambiguous combination thereof. “No Love,” “Deep Web,” and “Come Up and Get Me” particularly see Ride at his most “noised:” [LISTEN]

Call me crazy but I swear my line’s been tapped

In my glass house prepared for surprise attack

Realized I held the blade inside my back

Omega megalomaniac

In my glass house prepared for surprise attack

Realized I held the blade inside my back

All these lyrics provide an insight to the group that basically predicted this dissolution. Hill’s publicly stated multiple times that he’s burnt out from a lifetime of touring, and Ride’s too reclusive to be around people, much less play the interview game. Their whole goal was to create from the (social, if not physical) safety of their home, and release it to the world – inciting a live ruckus from the listener, instead of displaying one themselves.

The writing was on the wall. The lazy suicide note “shows,” the tours canceled in favor of prolific album releases – these guys hate either traveling, playing live, being around people, or all three. And if you didn’t catch that in their interviews, you should have figured it out from their songs: [LISTEN]

Can’t tell hell in my head

Thirteenth bell am I dead

Or in asylum pill force fed

Lyin’ to myself all by myself

Strapped down to my bed

Tongue cut out the mouth of reason

And chucked off the river’s edge

Think fast, is it tear gas or fear masked

By figments of my fragmented mind

Who’s my enemy, them or me?

Step to me and you’ll die

Grand delusions magnified/

Fuck the truth wastes my time

It’s all good bet what’s that

Footsteps on the stairs

Never could rest they’re always there

Who are they I don’t care

I just know they’re tryin’ ta X me

Give a fuck, come up and get me

As with all aggressive music, it’s not for everybody, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a genre more in need of a kick in the ass than rap. If Macklemore‘s omnipresence alone didn’t prove that, then decades of recycled bitches ‘n’ bling lyrics in the Top 40 did. Hell, Death Grips even revitalized the mainstream when they gave Kanye West a sound he could rip off and butcher while he was playing Jesus.

Relative bloated carcass of an artist Trent Reznor was none too pleased by the breakup’s effect on his upcoming tour, while Fun Fun Fun Fest took a more humorous approach to the repeated jilts by the defunct group. Regardless of your stance, they were possibly the single most boundary pushing artists on the planet during their tenure.

Death Grips’ farewell note:

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.