Release Date: Nov 13, 2013
Record label: Harvest
Genre(s): Rap, Underground Rap
Attempts to frame digitization within a precise definition abound, and none of them are particularly compelling. The most obvious tactic is to equate it with its physical substrate, to affirm that the digital is “everything that has been developed by, or can be reduced to, the binary — that is bits consisting of 0s and 1s” (Miller and Horst, 2013). But while unquestionably true, this encapsulation is so massively broad as to be inconsequential for how the person on the street might (re-)conceive of the digital age, including its social and political transformations.
Whenever Death Grips get accused of bad intentions, they’re usually guilty of bad judgment. It’s easy to understand why people get offended by their dick moves, both literal and figurative. But for anyone invested in the group as an artistic entity, all of this retro and regressive Punk 101 chicanery serves as a distraction or a depletion from music that derives a purer shock value by sounding like it has no real precedent.
It may not feature an erect penis on the cover, but Death Grips’ latest is easily their most abrasive release yet. Seemingly dropped out of nowhere, ‘Government Plates’ is a sloppy lobotomy of hip-hop focused on provoking fear and intrigue. Picking up where the self-leaked ‘NO LOVE DEEP WEB’ left off, ‘Government Plates’ is almost impenetrable upon first listen.
Sometimes Sacramento doom-rap act Death Grips seem like a lavish comedy creation, or one of Brass Eye creator Chris Morris’ parodies. Here is a band who released last year’s ‘No Love Deep Web’ album with a picture of drummer Zach Hill’s erect penis on the cover, who deliberately planned a no-show at a Lollapalooza aftershow this August, and in whose name a statement was released about a movie they were making about male prostitution, with Twilight’s Robert Pattinson (the band subsequently denied responsibility for this). Yet in spite of their ludicrousness, or maybe because of it, Hill, Stefan ‘MC Ride’ Burnett and producer Andy Morin (aka Flatlander) remain so exciting.
We’ve talked a lot about Death Grips this year. Zack Hill’s upcoming film which may or may not star Robert Patterson, their ongoing label wars, and of course the continuous no-shows at festivals and smaller venues. But we really haven’t talked about Death Grips the Band recently. Sure they released the utterly confounding “Birds” earlier in the year but the conversation soon turned back to DG’s nonmusical shenanigans.
With their volatile brew of riotous rhythmic assaults, glitch-heavy electro dissonance, and shout-rapped lyrics that sound like they've been culled from the darkest corners of the Internet's most obscene comments section, few contemporary acts have been more polarizing than Sacramento noise-rap trio Death Grips. To say nothing of the very public label disputes, graphic album covers, canceled tours, and no-shows that have threatened to overshadow the music itself. This is, as frontman MC Ride assures over an earsplitting fire-alarm synth in the opening moments of the band's third album, Government Plates, “hard shit.
Review Summary: Unshackled.At this point The Money Store seems so sugary, so long ago. Since balancing on the tips of the music world’s tongues, Death Grips has come quite a ways from their first offering of 2012. Yeah The Money Store was a glitchy, industrial mess of digitized noise, but at its core the urgency was structured, and for all its boisterous eruptions and plastering drums it was held in place by its greasy hooks and MC Ride’s authoritative, throaty statements.
Sacramento noise vandals Death Grips pull the rug out with another impromptu free LP. Thirteen months ago they torpedoed their relationship with Epic when they leaked No Love Deep Web, a slightly underwhelming LP of digitally mangled hip-hop starring Zack Hill’s raging cock on the cover. Since then they seem to have short-changed everyone who’s shown an interest in them, missing live dates and causing fans to trash their equipment once they realised the Bottom Lounge stage would never be filled.
"I cop this attitude all the time" intones Stefan Burnett (a.k.a MC Ride) with irony on "Birds" – a song that, no surprise, is more about raised middle fingers than ornithology. It's the closest thing to a ballad on the latest samizdat album by the West Coast avant-punk rap ranters, easily the group's most mercurial record yet. "Feels Like A Wheel" is bad-trip club music, all razored verbiage over whiplash beats; "Whatever I Want (Fuck Who's Watching)" is six minutes of extreme EDM no-fuck-giving.
This past Wednesday, Death Grips re-emerged from the underground lair they retreated to after skipping several live shows and summer festival appearances to drop an unexpected new album, Government Plates. Unsurprisingly, MC Ride (aka Stefan Burnett), drummer/producer Zach Hill, and keyboardist/producer Andy Morin eschewed a traditional release for their usual online channels — streams, a free download on Soundcloud, and on YouTube, where each of the 11 songs got its own video. We assembled a crack team of CoS staffers, as well as some friends from Dead End Hip Hop, The Needle Drop, and RedEye Chicago for a roundtable discussion of the album.
For a while it was easy to start wondering if the wheels hadn't fallen off Death Grips' Mad Max-style blood-encrusted survival bus. Almost exactly a year ago they unceremoniously leaked their third album to the internet as a response to their major label Epic wanting to delay its release. Death Grips then went and published private correspondence from the label, which unsurprisingly led to the band being swiftly dropped.
opinion byBRENDAN FRANK Death Grips thrive on impulsiveness, but it so often seems like outright chaos that it can be hard to tell what they’re really after. What we do know is that they really don’t seem to enjoy being told what to do. All things being equal, autonomy seems to be their priority; they speak and act when they feel like it, and they do so without a filter.
Full disclosure is the plan on Throwing Muses’ first album since 2003: “Purgatory Paradise,” a 32-song album released, in its deluxe version, with a 64-page hardcover book from HarperCollins. Kristin Hersh, the band’s songwriter, singer and guitarist, impressionistically details the makings ….
On Wednesday, Death Grips’ new album was dropped without warning on the internet, and according to its ID3 tags, Government Plates is a rock & roll album. This isn’t entirely untrue. The first track borrows its title (“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”) from Bob Dylan’s stomping 12-bar blues anthem; MC Ride’s lyrics have little in common with hip-hop’s traditional raconteurie and bluster, hovering instead somewhere between poetic Imagism and shouting grindcore frenzy.
In the field of heavy electronica, it is a tour de force, and also an empty cackle. It is a thing of live-wire verve and grim low-end hysteria, as mocking, and as cruel, as it is completely bad ass. It is almost peerlessly exhilarating; the word is ‘searing’. The opening track from Government Plates – the new mix-tape from Sacramento rap act Death Grips – is quite brilliant.