This Week in Music- 9/13

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This Week in Music- 9/13

Joseph Daher, Columnist

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Album Spotlight – All My Heroes Are Cornballs by JPEGMAFIA

Aiden Hiller

JPEGMAFIA, affectionately referred to as “Peggy” by his fans, is a 29-year-old Baltimore-based rapper and producer. Peggy burst onto the scene with the release of 2018’s Veteran, an experimental and absurd journey into the depravities of internet culture. The album reached widespread critical acclaim with Peggy being renowned for his bizarre and wholly idiosyncratic sound. With that said, it’s no surprise that many, including myself, were curious to see how he would progress with the follow-up, All My Heroes Are Cornballs. Peggy did not disappoint. 

 

This project easily has the densest and creative production I’ve heard all year. Peggy adapts the quirky and sometimes disturbing noises of Veteran into a mature and cohesive soundscape. Where Veteran is sharp and obtrusive, All My Heroes is cloudy and disorienting – and sometimes unusually emotional. While there are certainly a few tracks on this project that have the aggressive and in-your-face qualities of Veteran, Peggy seamlessly blends it with gorgeous melodies and warm bass lines. A prominent example that comes to mind is featured on the track “Kenan Vs. Kel”. It opens with a relatively soft instrumental but eventually breaks down into a sinister guitar and grimy drum beat. Conversely, “JPEGMAFIA TYPE BEAT” assaults the listener with a wall of industrial noise in the first few seconds, but gradually stumbles into a melodic synth. 

 

The following track, “Grimy Waifu”, is one of the most compelling on the album. Peggy’s introspective rapping coupled with the relaxed acoustic guitar and gentle flute makes for a truly sublime 2 minutes and 55 seconds. Framed as a traditional love song, the track discusses the relationship between Peggy himself, and his gun. The lyrics allude to Peggy’s service in the Air Force during Iraq – which acted as a formative period for his soon-to-be music career. In an interview with Apple Music, Peggy spoke to his inspiration for the song: 

 

They probably changed it now because the times are different but [when I was in the military] they framed it like, “This is your gun. This is your girl. You gotta sleep with her…”

 

Another exceptional track is “Free the Frail”, which sees Peggy reflecting on his seemingly overnight success. Peggy remarks that once an album is completed, he has no control over its reception. Ultimately the listener determines the album’s success and identity: “Don’t rely on the strength of my image, hey/ If it’s good, then it’s good/ Break it down, the s*** is outta my hands.” 

There isn’t a single track that sounds misplaced or unnecessary, but it’s difficult to capture the sound as a whole because it refuses to be defined. The album eludes and bewilders the listener with its dense, textured production and constant beat switches. Peggy shows a mastery for blending genres – none of the ideas here have clearly defined boundaries. It sounds like a flawless stream of consciousness – improvised but paradoxically it’s perfectly refined. Although, this album definitely takes a direction more sonically comparable to “experimental” R&B, making it his most accessible work to date. Fortunately, however, Peggy remains true to his eccentric and utterly unique style – making him possibly the most original voice in hip hop today.  There really is nothing else that sounds quite like it. 

 

Damn Peggy… 10/10 

 

Favorite Tracks: Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot, Kenan Vs. Kel, Beta Male Strategies, Grimy Waifu, Rap Grow Old & Die x No Child Left Behind, All My Heroes Are Cornballs, Thot Tactics

 

Least Favorite Tracks: None 

 

Genre: Experimental Hip-Hop, Alternative R&B

 

Spotify | Apple Music

 

 

Editor’s Note:

Joseph Daher

 

All My Heroes Are Cornballs is an eclectic odyssey into the personal life of eccentric rapper and producer Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks, better known as JPEGMAFIA, defying traditional hip hop structure and sound design with mesmerizing glitch-pop inspired production. Peggy’s talent as a multifaceted artist—a veritable one-man vocalist, producer, and sound engineer—is unmatched in the hip hop game, and lends itself incredibly to the stream of consciousness style he harnesses on this record. However, the energy and quality of tracks like “Jesus Forgive Me I’m a Thot” and “Beta Male Strategies” are not maintained throughout the record, especially in the noticeably weaker and more scattered latter half of the album. Peggy’s unconventional production is reminiscent of other experimental hip hop acts like the cult classic Death Grips, perhaps off-putting to some, but injects far more emotion than his contemporaries (“Grimy Waifu” comes to mind), balancing dissonant industrial noise and harsh beats with autotune-drenched harmonious rhythm and blues style vocals.

 

The complex production on this record may be inaccessible initially, but repeated listens shed light on Hendricks’ elaborate tangled vision. The production of this record really makes it, but Peggy is certainly no slacker on the mic; he provides some insanely memorable bars (“SMH no ASMR”) peppered with pop culture references all the while covering broad issues like police brutality and prejudice. But above all else, as the cover shows, this album is a profound personal statement on JPEGMAFIA’s alluring eccentricity and persona built on opposition and internet culture.

 

Though not matching the replayability, accessibility or precision of my album of the year pick IGOR, this will undoubtedly make an appearance on my end of the year list.

 

9/10

 

Favorite Tracks: Grimy Waifu, Jesus Forgive Me I’m A Thot, Beta Male Strategies, Rap Grow Old & Die x No Child Left Behind, Papi I Missed U, BBW

 

Least Favorite Tracks: Post Verified Lifestyle, Thot Tactics, Basic Bitch Tear Gas, Kenan vs. Kel

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