Death Grips: Epic Fail

Californian hip-hop trio Death Grips have been dumped by Epic after the band released their second album on the internet without the label’s permission.  ‘No Love, Deep Web’ appeared as a free download on 1st October, along with a statement claiming that the label had refused to commit to a firm release date.

The cover art released alongside the album featured an erect penis with the album title written on it in black marker.

Image via

Yesterday, the band published email correspondence from Epic representatives which expressed how “upset and disappointed” the label were with the band’s actions. Last night, Epic issued the following statement:

Epic Records is a music first company that breaks new artists. That is our mission and our mandate. 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.

It’s an admirable attempt to cover their embarrassment, but it’s quite obvious that this is yet another massive blow to an already seriously wounded recording industry. Creativity and mass marketing have always been uncomfortable bedfellows, but until the internet became a viable means of self-promotion, record companies wielded absolute power over artists. If they wanted their music to be heard, pleasing those who controlled the means of distribution was vital. Even if it meant suppressing the very creativity that put them there in the first place.

Their attempt to discredit Death Grips’ actions is logical, but they cannot seriously expect artists to abide by the same rules today, when the means of promoting and distributing a product is at their fingertips. Yes, Death Grips broke an agreement by releasing their material without permission, but did Epic seriously expect them to sit around and wait until the label felt like releasing the album “next year sometime“? That might work with Jessica Simpson, but one would have hoped that at least one Epic executive might have noticed they were not dealing with artists whose musical careers came of the back of a show called ‘Newlyweds’.

Epic were out manoeuvred here. They were more than happy to sign Death Grips when they believed the “marketing and publicity stunts” they refer to in their statement would have been under their control and exploited for their benefit, but they relied on an outdated music industry conceit to keep the band in check and got burned for it.

No sympathy for the devil here.

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