Let’s take a moment and review some of the antics this group has caused in the past year and a half. They single handily won over an entire audience with The Money Store, which received worldly acclaim, and then gave the middle finger to the same record company by releasing No Love Deep Web without their permission. Remember the Sharpie covered penis? Yes, that was Death Grips. Following this, they began a massive tour, which they cancelled before to release No Love Deep Web, and then ultimately cancelled the SAME tour again. They didn’t even bother to show up to the Lollapalooza after show either, which received a lot of coverage as well. Now the hardcore hip-hop group released a new album, titled Government Plates, to the surprise of everyone in the music community. Coming across as a logical progression to No Love Deep Web, it combines the sound of the prior with the structure of the universally acclaimed The Money Store.
Now I’m a Death Grips fan. There’s no denying that I enjoy their music, but I went off for a few months without hearing a single song. It may have been the overkill with The Money Store, or the fact that I wish No Love Deep Web sounded like the previous album. It felt like getting back with an ex when I started the stream of the new album. From the beginning of Government Plates, I realized the group was back in business. The album opens with the horribly titled, “you might think he loves you for your money but i know what he really loves you for its your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat”. Yes, that is the title, and it’s all lowercase. The first noise on the entire album is a crash of something glass, and then follows the high pitched ringing that echoes the massive bass hits that seem to be a reoccurring theme on the album. It’s arguably the best song on Government Plates, and the worst title in music history.
Follows this is “Anne Bonny”, which is a great throwback to The Money Store. What this album does so well is it sets itself apart from any Death Grips album by being plain odd. There’s a lot more of MC Rides screaming, and the electronics on every song come across as extremely eerie, but dance-able. “Two Heavens” opens with a rotating synth chord, but then a double bass break comes in with a distorted voice. It’s something I can headbang too, but also sit in the dark and squirm until it’s over. Flatlander, the noise specialist in Death Grips, really steps it up for this album. He doesn’t try anything particularly new, but every track contains an immense amount of bass this time around so I can’t complain.
Zach Hill as well lets loose for this album. He’s pretty much given the OK to try anything, and that can be seen on “This Is Violence Now (Dont get me wrong)”. Over top the preset drum machine, Hill’s chaotic drum fills are fixated to the song like a metal-heads dream. Listening to Government Plates gave me a whole new perspective of the man’s talent, and reading that he was self-taught woes me every-time. It does make sense though, because he plays like he’s feeling the beat with his body, hitting everything in sight, but it does work well. He overplays, but in only the best way possible.
Now the overplaying can be tied into the reason for the free release. It proves that Death Grips aren’t in it for the business, but for the sake of a creative outlet. I don’t know any other ventures Flatlander and MC Ride are in, but Zach has had a resume full of past bands ranging from Boredoms to Hella to Wavves. The group seems to be a release from the world around them, and them allowing us to experience it seems to be a hard thing for them to do. MC Ride does hold back on this album, but he allows the other two members to stand out. His highlight does come in with “Birds”, which has some of the groups most cryptic and eerie lyrics possible. “I’ve got a black hat/ It might live,” is bad enough to pass up, but with the minimalist mess that surrounds it adds enough of an effect to show that lines like these have an effect.
Government Plates is the oddest release yet by Death Grips. The whole idea of them releasing a brand new album for free makes me wonder what their intentions are. Just to note how far they’ve came, when they released this album on their own website, it crashed within 30 seconds. I wouldn’t be surprised if they meant for that to happen, or they meant for the insane buzz that surrounded their no-show at Lollapalooza. What Government Plates shows us is an honest look at what Death Grips wants to do. They want to let loose, they want to have fun, and they don’t give a fuck. If people call Miley Cyrus “punk”, just wait until they know about Death Grips.