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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Denzel Curry & slowthai Share New Song “Psycho”

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Denzel Curry and slowthai have shared a new collaborative track titled “Psycho,” and it’s just as psychotic sounding as you’d expect it to be. Backed by an ominous bass-heavy beat, it’s business as usual for Denzel Curry with his abrasive and unique flow, but slowthai most definitely steals the show with an aggressive verse that reflects Denzel’s energy quite well. Can we just hear a whole collaborative album from these two? The music video is slated to drop this Friday. You can listen to “Psycho” below:

JPEGMAFIA Shares New Song “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot”

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It’s looking like JPEGMAFIA is teasing a new upcoming album. This morning the experimental rapper shared a brand new song titled “Jesus forgive me, I Am a Thot,” and it’s as uncompromising, loud, off-kilter as you’d expect it to be, but this track does offer an element of “Pop” and an “R&B” inspired auto-tuned hook that somehow fits amidst the chaos. Peggy has also said “The disappointment cums soon. Just a taste before I waste you.” Hopefully that means we’ll be getting a follow-up to last year’s Veteran. You can watch the music video for “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot” below:

BROCKHAMPTON Release New Song “I Been Born Again”

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BROCKHAMPTON are back after what feels like ages since their last album Iridescence. Well, it hasn’t been that long, but in BROCKHAMPTON years that’s a long time to wait considering the prolific boy band are constantly active. Their new album Ginger is set to be released sometime this month, and the group have released the album’s first single “I Been Born Again,” which also has a music video to accompany it. You can watch the video below:

 

ScHoolboy Q Shares New Song “Numb Numb Juice”

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After three long years ScHoolboy Q has finally returned with new music. Today the “Top Dawg Entertainment” rapper released a new track titled “Numb Numb Juice,” and yes, it is a banger. No word on whether or not this will appear on his upcoming album, but judging from his “Twitter” posts, a new album is imminent. You can listen to “Numb Numb Juice” below:

 

E.P. Review: Kari Faux – Cry 4 Help

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Artist: Kari Faux

EP: Cry 4 Help

Genre: R&B/Hip Hop

Label: Change Minds

Rating: 8/10

Kari Faux is quickly becoming an essential name in music. Following one full-length album, an EP, and various singles, Faux has released a new EP filled with her most enthralling work yet. Cry 4 Help is the title, and it is a necessary title, because the songs on this EP are deeply personal and honest. Unapologetically wearing her heart on her sleeve, the five tracks on this album carry a consistent sense of melancholy. Ranging from topics such as toxic relationships, depression, self-medication, and self-doubt, these songs are gut-wrenching confessions from someone who is using music to improve herself. It’s evident that this is therapy for her, but her knack for crafting catchy R&B-laden tunes with lush production and crisp beats that can have a Trap flavor on one song and a Boom Bap flavor on the next compliment the sentimental tone perfectly. “I don’t wanna be medicated. I don’t wanna be sedated. Rather have you call me crazy,” sings Faux on the smooth opener “Medicated,” and though this is an introduction to a deeply vulnerable experience, she assures us that she’d rather face the hurt with a clear mind than fall down the rabbit hole of substance dominant escapism. The following track “Leave Me Alone” is a lush and subtle anthem for those who have gained the courage to rid themselves of toxic relationships that are based solely on convenience, and Faux has an impressive way of creating an uplifting experience with simplistic lyrical content. “In The Air” is a bit of a celebration of weed with Curren$y adding a smooth verse, but after this fun track the final two tracks get even more personal. “Night Time” speaks on how relationships based solely on sex can be damaging when there’s no real connection, but it’s the closing track “Latch Key” that really ends the EP on a gut-wrenching but inspiring note. This track unsparingly details some painful experiences Faux has had to endure such as having a miscarriage when she was a teen and not having much of a relationship with her parents, using TV and her imagination to cope, but with the final words “Felt overlooked but now i’m getting booked for shows in different states where people dance and sing my hooks,” the EP ends in a positive and optimistic tone. I don’t think anyone saw a personal musical memoir of Faux coming, but here we are, we have a short but effective release that showcases her songwriting versatility. Kari Faux knows how to utilize the healing power of music.

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 03/09/19

Top 15 EPs of 2018

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In this streaming age of music we’re leaving in now, it’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate an EP from an LP. Nowadays anyone can make a 25 minute album and call it a full-length LP, or even make a five track album and call it a full-length. Just look at the latest criminally short six track “LP” from “Nine Inch Nails,” or the string of Kanye produced seven track albums Mr. West dubbed “full-lengths” this year. Album length has become irrelevant, but to those of us who still hold the idea of the EP near and dear, those short bursts of creativity are still very much important in the music world. They still give us that hope that a full-length album from the artist might be on the horizon, or sometimes, those short but sweet releases are all we need. There were a great deal of EPs released this year, and many of them can’t go by unnoticed. Here are my top 15 EPs of 2018.

