Death Grips - Government Plates

A sloppy lobotomy of hip-hop focused on provoking fear and intrigue.

Label: Third Worlds


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. The Sacramento based experimental trio aren’t content with settling down, unnervingly shuffling from one obstreperous sound to the next.

The unsettling blueprint of their previous releases has been scattered across the room, leaving the listener to pick up the pieces. The result is the most damaged-sounding work they’ve produced yet. It’s every bit as unconventional as we’ve come to expect from them at this point - it isn’t necessarily going to redefine what anyone thinks of Death Grips, but it tries its very best to challenge in every other conceivable way. Released with no prior announcement and completely for free, ‘Government Plates’ is just as surprising as its birth, in that it features considerably less of the group’s gruff vocalist, Stephan Burnett.

His chilling delivery is no longer Death Grips’ defining characteristic. The brooding production forces Burnett to take a back seat for a majority of the tracks, allowing Zach Hill and Andy Morin to showcase their doom-encrusted production in its full glory. The relentlessly vigorous opener, which has far too long a name to include in this review, is a testament to the pair’s new found focus on allowing their instrumentals to breathe. There are long stretches of time in which vocals are completely absent, leaving the claustrophobic squelches and barks to speak for themselves.

Showing a complete disrespect for song structure and melody, the record ditches the immediate hooks and conventional beats of ‘The Money Store’, without abandoning any of its toothless anger. The intimidating ferocity rarely lets up, with its uneasy atmosphere pumping through every track with a commendable sense of nihilism. Featuring minimal hooks, guttural yelps and harrowing production, ‘Government Plates’ sounds like nothing else this year - so in other words, it sounds a whole lot like Death Grips.

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