Released November 13th, 2013
13 months, 13 days and 13 hours after the controversial release of last years NO LOVE DEEP WEB, Death Grips dropped Government Plates onto the internet for free. This time however there was no prior warning that the album was in the works, no media fanfare surrounding battles with Sony and certainly no phallus adorning the cover. This time, much like with their debut mixtape Exmilitary, Death Grips are allowing their new album to speak for itself.
So what does the new album have to say for itself? Well honestly, nothing that its older siblings haven’t said before. If nothing else, Government Plates could be described as the quintessential Death Grips record. By decreasing the running time to 35 minutes they have seemingly curated the most distinctive aspects of their sound- complex, primal drums, dissonant yet catchy hooks and of course MC Ride’s inimitable flow- and created something like a Death Grips for Beginners. Tracks such as previous single ‘Birds’ or the opening track (with a name far too long to print) exemplify this culmination of their albums, and even demonstrate a newfound accessibility beyond their hooks, with MC Ride’s restrained, playful verses in ‘Birds’ marking a welcome change in tone.
Ultimately though, these factors act as both the album’s primary strengths and its biggest shortcomings. 35 minutes is a great album length, but it leaves no room for filler, and Government Plates certainly has its fair share throughout its second half. Moreover, whilst the choice to build on existing ideas is a welcome one, it has led to a decrease in new ones. For a band that have so far provided a challenge with each album, this one feels like a bit of a stagnation.
Much like Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Government Plates feels like a waypoint, a chance to reflect on all that has preceded it and push those sounds to their limit. Unlike Yeezy’s magnum opus however, this release doesn’t turn the past into something greater than the sum of its parts. However, Kanye subsequently seemed to take a leaf out of Death Grip’s with the dark, industrial sounds of Yeezus earlier this year. Who knows, perhaps Death Grips will return the favour.