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15. Artist: Tyler, The Creator

      EP: Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch 

     Genre: Hip Hop/R&B

 Tyler, The Creator’s creativity has moved into film now with his recent musical contributions to The Grinch movie. To coincide with the release of the film, Tyler dropped an E.P. inspired by the film. It is a fun Christmas filled listen packed with 80’s sounding synths and the tracks never stray away into cheesiness, which is no easy feat considering they’re inspired by a Dr. Seuss story. 

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14. Artist: Femme

       EP: 2.0

      Genre: Electronic/House/Pop

 Laura Bettinson under the “Femme” name has been creating delightful “Indie Pop” for awhile now, and on her new E.P. 2.0 She delves into the world of “House” music while keeping her Pop sensibilities. The result is a solid set of dance ready tracks that emphasize fun and optimism.

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13. Artist: Little Dragon

       EP: Lover Chanting

      Genre: Electronic/Synth Pop

 Little Dragon’s latest LP Season High was a bit of a step back for the band. Much of it seemed phoned in, and lacked the ambition their previous work had filled with colorful synth heavy Pop and just the right amount of odd experimental elements. The band have definitely redeemed themselves though with their new E.P. Lover Chanting. Being three tracks in length, the E.P. gets back to the band’s sense of fun, and is probably their most danceable release to date.

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12. Artist: Wallows

      EP: Spring

      Genre: Indie Rock/Indie Pop

 It’s a bit ironic that the latest E.P. from L.A. based Indie Rock band “Wallows” is titled Spring considering the fact that all the tracks have a nice summery vibe to them. To some this E.P. might be a by the numbers “Indie Rock” release, but to others it’s undeniably addicting. I just can’t resist it.

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11. Artist: Protomartyr and Spray Paint

       EP: Irony Prompts A Party Rat

      Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock

 Post-Punk band “Protomartyr” had a busy year. They released a stellar EP, began a tour with “Preoccupations,” and even released a split single with “Preoccupations” where both bands covered each, but a more interesting split single to come out of the band’s work this year is most definitely their split single with the band “Spray Paint.” On this single, “Protomartyr’s” lead singer Joe Casey provided lead vocals for a new “Spray Paint” track, and the lead singer of “Spray Paint” provided lead vocals for a new “Protomartyr” track. It’s a match made in “Post-Punk” heaven, because the chemistry between the two bands is undeniable. 

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10. Artist: Screaming City

       EP: The Vanish

      Genre: Post-Punk/Darkwave/Electronic 

 Visalia, California’s own “Screaming City” released a string of Electronic tinged “Industrial Rock” that spanned three EPs this year, but the biggest gem of the three is without a doubt The Vanish. This release found sole member and multi-instrumentalist Trip Logic going in a heavier guitar-driven direction without sacrificing his Electronic roots. Everything from the lyrical content to the myriad of Experimental elements in the instrumentation that impressively manages to maintain catchiness, this whole E.P. showcases the immense versatility Trip Logic has, and there’s nowhere to go from here but up. 

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9. Artist: Code Orange

    EP: The Hurt Will Go On

    Genre: Metalcore/Industrial Metal

 “Code Orange” are one of those forward thinking bands that make stubborn “Metalcore” traditionalists shout about how “lame” they are for Incorporating outsider genres that aren’t typically explored in “Metalcore,” but guys, put down your Monster energy drink for a minute and admit that the genre has become a bit predictable. “Code Orange” are here to break the stale nature of the genre, and it’s much needed. Following their breakout album Forever, the band dropped a nice E.P. titled The Hurt Will Go On this year, and it’s an impactful reminder that the band are ahead of the game at the moment. Packed with heavy aggression, the “Industrial” and “Nu-Metal” elements the band are known for, and even a Corey Taylor feature, this release has many of us eager to hear another full-length album from the band. Hopefully next year we’ll get what we’re wishing for.

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8. Artist: S. Reidy

    EP: And Here With You, I Am

    Genre: Hip Hop/Alternative Hip Hop

 The fact that an artist like S. Reidy isn’t mentioned when conversations about “Emo Rap” are sparked is ridiculous. The rapper/producer sounds like what “Emo Rap” should sound like. His latest E.P. And Here With You, I Am is far from being one-dimensional. The production consists of simplistic but effective beats, moody acoustic guitars, atmospheric soundscapes, poetic lyrical content, and vocals that evoke the “Emo Rock” spirit. To simply label him “Emo Rap” would not do his music justice, but he’s delivering the moody introspection that other rappers in the game should strive for, and he doesn’t need tattoos on his face to do it.

