Death Grips – Government Plates
As the year is slowly coming to a close, it was only natural Sacramento’s very own “Kings of Experimental Rap” Death Grips make headlines once again. For the past months, fans of the trio have been outraged at various show cancellations and false concert dates. However, all the hatred and disappointment evaporated like thin air as they dropped their third studio album, Government Plates, for free and unannounced. They have used this tactic before with The Money Store and NOLOVEDEEPWEB, but is Government Plates really worth its praise?
Government Plates takes what Death Grips is known for and evolves it. The hard-hitting, bass filled instrumentals are still there, so is the violent pounding of steel drums and MC Rides aggressive vocals. The biggest change seems to be the channel through which the bands aggression is transmitted. Sanity can be questioned as MC Ride violently yells lyrics like a manic man being tortured in “You Might Think He Loves For Your Money.” Other lyrics are distorted and pitch shifted so dramatically that the anger of a grown man sounds like a midget yelling up to a giant, like in “Two Heavens.” It’s almost as this album as a whole is a view into the psyche of the band and their opinion of the world. To keep it short, it isn’t positive.
Instrumentally speaking, this album offers hardly anything new or groundbreaking, something Death Grips had become known for with past releases. Half the songs sound as if they were meant to be part of other albums, and they just now got around to adding vocals to it. There is nothing wrong with this, but it just doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. The bass line in “You Might Think He Loves You For Your Money” is absolutely brilliant however. The other half are sporadic dance “hits” in bizarre time signature with MC Ride vocals sampled incessantly over the song. This is seen in “This Is Violence Now (Don’t Get Me Wrong),” “Feels Like A Wheel,” and title track “Government Plates.” These are just a few of them too. They all come after each other in the track listing, making the middle of this album extremely dull and repetitive.
The album’s lone single, “Birds,” uses all of the musical techniques of the album to create a truly unique piece. It utilizes the album’s over usage of sampling in a creative way, creating unique and catchy vocal tempos. The bass and drums hit hard and in synchronization with the harsh vocals. “Birds” also delivers a plethora of messages that give insight to MC Ride’s mind. The song’s hook is a slow building anger volcano waiting to blow. Right when it seems MC Ride is about to go off, the instrumental cuts and he delivers the powerful lyrics of the whole album.
Shortly after, the song continues in a calm manner, but you can’t help but be fixated on that one like It is a middle finger to everyone who wouldn’t leave them alone after the show cancellations. It is a middle finger to the media having to be in their business all the time, but most overall, it is a middle finger to all those who get in their way of making art in the form of music. Nothing is higher than creating music to them and they make their point once again here.
While the album overall isn’t horrible, it just seems dull for a Death Grips release. Half the album leaves you wanting something new, and the other half leaves you wishing you never heard it. It’s a lackluster album that surrounds arguably their best song to date, but not even that can save an album from mediocrity. Government Plates will no doubt be a hit amongst die-hard fans of the group who will praise anything they make that sounds “different.” However, if this is your first tango with Death Grips, as soon as you listen to The Money Store or NOLOVEDEEPWEB, you will quickly forget about anything you heard here. That is if you even make it through the whole album.