Death Grips: Government Plates, third aggro/weirdo rap album for free
November 14, 2013 12:09 PM   Subscribe

May 2011: Death Grips appears out of nowhere, releases Ex Military, a free mixtape of noisy, distorted aggro-rap (full album stream on YouTube).
April 2012: Death Grips signs with Epic, releases The Money Store, their first proper album of art-rap/ tech-beat/ psycho-rap/ whatever (YT album stream).
October 2012: Death Grips leak their second album, No Love Deep Web, defying Epic, and sever ties to the label.
July 2013: Death Grips signs to Capitol/Harvest under their own Thirdworlds imprint.
November 2013: Death Grips suddenly drops their 3rd album, Government Plates, for free to download and stream from various sources.
(It's best to consider all audio NSFW)

In case the main download link is overwhelmed or dead, Death Grips* have provided two alternate sites (Megashares and Bayfiles), or you can stream it on Soundcloud and experience the album through audio and visuals on YouTube.

* The Death Grips website has the uncensored cover art for The Money Store and No Love Deep Web which are definitely NSFW, but it also has streaming audio for all their releases. Other sites and streams appear visually clean, but anywhere you find streaming Death Grips audio, it's safest to assume it's NSFW.
posted by filthy light thief (28 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

It's also worth mentioning that Death Grips made a few very deliberate concert no shows, most notably after Lollapalooza 2013. Attendees were greeted by an unoccupied drum kit and a projection of a fake suicide note written by a fan. (To be clear, the note was written by the band.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:16 PM on November 14, 2013

Death grips is Burial.
posted by mintcake! at 12:23 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

What does that mean?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:24 PM on November 14, 2013

I am slightly less pissed for them cancelling the show that I knew for almost a fact would be cancelled. Although to be fair I wasn't very pissed because the scorpion said you knew what I was when you found me.

Anyone have any idea about that GIF of MC Ride with a fucked up eye that's been going around Tumblr the last few days?
posted by griphus at 12:25 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Death grips is Burial.

Nah, Four Tet is Burial. Or maybe it's Tiesto.

(for the uninitiated: Burial is a musician, generally considered to be the stage name of William Bevan; Four Tet is actually Kieran Hebden, and Tiësto is Tijs Michiel Verwest)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:28 PM on November 14, 2013

(Yeah, that joke was pretty context-free. Mea culpa.)
posted by mintcake! at 12:30 PM on November 14, 2013

Though to be fair, this latest Death Grips album resides in a lot of Four Tet territory, and Hebden did produce Omar Souleyman's album Wenu Wenu (YouTube sample track), so weirder things have indeed happened.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2013

Government Plates has a conspicuous lack of MC Ride but I was up late playing Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat and Anne Bonny over and over.

Actually considered posting this, so thank you FLT.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:35 PM on November 14, 2013

Once again with the front-page synchronicity. I've always said Death Grips are the Andy Kaufman of "indie" music. On some level, I have to admire their commitment to making agreements and then doing everything in their power to destroy them. But I can also empathize with anyone (fans, record labels, etc.) who's left holding the bag.
posted by mykescipark at 12:35 PM on November 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Well put.
posted by mintcake! at 12:37 PM on November 14, 2013

Maybe they're doing this as an artificial scarcity/exclusive agreement sort of thing. Like, imagine being the one promoter who can guarantee Death Grips will show.

( will suck to be you because they still won't show. Come on man, what were you thinking?)
posted by griphus at 12:40 PM on November 14, 2013

BTW, before Death Grips MC Ride use to be known as Mxlplx.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:49 PM on November 14, 2013

Death Grips is a super fascinating art experiment. It's like they were formed from the very beginning with the express intent to simultaneously succeed and implode. It's a huge conceptual suicide wish of a band. I wrote about the phenomenon of their no-shows for Maura Magazine (which is a totally awesome magazine and worth reading!) It's behind a paywall, but here's a snippet:

Since self-releasing No Love Deep Web against the wishes of their label Epic (and slapping an erect penis on the cover), Death Grips have seemed keenly aware of how to succeed in the new attention economy of the music industry. I can’t help but think that the courage to continually breach their label and performance contracts stems from a calculated decision to let the band implode spectacularly, one that might have existed since the band's inception: Audience and media interest—stoked by incoherent violence, shock tactics, and Reign In Blood references—eventually, inevitably, chokes on itself.

And the insight to be gained isn’t at all about the talent of the people involved, of the compelling musicality of the group, of ideas or cutting lyrics. Zach Hill in particular has been around long enough to have seen the shift toward shorter attention spans and sped-up hype cycles; his earlier band Hella formed in 2001, although that year's musical landscape seems positively ancient today. He's a prodigiously talented player, but technical prowess simply doesn’t get as much media traction as a provocative narrative. Death Grips is fully aware of this change. The audience might as well not show up at all, they’re saying—from the beginning, it created the interest and the experience, and over time, it became more fascinated by shallow aesthetic signifiers and controversies of the week.

It’s telling that the suicide note projected onto the stage isn’t the band’s—it’s (seemingly) from a fan, and directed outward to the crowd. It serves as a Haneke-style breaking of the fourth wall, a finger pointed outwards: We may be committing career suicide, but you’re the ones killing yourselves.

