By Brendan S.
With the recent Death Grips-inspired hacking of a state website in Thailand, normative power of the Sacramento-based experimental electro-punk-rap group has been awakened once again. A musical unit among the preeminent subcultural sounds of grassroots journalism and anti-authoritarian communities alike, Death Grips and internationalism are two concepts bound to merge. Why not now?
The Thai state got thoroughly cyber noided on Thursday after Thai hackers changed the homepage of the Constitutional Court of Thailand’s website to a link for the Death Grips “Guillotine” music video, also changing the site’s title to “Kangaroo Court.”
This was not an isolated act. In early 2020, protests erupted against the Thai state, calling for an end to the monarchy’s many authoritarian policies. The country-wide mass demonstrations led by the democratic socialist Future Forward Party lasted over a year and still continue today, albeit less intensively.
The almost 800-year-old monarchy of Thailand has never been popular among the Thai anti-authoritarian bloc, particularly those on the left of the political spectrum and members of the rising Future Forward Party. Future Forward emerged after its predecessor Move Forward was banned by the Constitutional Court in February 2020, a move that many deemed a ‘judicial coup’ from the Thai state’s monarchy-driven judicial system.
Almost two years later, the Constitutional Court has ruled on Wednesday that protest leaders were calling to overthrow the government, signaling that many who participated in the 2020-2021 Thai protests may be at risk of arrest once again. This is precisely what earned the title of “Kangaroo Court” on the Constitutional Court’s website on Thursday, kindly provided by Thai hackers.
Following the development, Thai Death Grips fans flooded the r/DeathGrips subreddit and found solidarity with thousands of fans across the world applauding their use of Death Grips as a normative tool against the state’s repressive monarchy. Just like that, Death Grips has become a catalyst of international solidarity, at least momentarily, and at least with Thai anti-authoritarians.
What the fuck does ‘noided’ mean, how does it intersect with anti-authoritarian internationalism?
‘Noided’ is a term frequently found emitting from the mouths of Death Grips fanatics. In its denotative simplicity, it is just a shortened version of ‘paranoid.’ As it pertains to anti-authoritarian tendencies in the Death Grips audience, however, the term begins to bear more nuance. From this lens, ‘noided’ also refers to awareness for state surveillance, ruling class absolutism, and expansion of hegemonic power structures.
Empowered by the global environment of the Arab Spring, Occupy movement, and other mass protests against regimes in the early 2010s, the anti-statist spirit of Death Grips’ 2012 album “The Money Store” welds deeply into the fabric of anti-authoritarian internationalism, and has clearly been picked up by radicalized urban Thais somewhere along the way.
Death Grips’ appeal to anti-authoritarians can be found in a large portion of their tracks, but above all in the 2012 hit “I’ve Seen Footage,” where the term ‘noided’ was popularized. In a dense maze of MC Ride’s lyrical escapades, the song takes direct shots police statism and makes heavy use of Foucauldian allusions to state surveillance. “I've seen footage, I stay noided, I've seen footage” is easily one of the most distinguishable, classic Death Grips lines in the entirety of the group’s catalogue. Lines in the track also seem to criticize mainstream media as a catalyst of popular apathy toward power structures.
With the emergence of independent grassroots media and mass publishing of state-exposing footage that mainstream outlets don’t want to get anywhere near, “The Money Store” has established itself as one of the chief albums of grassroots journalism, and certainly one of The Renegade. Death Grips and exposure of state fuckery go together like Abiy Ahmed and genocide.
Noided Thai hackers chose the music video for “Guillotine” to decorate the Constitutional Court’s site on Thursday, comically plastering MC Ride’s upper body across the homepage. Another classic track targeting state use of force over the general population, the song’s symbolism fits, as monarchy and guillotines have historically not been a rare thing. As of November 2021, the Thai state not only retains the death penalty, but applies it to nonviolent acts such as drug trafficking.
A kangaroo court and its guillotine, the Thai state fusion of military with monarchy has created a blade which constantly hovers over the neck of the Thai general population. The Thai guillotine, a national gag rule enforced through a duopoly of generals and noble elitists. Its kangaroo court, the Constitutional Court.
This symbolism is part of what unites anti-authoritarians under the sentiment of Death Grips. Indeed if Death Grips can power a Thai anti-authoritarian resistance, it can power all anti-authoritarian resistance. Death Grips and internationalism go together like MC Ride and “Guillotine” on the homepage of the Thai Constitutional Court.
International solidarity has an inherent home in Death Grips, a vehicle in Death Grips. As a grassroots outlet The Renegade geeks over Death Grips, and you should too.
Have you seen footage? Are you noided yet?