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Death Grips, "Government Plates"
Death Grips, “Government Plates”

Government Plates is a nightmare. It’s violent and disorienting, assaulting your ears with harsh sounds that shift suddenly and unexpectedly, all while constantly clashing with each other. When MC Ride (Stefan Burnett) isn’t menacingly mumbling, he’s outright shrieking. Death Grips is as angry as ever.

The duo’s fourth record (yes, there was something before NO LOVE DEEP WEB and the dick-pic album art) came as a surprise. One of the central tracks, “Birds,” was released over the summer, but there hasn’t been a peep about a record. And does Death Grips even exist without controversy? After a year spent publicly, extravagantly ripping off their record label and generally facing the world with a giant middle finger, it’s not a totally unfair question. But the answer is, yeah, these guys are still making music. Very good music.

There’s no way to really tag the kind of music they’re making. This is hardly hip hop anymore. MC Ride doesn’t rap much, and even when he does, his druggy mumbling and aggressive shouting don’t resemble any kind of stylized flow. Between that and some heavy distortion, it’s hard to even understand him, with the exception of the repeating “fuck who’s watching.” It’s also pretty clear when he says “fuck you” and “fuck your idols.”

At times, Government Plates is almost straight-up dance music. Zach Hill’s live drums can come in with drum machine precision and there are moments that are warped Death Grips versions of bass drops. But it’s still not dance music any more than it’s hip hop. Death Grips stands pretty much alone, making some seriously polarizing music. It’d be easy to hate Government Plates, but that’d be boring. It’s worth it to see where the nightmare is going.