Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Death Grips - Government Plates Review [First Reaction]

 Today, Wednesday November 13th, Death Grips, famed experimental Hip-Hop group known for their abrasive (that's an understatement) music and mysterious motives, continued on with their unpredictability today by releasing a full length album entitled Government Plates out of the blue. This move, as do many of their decisions, leads to equal amounts of scratched heads and unforgiving hype. Add to that the fact that they instantly included music videos, albeit extremely strange but what do you expect, to each song on their Youtube channel that I will include below. The internet has blown up and with a swift and quick move Death Grips is once again on everyone's radar after seemingly taking 2013 off. I am not going to review this album for many reasons, the main one being that I will not be able to correctly assign a score to it after any amount of time considering I once hated their previous works. So without further ado here are my first listen reactions, track by 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

Well lets just get the elephant out of the room before I even start the album, this track title. Come on, Death Grips. You really gonna start your album out like that, forcing everyone to know it and write it like us blogger's. I can almost guarantee you that this song will also have nothing to do with anything in that title either but I can't be sure, in fact I can never be sure with these guys.

 As typical with Death Grips I don't understand a single word lead singer MC Ride says, especially in that opening. I can only ever hear the word 'Fuck' after listening one time when it comes to him cause he damn sure says it a lot. The siren ringing at the beginning, followed by that hard hitting drumming tandem will really rattle some heads. This second verse is fierce and fast. I love the double rapping going on where Ride is rapping underneath Ride. The music just stops for some reason halfway through, only to have this weird bouncing synthesizers bounce off the three dimensional space that they've transformed this song into. The third verse might be even better than the second with Ride finally riding a beat, even if it is haphazardly. Considering the beat during that time isn't much more organized it's a rather impressive feat. And per typical, the song just ends. I was right, I don't think anything resembled that title above.

Anne Bonny

A strange opening none the less bursts quickly into a huge bass thump, followed by sonic synths that paddle back and forth between each other in rapid succession. I can already tell this album is going to be more synthetic and faster. The bass is really incredible, and once again I have no idea what Ride is saying. But wait, there's a chorus! And it's dope to with Ride repeating something over and over that I will know within a couple days. The breakdown of bombastic thumps that follows the chorus is intense and remarkable in its aggressiveness. Ride's rapping over this is some of his most abstract to date, being ripped out apart from him as if he's a computer machine as he voice simultaneously transforms to low ends and hints at high squeaks peek through the loudness. This song is loud. It's always hard to speak of Death Grips' music especially after one listen because the lyrics are all but indecipherable. Many feel that their lyrics are nothing more than yelling fodder but Ride is actually saying things that have meanings, at least on their previous 2 albums. Here I can't tell yet. Good song.

Two Heavens

Now this is a weird start to a Death Grips song. It sounds rather inviting. That is until Ride starts talking and calls me his bitch. A monotone alarm that voices itself once every second comes in to make this song much more haunting than previously thought. That is until it all drops out and our classic confused Death Grips once again starts up again, beginning a chorus that actually sounds like it includes another singer other than MC Ride. After the second verse starts it's tough to even consider this song Hip-Hop. Ride is talking in two word combinations, completely oft kilter, even though the song somehow manages to follow a fairly typical opening/chorus/verse/chorus/breakdown form. 

This Is Violence Now (Don't Get Me Wrong)

The most obvious opening statement Ride has ever made exclaiming "This is violence now!" before a breakbeat morphing of (presumably Ride's own voice) makes up the majority of the beat. Hand claps from the world's fastest clapper come in and get taken out before you can ever become accustomed to them, much like everything Death Grips does. This song is their most nonlinear to date, having no words other than Ride's repeating's of the title. It actually resembles something of the hard rock electronic house music of the early 90's right when computer-based production was taking over.


Ahh Birds, how much I love thee. The first and only 'single' released off the album is easily one of my favorite songs off the year. I used to call this abstract until I've heard the first four tracks off Governmental Plates. It's MC Ride's most clearly spoken song, being able to understand nearly every word he says. It's actually one of the catchiest songs of the year, going through various phases, some typically hard nosed, while morphed melodic computer elements lighten up the mood between the chorus screaming's of "I got tomorrow coming!" The song actually stands out quite a lot on this album, at least through the first half. The albums so far has been a collage of electronic loudness and the melodic parts during this song actually provide a nice contrast to the rest. Also the screams of "HIGHER!" at the end are just incredible. One of the strangest and best songs of the year.

