Death Grips did what they do best, they shocked, surprised and depending on who you talk to, disappointed their fans. Sacramento-based experimental rap trio Death Grips released their newest album Government Plates for free without any warning or prerelease hype. Releasing an album like this is dangerous and although it’s a welcomed change from the pattern controversy surrounding Death Grips releases, they again managed to give their fans a spectacle before anyone even listened to the first track.
The album starts with a track that sticks to the traditional Death Grips formula; The track 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 is bright and interesting in that it’s seemingly separated into the production and vocals. MC Ride’s punchy syncopated vocals come through as harsh as ever on this track and the segregation of vocals and production is effective in making the listener separately analyze each component on its own. As the album progresses, the vocal performance by MC Ride begins to lose it’s luster as many recycled samples of MC Ride are used in place of new recordings.
The production by Zach Hill is the obvious star of the album but as the album progresses, it becomes less and less interesting. Repetition leads to boredom and MC Ride’s performance feels phoned in due to incorporation of reused vocal samples.
The single off of the album the album, Birds, is one of the highlights of this release because of its uniqueness. Again, production is king here but with this track Death Grips seems to be taking a turn into experimental electronic and starts to shy away from rap. MC Ride’s dazed rapping over the twangy winding prediction makes for a really interesting experience.
The rest of the album presents some interesting ideas but never seems to solidify them. The tracks Feels like a Wheel, Im Overflow and Big House show an evolution of the Death Grips sound but it feels as if these could be better ideas if they were given time to develop into something complete.
The title track Government Plates again, shows a shift of tone to a more electronic sound and it has some very interesting moments but it feels like it is overstaying its welcome because the track fails to progress into anything more than background music.
Government Plates is more production focused release than the previous Death Grips releases and this alone isn’t a negative aspect because Death Grips has always has had interesting production. Death Grips are known for their abrasiveness and they don’t fail to deliver it on this release but the abrasiveness on its own falls short without the support of the other things that have made Death Grips so interesting. This release has its moments and fans of the group will enjoy listening to the progression of Death Grip’s sound. Government Plates is a solid release but above all else, it leaves listeners anticipating what the group will do next.