Like them or not, the no-shows are neither a stunt nor performance piece, neither punk nor art—they’re just the inevitable end point of Death Grips' endeavor. The intentions are simultaneously cynical and pure, self-aware and self-negating. It remains to be seen whether other acts will start taking their cues from it. Are we starting to see the end result of the blog hype cycle—bands spending more time on persistent attention-getting tactics and well-cultivated narratives than on the music itself, which becomes more and more of an afterthought? Are we entering a sort of “hologram economy” era for musicians? It’s entirely possible. It’s 2013, and in the case of Death Grips, the artists aren’t present. But do audiences even want, or need, them to be?
posted by naju at 12:55 PM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

They are absolutely bonkers live. See them if you can, preferably in a smaller venue. If they show up.
posted by HumanComplex at 1:22 PM on November 14, 2013

Here's a 2012 interview with Zach Hill about signing with Epic, with this anecdote from Hill:
Stefon [Burnett, aka MC Ride] went straight into the bathroom and literally just ripped it, like graffiti, like tore into the stalls, carving DEATH GRIPS all over the stalls of the brand new Sony offices. That was before we even got in the spot.
Perhaps it was a sign that they weren't really a good fit for a big, corporate label, or perhaps it was an early sign that they didn't see a future for the band. Burn your bridges before they're built kind of thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:27 PM on November 14, 2013

This is basically the most fun thing ever. But tbh I think it's obvious Death Grips is Flying Lotus.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:37 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Personally I don't like overthinking Death Grips or the stunts that seem to get them all kinds of attention. All the label-fuckery, dick pic album covers, and no-shows aren't really things I care to focus on. For me Death Grips happen to make some of the most refreshingly angry and abstruse hip-hop I've heard in...probably ever. I'm going to download the shit out of this when I get home, thanks filthy light thief and thanks Death Grips for continuing to supply me with excellent free music.
posted by Hoopo at 1:40 PM on November 14, 2013

You're all insane!

Kode9 is Burial.
posted by ACair at 2:55 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Think about it.
posted by ACair at 2:56 PM on November 14, 2013

Thiiiiiink aboooouuuuut iiiiiitttttt.
posted by ACair at 2:56 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I missed them at FYF because everyone was convinced that they weren't going to be there, then they were. I guess that fits into part of the narrative.
posted by gucci mane at 3:21 PM on November 14, 2013

This is what I've been thinking about Death Grips and their place with rap or hip-hop, I be off base here. Some people don't consider them to be rap at all of course.

I've seen some people say "Rap hasn't advanced in 20 years, it all sounds the same and is all about the same things". That may be a fair criticism in some ways, but it is the same as criticizing haiku for not advancing. Rap is a form, with inherent rules and limitations. furthermore, rap is competitive so there is a quasi scoring system. There are actual quantifiable metrics of the "goodness" of a verse.

Let's say for a moment we agree with the conventional wisdom is that Lose Yourself is the greatest rap song ever written. It is frequently cited as THE example of technical excellence in rap.If you go to a rap forum and say "why is eminem good" this is what someone will say, guaranteed.

1) Story driven, There is a coherent story as opposed to a stream of consciousness string of lines.
2) Has a message. Carpe Diem.
3) Universal. Rabbit is every underdog.
3) Multisyllabic Rhyming. Sweaty, Heavy, Already, Spaghetti, Ready.
4) Internal Rhyming. Whole Crowd Grows so Loud.
5) Rhythmic phrasing that forms a cadence. Rabbit he choked, Mad that he won't, that easy nope.
6) Fast and fluid delivery.
7) The words are vastly more important that the beat, people actually know them.

There are of course other desired attributes "realness", inside references and lingo what people call intertextuality, clever punchlines, etc. etc.

Most modern rap artists play with these rules in various ways, breaking them one or two at a time. Future's outlandishly staccato deliver on Karate Chop. Rick Ross's almost comically low effort verse on FuckWitMeUKnowIGotIt, Keef's almost unintelligible mumblings. The ways in which modern MC's violate these rules is what causes people to bemoan the fact that there is no more "real hip hop".

Death Grips breaks every single rule simultaneously except 5. The role of the MC is completely negated, going from a storyteller, center stage to a single rhythmic element in a cacophony.They have pushed the role of the MC way beyond Kanye's autotuned moaning on Hold On or Keefs mumbling on Macaroni Time.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:56 PM on November 14, 2013 [9 favorites]

Man. "Birds" and "Feels like a wheel" is a one-two punch, I tell you what.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:02 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Birds.... Fuck you...."

That's Death Grips, right there for you.
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:43 PM on November 14, 2013

Ad hominem: I've seen some people say "Rap hasn't advanced in 20 years, it all sounds the same and is all about the same things". That may be a fair criticism in some ways, but it is the same as criticizing haiku for not advancing.

But you might as well criticize most stories for being stuck in the same seven (+/-) plots. Break anything down to that level, and it's hard to be really new. But if you look at the different regions and "eras" of rap, there's vast differences.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:50 AM on November 17, 2013

But if you look at the different regions and "eras" of rap, there's vast differences.

Oh sure. I certainly agree with that.

Came to post this though

Anthony Fantano review of Government Plates
posted by Ad hominem at 9:10 AM on November 18, 2013

Having sampled Government Plates, it's safe to say that I still don't get Death Grips - but this is certainly the most accessible of the albums which I haven't gotten.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:32 AM on November 19, 2013

Pitchfork Review 8.4 BNM
posted by Ad hominem at 10:13 AM on November 19, 2013

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