If what Kanye said is true, and “rap is the new rock and roll”, then JPEGMAFIA embodies the psychedelic Hendrix steez of the 60s, whilst revelling in the thrashing, experimental nature of punk in the 90s. ‘Veteran’, Peggy’s schizophrenic sounding 2018 album, was quickly lauded as one of the LPs of the year by Hip-Hop heads from around the world, due to It’s frantic self-production and internet themed irony.
On Instagram, the (formerly) Baltimore based rapper claimed “I don’t usually work on something right after I release a project”, but ‘All my hero’s are cornballs’ was made the same year as Veteran, and got mastered earlier this year. With this in mind, you can hear the similarities pulsing through his new record; the scuzzy, off beat production transports you through an internet wormhole - with It’s glitchy nature making you forever wonder if you’ll come out the other end alive.
This album feels more diverse than It’s predecessor, there are elements that (real name) Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks has evidently taken as influence from people he has worked with this year. The title track is a spacious, synth-led trap jingle that could have slipped straight onto Flume’s mixtape ‘Hi This Is Flume’, which Mafia obviously featured on. Peggy enrols a pretty spectacular vocal range to match the spectrum of notes in his jangly melody. Combined with the contrastingly sorrowful lyrical input: “Uh, damn, guess who had a big year? No tips, no chains, just a few years”; depression still seems a pinnacle part of his personality, despite the rapper’s recent success.
Although there is a lot of dispiriting lyrical output, ‘AMHAC’ has many amusing aspects; this contradiction is becoming intrinsic to Hendricks’ art. ’JPEGMAFIA TYPE BEAT’, a 55 second montage entertaining the idea he sounds too much like Death Grips (a common criticism of his), digs at people who have nourished this decade-standing internet trend. Other moments of comedy shine on lo-fi R&B tunes like ‘DOTS FREESTYLE REMIX’, where Peggy claims that, as a black man, it is his dream for Madonna to adopt him. Despite It’s length, the track is definitely a highlight, the woozy beat whirrs around ‘You Think You know Me’s’ tongue and cheek bars, and compliments the scintillating vocal performance of Buzzy Lee, and surprisingly Abdu Ali too.
Before this album, there were certain frustrations with JPEGMAFIA that made his project’s feel slightly fragmented. When someone is so musically versatile, it is difficult to intertwine these influences into a coherent sound, but this really isn’t the case anymore. Hendricks’ pussy punk and socio-political sonics have an air of fluency that would make any producer throb with tears. They weave into one another beautifully, making the listening experience more pleasurable than ‘Veteran’. The transitions are almost too good. Because of all the mid-song switch ups, and fleshed out skits, you can barely notice when tracks in the calibre of ‘Basic Bitch Tears’ run into 'Dots Freestyle Remix’.
With Danny Brown’s new album just around the corner, you could notion that America’s slightly more alternative rap scene is as rife as ever. The elicit, forward thinking artist’s of today are submerging their sonics into the realms of mainstream culture, but holding onto their identity whilst doing so. Life is exciting for JPEGMAFIA, and Jesus can we not wait for him to announce a few dates in England.