Album Review: JPEGMAFIA – Veteran

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Artist: JPEGMAFIA

Album: Veteran

Genre: Experimental Hip Hop/Industrial Hip Hop

Rating: 8/10

The fate of Hip Hop is kind of up in the air right now. It’s hard not to get the sense that “Trap” is on it’s way out, and Migos’ agonizing new album is just another nail in that coffin. Sure we have the handful of revered rappers who bring lyrical skill combined with modern production to the masses, but this compared to the countless amount of garbage rappers who are in it for a quick cash grab makes it hard to defend the modern state of this beloved genre. There is another world of Hip Hop though that gets it’s recognition from hardcore music fans, but doesn’t and probably never will get it’s recognition from the masses, and that’s the world of “Experimental Hip Hop.” Sure we have the scene of “SoundCloud” rappers offering us a harsher and more abrasive sound, but even that is becoming a gimmick that has desensitized most of us, and one might even say “Experimental Hip Hop” or “Industrial Hip Hop” is becoming a gimmick too. After the breakthrough of “Death Grips” any other artist that dared to take Hip Hop in an abrasive and noisy direction couldn’t escape the “Death Grips” comparisons, and that’s truly unfair because some of these artists really bring a lot of interesting ideas to the table. One artist in particular is Baltimore’s “JPEGMAFIA.” This rapper/producer utilizes the “DIY” aesthetic to create unsettling and unforgiving music that truly has no rules. He’s aware that he’s often thrown into the waning category of abrasive “Experimental Hip Hop,” but he truly does not give a flying fuck. His past material has proven that he’s not afraid to swing at any rapper out there, throwing lyrical jabs at Drake, Kid Cudi, and even “Death Grips.” The rough bass heavy filthy as all Hell production topped with his uncompromising and often disturbing lyrics is enough to scare soccer moms again, and just when they thought music was finally safe. (Open your eyes Reznor, here’s the dangerous music you’re looking for.) On his new album Veteran, “JPEGMAFIA” has created something that transcends just shock value. Don’t get me wrong, the abrasive Peggy we love definitely shows up on this record, I mean there’s a song on this record titled “I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies” for crying out loud, but the “Experimental” elements of his past material has much more emphasis this time around. The off-kilter drum patterns, the eerie and flat-out bizarre samples, (The guy even samples Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s odd throat noises from his track “Goin’ Down”) and that dirty bass all make for a challenging but intriguing listen. JPEGMAFIA is no one-trick pony though, this album features his most melodic moments, and he even does a bit of singing that actually goes over quite well, well enough to even be in a Top 40 hit if he were inclined to make Pop music, but Peggy doesn’t care about making hits, and thank God for that. In fact, the guy doesn’t really take himself too seriously. He’s aware of the dominance of the internet culture, the meme culture, the music blogger culture, and he’s aware that independent artists like himself more often than not get ahead by internet word-of-mouth. He trolls the trollers, and he has fun doing it. This album is an example of how the internet can be utilized to create worthy art, despite all of the negative aspects of the web, and artists like “JPEGMAFIA” uses the dominance of the web to his advantage, and the outcome is relentless and unfiltered music that follows no rules, and music should never have rules anyway. What a time we’re living in.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 01/29/18

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