Death Grips’ third studio album and fourth project was an absolute mess, but in the best kind of way. They took off any remaining shackles they may have had and did exactly what they wanted to do, even if that meant it wasn’t going to be for everyone.
Released on 13th November 2013, Death Grips weren’t hanging around when it came to following up No Love Deep Web and were now fully fledged front runners of the experimental hip-hop genre, so the pressure was on to surprise the fans with something new and fresh. Well, they sure as hell did that with Government Plates.
The first song is literally called You Might Think He Loves You For Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You For It’s Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat. Yep, that is the genuine title of the opening track of this album; and it is just as insane as you would suspect. The start sounds like a siren going off but once Ride grabs your attention it turns into a distorted punk rock anthem with incredible drum beats courtesy of Zach Hill and demonised lyrical content from the sonically bonkers MC Ride.
Following that with Anne Bonny and Two Heavens confirms that Death Grips were the absolute masters of starting an album correctly, laying all their cards down on the table from the get-go and telling the audience exactly what they were in for. Anne Bonny has some of the best production of the group’s discography with those wacky electronic space-like synth lines and this is made only more apparent by the surprisingly rhythmic vocal delivery of MC Ride.
You really got the impression that this album was all about the here and now (of when it was recorded of course), there was no inkling of nostalgia or looking into the future here; instead opting for fear factor of the present and letting the listener know what is going on around them. Just listen to Whatever I Want (Fuck Who’s Watching) and tell me that isn’t the archetypal experimental modern day masterpiece, it’s nuts but truly encapsulates the modern society we live in, saturated by noise and people judging your every move.
The crown for best song has to go to Birds, which is four minutes and 38 seconds of sheer unexplainable madness. With the uttering of a simple “fuck you” from MC Ride, the beat transitions from something dark and grunge to a melancholy single chord guitar instrumental, it sounds incredible as Ride lists how many Birds he can see. It is believed that Robert Pattinson (yep, Edward from Twilight) plays the guitar on this song and that truly might be the weirdest crossover of all time.
The negative with Government Plates is that for the first time in the group’s career, I got the impression that there were filler tracks and not an actual direction behind every single song. Although the filler isn’t great (yes I am talking about Feels Like a Wheel and I’m Overflow) compared to the rest, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily poor songs, they just struggle to weigh up alongside the rest.