Profile: MC Ride

Profile: MC Ride

Black History Month

James Boyt

Stefan Burnett via Billboard

In the world of alternative hip hop, rarely does a name create as much buzz as that of MC Ride, known for forming the critically acclaimed Sacramento band, Death Grips. It’s well known that Death Grips has a polarizing sound that offends some and gains the attraction of others; what’s not as commonly talked about is who MC Ride is offstage and what motivates him to make the music he does.

MC Ride is the stage name of Stefan Burnett, who scarcely speaks on his personal life but has spoken slightly on the history of the band, and the messages he wants to send through the music. Burnett was born and raised in Sacramento and has always been interested in becoming an artist. He studied visual art at Hampton University, but dropped out to pursue a career in painting and rapping with his brother in a group named Fyre. When this project was cancelled after his brother’s marriage, Burnett turned to his neighbor, Zach Hill, and Death Grips was formed.

Death Grips via All Things Loud

Death Grips gained critical attention early on, releasing their self-titled project and the Exmilitary mixtape in early 2011; soon after joined Epic Records. They have since had four albums chart in the Billboard 200, and have been praised by Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and countless other music reviewers. Burnett’s songs focus on his own outlook on society and the problems that surround him, honing in on issues and experiences with violence, paranoia, drug use, occultism and sex. He generally takes an extremely bizarre look at the subjects described in his music, making everything feel alien through use of heavy metaphors and wordplay, coupled by screeching vocals and heavy effects. The intense attention to detail in both lyricism and sound design show that he is incredibly passionate about his craft. Each song released is full of cryptic lyrics and is densely layered with drums, bass and synthesizer. Despite being about as untraditional as music can possibly be, the work of MC Ride is undeniably art and is well respected within the music community. Death Grips continue to break new ground, lyrically and instrumentally, with every new release and I cannot wait to see what Ride has in store for the future.