Feels Like A Wheel

Well that didn't take long to enter the subconscious once again of this album. Starting off sounding like something M.I.A. would make if she were part of the largest heavy metal band known to existence. I can actually hear out the chorus' words despite the insistent morphing, having what sounds like a Jamaican sing "Let me live my life, Let me live my life." This song otherwise is just bizarre, I don't even know how to describe it. This is easily Death Grips most confusing and contrasting album to date. I say this about every release of theirs but in reality The Money Store is like a cakewalk compared to this. That album actually resembles something like music. At one point someone is going to have to start questioning whether this music is good or not. MC Ride, once again, does not rap on this track.

I'm Overflow

More vocal morphing to the point where the voices become part of the beat. This beat however is really dope and uses various ticks and sounds I can not even make out to form something cohesive. I spoke too soon. All of that just went away once Ride starting riding about him being hot shit. It still stands that this song actually resembles something legibly listenable. I can not decide if I enjoy this song or not because it's rather hit or miss within it, with the parts Ride is not rapping being the best. His verse at the end, with little accompaniment, is rather interesting and a good contrast to the rest of this cluster of sounds. It abruptly ends and that's an understatement.

Big House

A dance track if you wanna call it that. It's moving too fast to even dance too. It does however sound like something The Chemical Brothers would create in their heyday after messing with their speedometers and cranking it past where it can go. The title is probably a reference to the type of music. Welp it all stopped. Now Ride is (creepily) singing "They creeping under my skin" before officially starting his verse. All those sounds at the beginning have gone to the wayside to make way for MC Ride and continue on with a much more Death Grips-esque track. It's actually quite catchy. Throw this in with the first half and you have a rather listenable track, unlike much of the rest of this album. 

Governmental Plates

The title track will probably be anything but considering I have no idea what the title means, or what anything on this album means as a matter of fact. I don't even know how to describe this track, things just whiz by so quick that I can't even perform an interpretation of it. Around one minute however everything slows down slightly for just a second, allowing Ride to utter something for upwards of 10 seconds, before dropping him out again for some more bombastic bass lines. Another track I can't form any impression of. It does however sound like it was a real song and someone scratching a vinyl is messing with it. The drop towards the end is rather nice.

Bootleg (Don't Need Your Help)

Another odd opening with a sample from god knows where saying "No I don't need your help" but as to be expected it's morphed pitch and speed-wise. It actually might have been Ride himself. It doesn't matter it's all gone now, for more otherworldly sounds. What sounds like a cassette tape rewinding itself at max speed is present but other than that I can't pick up anything distinguishable. That is until everything drops out to form the most clear moment on this album so far, with a ethereally airy sound dominating the landscape that is the airwaves. The sample comes back for what I assume is the chorus, and mixed with this sound creates something fantastically divine sounding. It goes away again. Something entirely new and unattractive to listen to approaches, I think the cassette rewinding is back.

Whatever I Want (Fuck Whoever's Watching)

For the previous 10 tracks all I was thinking was "What would this 6 plus minute song be considering everything else are 2/3 minute hodgepodges of sounds that don't mesh with anything else." Let's find out. Ride's voice echoes and morphs to begin the track, ending with him stating that he can do whatever he wants, which is pretty damn true. More rapid fire sonic beats mixed with something reminiscent of 80's disco electronic pop but turned up to where it breaks the tuner. Ride is more than likely rapping to us, not giving a fuck, repeating that he doesn't care who's watching. The beat then slows down, loudness clashes with loudness as acid rain pours down and Ride's voice gets distorted to be repeated at nauseum. It's hardly music. The trance disco 80's tunes are back. Ride continues to yell "Fuck who's watching" as the synths collapse once again into the slowness. I actually am starting to realize that maybe this album wasn't meant to be liked. I have a feeling Death Grips attempted to create the hardest-to-enjoy listening experience ever, while masking 'music' over it. It really follows no formats and is nothing a 15 year old with ADD and trance on his mind could make on his computer in 10 minutes. It does transition nicely into a slowed down 'trance' of the actual variety with Ride exclaiming that it'll be alright before the acid rain sounds come back. It's really a confusing track. The song fades (!) to its ending, signaling the end of the most confusing album I've ever experienced.

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