The 10 Best Albums Of 2013 – #7 Death Grips – Government Plates
OnStage Magazine Presents: The 10 Best Albums Of 2013
#7 Death Grips – Government Plates
I’ve spent the last two years on constant vigil for any and all things Death Grips related and the fact that they are the most important hip-hop group in fifteen plus years is not a factor as to why, instead it is because these guys are more punk than Henry Rollins. Which in turn makes them as much entertaining as they are inspiring. Death Grips show us what it’s like to be brilliant, angsty, and snotty all at the same time, above all though they are a reminder that not every punk left is afraid of backing words up with actions.
If you just want to know why I chose Government Plates as the number seven just scroll to the bottom and press play, it speaks for itself with its creative philosophical force masked behind aggressive instrumented noise, but for those of you who are either new to Death Grips or haven’t been along for the ride let me go back to last October for a brief glimpse at why this album is important on every level.
Actually, I’m going to go back a little further than October 2012 even though that’s when the cream fully made its way to the top. At the start of last year Death Grips put out their first studio album The Money Store which should go down in the annals of music history as being well near the top of the greatest rap albums ever made list. It showed what happens when potential develops into a reality, finding critics who weren’t fully on board were hard to find and in hindsight probably Nickleback fans.
Epic Records picked them up shortly thereafter and those with their fingers on the pulse felt the pain begin to form which comes from yet another band selling out for commercial success, Death Grips, as with most bands, believed the hype the label put their way about allowing them complete control and absolute artistic freedom. Epic Records told the dudes that the album release date would be pushed back to continue building hype, The Money Store was still gaining momentum in full force. Now most bands when told to sit on their hands (I’m talking to you The Head and the Heart) have no choice but to do so, taking off on uninspired tours promoting an album comprised of songs which have long lost their new car scent, turns out Death Grips are the first band in a long time with an actual pair of balls and announced via Facebook and Twitter that the” label will be hearing [No Love Deep Web] for the first time with you,” because they were putting it out for free immediately. I remember reading that tweet and actually cheering out loud at work, FINALLY not giving into a broken system of hype and money. This was October 1, 2012.
Needless to say Epic dropped Death Grips who have now formed their own label Third Worlds. This year they cancelled three major festivals including Fun Fun Fun Fest which was the one I attended. allowing me a first hand look at curmudgeon grumbling directed at the group. I hate festivals (this excludes SXSW obviously because that is the greatest experience since Bob Dylan first heard a Woody Guthrie song), people actually pay two hundred dollars to sit through heat and exhaustion to see Snoop Dogg (to hell with that Lion noise) and Mumford & Sons play a forty-five minute set. Not that those bands in particular are bad just that it is a festival and people show up carrying “world’s greatest fan” tattoos across their foreheads and try to mention at least fifteen times in every conversation just how great they think one particular band is.I get free tickets and have no stock in one band over another and still it’s barely worth my time, those fair-weather bandwagon riders are to blame.
So overhearing someone holding a ten dollar beer, using an iphone, with a lanyard-pass hanging around their neck talking about how missing Death Grips was ruining the weekend kind of made my life better, who gives a shit about your first world problems, relax it is just music and the last time I checked there are still two hundred bands billed to blow your mind. I pretend they cancelled that FFF show just for me, we’re close like that.
Which brings us up to speed. My favorite argument I’ve been in, which has surfaced in many forms over my lifetime, stems from a deep seeded belief that music should be free, that bands such as Radiohead who put their albums up for name-your-price are the only ones worth respecting. If you don’t allow people an opportunity to experience your art without having money as a prerequisite then you are just another snake-oil swindling businessmen. “Music is a business and you need money to run a business,” I’m not arguing that, there are plenty of ways to make a buck without treating art like it is a commodity. I mention that to point out that the scoffers I’ve read online and experienced in conversation about how screwed Death Grips are now that they owe Epic money, about how “I bet they won’t be giving it out for free now that they are the ones paying for it,” not that it matters but you guys are wrong again, moral code should always outweigh financial risks and guess what Government Plates came out, self-released, recorded themselves, all for free!
Now drama aside, Government Plates is the first sign of real growth Death Grips has shown us, all of that potential which Epic was banking on is still being seen through but this time on their own rules. They are still grimy, they are still unapologetic, they just aren’t underdogs anymore, they are a three-man biker gang out of Sacramento doing what the fuck they want and doing it insanely well. Death Grips are one of the last remaining remnants of punk rock, in a world full of people obsessed with self-image yet controlled by the fear of standing out these guys are patron saints. Everything about Death Grips is important, how many bands can we say that about anymore?
Download the album for free here.
Death Grips – Facebook | Soundcloud | Website
The Best Albums of 2013:
10. Night Beds – Country Sleep
9. Treetop Flyers – The Mountain Moves
8. PINS – Girls Like Us
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