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November 20, 2012
Sacramento's Death Grips: Spin's 'Artist of the Year'

Sacramento's Death Grips were named Spin magazine's "artist of the year" on Tuesday, capping a tumultuous year for the brash and critically acclaimed punk-rap group.

Death Grips' recent past includes being dropped by Epic records, scrapping a hotly anticipated tour, releasing two albums -- including one without the approval of its record label and a very NSFW album cover -- and re-mixing a track for Bjork.

Spin magazine's accompanying feature on Death Grips details the band's humble beginnings, including frontman Stefan "MC Ride" Burnett's longtime stint as a busser at Paesano's restaurant, to its very public fight with Epic records.

While the Bee interviewed Death Grips engineer and keyboardist Andy Morin, who may or may not be in the band anymore, the group's been notoriously anti-media with most matters. Death Grips also haven't been afraid to irk its own fans. The group bailed out of a planned spring tour, which was to have kicked off at Sacramento's Electronic Music Festival in May, and left many ticketholders very bummed.

Across the blogosphere, music fans debated whether Death Grips were too hungry for publicity stunts, or a great band that's simply uncompromising with its artistry.

While Death Grips doesn't have Jennifer Lopez or Ozzy Osbourne as labelmates anymore, the band is still moving forward for its music. That's good news, given that this Sacramento group has recorded some of the most cutting-edge and in-your-face music seen around this city in years. You have to hold on tight when Zach Hill's bashing his drum kit like an over-caffeinated Buddy Rich over a torrent of samples (Jane's Addiction, Black Flag, Charles Manson, Salt-n-Pepa etc.) and MC Ride's beastly rhyme flow.

Now, how about making up that scrapped show from the Sacramento Electronic Music Festival already?

-- Chris Macias

Sacramento musicians making national, world marks

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