Album Review: JPEGMAFIA – All My Heroes Are Cornballs

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Artist: JPEGMAFIA

Album: All My Heroes Are Cornballs

Genre: Hip Hop/Experimental Hip Hop

Label: EQT Recordings 

Rating: 9/10

What separates JPEGMAFIA from all of the edgelord shitposters whom try to get a rise out of people by being offensive for the sake of being offensive? Well, to a lot of people absolutely nothing, but if you delve deeper into what may come off as surface level shock, you’ll find that there is merit to what Peggy is saying. On his last album Veteran, the album that garnered him acclaim, the Baltimore rapper/producer assaulted the genre of “Hip Hop” by giving us an album that was instrumentally discombobulating with bizarre and abrasive samples and unorthodox song structure, and on top of that he rapped aggressively, getting a rise out of everyone from right-wing extremists to millennial keyboard warriors. This radical delivery prompted a lot of Hip Hop traditionalists to grab their 2Pac and Biggie bibles, and it’s the kind of shaking up the Hip Hop world needs right now. He’s the “Punk” of Hip Hop, and dare I say he’s the “Throbbing Gristle” of Hip Hop? Many of  you are probably thinking “what the Hell is a Throbbing Gristle?” Deemed “the wreckers of civilization,” “Throbbing Gristle” were a band in the late 70’s that made everyone else in the realm of “Experimental” music sound like “ABBA.” They had no interest in making traditional music, instead they were the complete deconstruction of traditional song structure, touching on taboo subjects that left many disturbed and unsettled. They helped birth “Industrial” music, and over 40 years later here we are with a genre called “Industrial Hip Hop,” a genre where JPEGMAFIA fits in quite well, and like “Throbbing Gristle,” Peggy has stated that the whole traditional song structure of verse-chorus-verse-chorus needs to be rejected. I would say he’s on a mission to deconstruct the norms of Hip Hop, but it seems as if his “anti” approach comes out of him naturally, as opposed to having to try hard to go against the grain. So where do you go after a highly successful album such as Veteran puts you on the map? Well, there are two options. You can either play it safe by giving the people what they want and become a gimmick of yourself, or you can progress even further and sharpen your skills by utilizing what makes you great to explore new ideas, and on his new album All My Heroes Are Cornballs Peggy does the latter. This album is still radical, it’s still abrasive, and it’s still instrumentally discombobulating, but there is a bit of maturity believe it or not. Peggy has sharpened his masterful production skills incorporating more melody with atmospheric synths, samples, and even acoustic guitars that appear randomly throughout the tracklist, but at the same time this album is even more anti-structured than Veteran. That isn’t to say this album is without it’s killer choruses. The track “Free the Frail” will make anyone shed a tear with it’s gorgeous chorus and the album’s opener “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot” has an auto-tuned high note that is hard not to sing along to, and crafting a whole album that throws traditional structure out the window that doesn’t come off as a bunch of noise is no easy feat, and he was able to do this because he himself is a fan. His eclectic taste translates to his music. Everything from creating “Punk Rock” without picking up an instrument on the track “PRONE!” to covering “No Scrubs” on the track “BasicBitchTearGas,” it’s evident that Peggy has an ear for melody as much as he has an ear for abrasion. One thing we need to remind ourselves though, is that Peggy is primarily a student of Hip Hop. To top off his unique production skills, he flows nicely, and much of the lyrics are a lot more thematic and conceptual. There is a recurring “thot” theme, and this can be interpreted as Peggy calling himself a thot, painting a picture of a fictional promiscuous woman, but when he speaks from her perspective it’s almost as if he’s talking about himself, and whether or not he’s using this as a metaphor for being a “thot” for money, materials, and fame is very much open for interpretation. The track “Grimy Waifu” is a lush guitar-driven track that finds Peggy dressing up the track as a love song, but underneath the surface it’s about a gun. He claims that his gun is his waifu, waifu being a term for a fictional anime character that fans have an affection for. This track can be seen as commentary on America’s obsession with guns, and serving in the military, Peggy has experienced firsthand how guns have a lot of power in this country. Following the mixture of topical subject matter, thematic concepts, and his usual braggadocio, the album is summed up with the brutally honest closing track “Papi i Missed U.” Many of this song’s lyrics can be viewed as offensive and insensitive, but Peggy has no interest in sugar-coating or being your non-corrupt hero, which reflects the album’s title All My Heroes Are Cornballs. This speaks on the unrealistic image we create of our so-called heroes. We view celebrities as these untouchable beings when at the end of the day they’re only human like everyone else, humans that aren’t as pristine as we’d like them to be. JPEGMAFIA may not be a traditional celebrity, but his fearlessness, his honesty, and his unique style are exactly what music needs right now, because sometimes we need an artist to make us look at ourselves and realize that we’re all a bit ridiculous.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 09/16/19

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