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Podcast Review: The Needledrop: How To Get Into Death Grips

Dominick Rabrun joins Anthony Fantano for some intense chat.

Spenser Harrison

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Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to choose a single episode of a podcast about music to review . The choices were electric and interesting. Check out all the podcast reviews by browsing our music section

The internet’s self-described “busiest music nerd,” Anthony Fantano, brings on visual artist and fellow YouTuber, Dominick Rabrun for an intriguing discussion on what it is that draws each of them to the experimental hip-hop trio, Death Grips.

Given my enjoyment of Fantano’s music reviews on his YouTube channel, I expected his knack for articulation to come through in a similar fashion in this podcast. However, I wondered how different of an experience it would be considering the podcast is nearly 90 minutes (several times longer than even his lengthiest reviews) and his reviews seldom include anyone other than him. 

However, the two were able to keep the conversation engaging for the length of the episode, and it never felt like it veered extremely far off topic. Fantano does a great job of tying his questions in, while also letting the conversation flow naturally. Both he and Rabrun’s passion for the band is apparent and this makes for consistently interesting points, as well as some comedic observations and stories. 

One moment that stands out as being especially funny is Fantano’s response to Rabrun’s mention of his friends not listening to the band saying “Honestly, I think ‘my friends don’t listen to Death Grips’ is a phrase that most Death Grips fans could probably get tattoed on their fucking backs.”

As I listened back to the episode off of my laptop, only one criticism came to mind.  It would have been nice to have had some song clips whenever specific tracks were mentioned, especially since the purpose of the episode was helping listeners get into Death Grips.  This would may have caused copyright issues, but if it were possible, it would have been nice to have had the extra information.

This lack of song excerpts did not impede my enjoyment much, as I was familiar with almost all of the songs mentioned, but for those unfamiliar it would have been helpful.

Otherwise, it was a very informative and engaging guide to the band thanks to the passion of everyone involved and the level-headed conversation.

Death Grips are a very polarizing and complex group, and it would be easy for someone discussing them to have such strong feelings about them that they possibly overlook other viewpoints.  But the podcast was very thorough in providing plenty of information and perspectives, making for a well-rounded and effective portrayal of the group.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Spenser Harrison is a multi-instrumentalist and writer from Bowling Green, Kentucky. His eclectic musical taste ranges from mainstream pop to the most obscure offerings of the underground.

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