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7. Artist: Converge

    EP: Beautiful Ruin

   Genre: Metalcore/Hardcore Punk

 Leave it to “Metalcore” legends “Converge” to drop a four track E.P. out of the blue to show the youngsters how it’s done. The band’s recent E.P. Beautiful Ruin is unsparingly monstrous and is among some of the band’s most aggressive work. 

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6. Artist: Childish Gambino

    EP: Summer Pack

   Genre: Soul/R&B/Pop

 We unfortunately didn’t get a new Childish Gambino album this year, but mastermind Donald Glover was definitely not quiet. Following the impactful music video for his single “This Is America” that lead to countless think pieces and theories, Glover dropped a two track E.P. titled Summer Pack. Though the tracks were a lot more laid back and summery on the surface this time around, this didn’t stop fans from formulating theories about how there is an underlying message about climate change and the state of our distractions of social media and celebrity culture. Whatever the message may be, these are fun soulful songs. 

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5. Artist: Chelsey and The Noise

     EP: Blank Frames

   Genre: Industrial/Electronic/EBM

 Who says “Industrial” music and “Pop” music can’t coexist? Hayward, CA based duo “Chelsey and The Noise” proved that “Industrial” can be catchy with their E.P. Blank Frames this year. With hard hitting synth heavy production and Metal infused guitars, the duo incorporate pop sensibilities without giving into the typical predictability “Pop” music is known for. This music is catchy, sexy, dark, and at times sentimental, displaying the immense versatility the two have to offer. 

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4. Artist: Protomartyr

     EP: Consolation

     Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock

 “Post-Punk” band “Protomartyr” released quite possibly their best album last year, which most definitely earned them the right to take a break for awhile because one would assume that you would need to take a break after you give your all on an album, but the band aren’t ready to take a break just yet. The band released an impressive E.P. this year titled Consolation and this four track E.P. progressed the band’s sound even further. Incorporating string arrangements and even collaborating with Kelley Deal of “The Breeders,” this release proves that the band work well with other musicians while not completely abandoning their signature sound. Is this the direction they’re heading in? Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, they’re still the leading force in modern “Post-Punk.” 

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3. Artist: HMLTD

    EP: Hate Music Last Time Delete

    Genre: Synth Pop/Post-Punk/New Wave

 “HMLTD” are quite possibly the most exciting band at the moment. You never know what to expect when going into a new track of theirs, and they haven’t even released a full-length album! Following a diverse string of singles that found the band exploring Post-Punk, Synth Pop, Electronic Music, Gothic Rock, Glam Rock, and whatever else the band feels like dabbling in, the band released a new E.P. this year titled Hate Music Last Time Delete, and it is a cohesive effort that sticks to a Synth Pop/New Wave formula. The band have proven that they can perfect just about any genre they pursue, but it’s clear they wanted to give us their own warped version of “Synth Pop” on this E.P. This music is fun and danceable, but the lyrical content deals with important themes such as social network addiction, learning to love yourself, oh, and falling in love with a mannequin. It’s a good time that leaves you begging for more.

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2. Artist: Ravyn Lenae

    EP: Crush

    Genre: R&B/Soul/Alternative R&B

 Among the recent emergence of talented young artists from Chicago such as Noname, Saba, and Mick Jenkins, Ravyn Lenae has been garnering much attention for her beautiful artistry that finds the young singer delivering smooth “R&B” that isn’t afraid to branch out of traditional “R&B” sensibilities. Her latest E.P. Crush is a fitting title, because it’s impossible not to swoon and fall for her gorgeous vocals and attention to Soulful and at times off-kilter production provided by the one and only Steve Lacy. Lenae is one of the youngest artists in the realm of “R&B” at the moment, but her sound exudes immense maturation, and it’s clear she’s on a forward thinking path. Here’s to hoping she blesses us with a full length debut album next year. 

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1. Artist: CMON

    EP: Confusing Mix Of Nations

    Genre: Post-Punk/Synth Pop/New Wave

 There’s no doubt in my mind that L.A. based duo “CMON” (or Confusing Mix Of Nation’s) debut E.P. is the best of 2018, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best E.P. you haven’t heard. Absent from every major streaming service other than their own personal SoundCloud, the band most likely slipped under your radar this year, and that’s unfortunate because their debut five track E.P. is the stuff 80’s Post-Punk/New Wave revivalist dreams are made of. The lush and dreamy guitars, the “House” driven percussion that reflects “New Order’s” heyday, and the subtle but infectious vocals are all promising elements that should put the band on your radar. With very little information about the band online, it’s hard to dig deep into their background, but let’s all hope and pray they continue to release stellar material.

Written By: Steven Sandoval