JPEGMAFIA makes music that is outwardly political and dissatisfied while also being ironic, cynical and funny.
To avoid disappointment, be wary of overexcitement and set your expectations lowâ€”Throughout the promotional campaign and lead up to JPEGMAFIAâ€™s follow-up to his break-out 2018 album Veteran, All My Heroes Are Cornballs, disappointment was the tagline. While this plays well as a funny, self-deprecating joke, now that the music is available, itâ€™s apparent that the word also carries some weight and purpose for the man behind the JPEGMAFIA, aka Peggy, name, Barrington Hendricks.
Much of the chaotic energy, presented in biting, angry vocals and obtuse, noisy beats, from Veteran makes its way to All My Heroes, but the latter is distinctly the slower, more introspective of the two. Peggy makes the decision to sing more All My Heroes than weâ€™ve ever heard him previously and along with the instrumentals taking a step back in abrasiveness, it sounds as though Peggy has allowed all of himself to come through in his musicâ€”a mature artist who has truly come into his own.
The immaculately titled â€śJesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thotâ€ť opens the album with a tone-setting weaving in and out of relative serenity, vitriol and then comedy and beauty as Peggyâ€™s Auto-Tuned vocal sings â€śI canâ€™t feel my face, oh god!/ SMH, no ASMRâ€ť in the chorus. Exactly halfway through the second track, â€śKenan Vs. Kelâ€ť there is a change in the beat, adding forceful guitars and drums and JPEGMAFIA begins screaming his lines. On â€śBeta Male Strategies,â€ť Peggy confronts feelings of imposter syndrome with melodic guitars carrying the back half of the beat.
â€śJPEGMAFIA TYPE BEATâ€ť is the track that is most referential to Peggyâ€™s constant comparisons to Death Grips and B L A C K I E, especially earlier on in his career. â€śPRONE!,â€ť a similarly assaulting track features the most aggressive vocal performance on the album and includes the stand-out line, â€śOne shot turn Steve Bannon into Steve Hawking.â€ť The track that follows, â€śLifeâ€™s Hard, Hereâ€™s a Song About Sorrel,â€ť is the only song on the album that feels unnecessary, but due to its length, it doesnâ€™t last long enough to be a great annoyance.
The title track might be as good as Peggy has ever sounded singing on a track while also continuing to reflect on the themes of the album. â€śBBW,â€ť hilariously short for â€śBlack Brian Wilson,â€ť is a brief, simple track with one of the more classic hip-hop style beats on the entire record. â€śFree the Frailâ€ť might be the most direct confrontation with Peggyâ€™s rise to prominenceâ€”who would have thought in 2016 that the man who just released Black Ben Carson would, in just a few years, be promoting his new album alongside James Blake and Jeff Tweedyâ€”and an emotionally affecting, contemplative track.
â€śPost Verified Lifestyleâ€ť is divided into three distinct sections, the first being the loudest, the second a little more thoughtful, and the third most referential with a looping beat of vocals saying â€śDamn Peggy.â€ť The album closes with the phenomenal â€śPapi I Missed U,â€ť which seems to sum up the record has a whole, directly addressing Peggyâ€™s fame, Americaâ€™s gun violence and some of the critical commentary on his work with immense confidence.
What All My Heroes Are Cornballs does so well, and why it has been anointed as an album that perfectly captures online culture is how songs like â€śGrimy Waifuâ€ť and â€śPRONE!â€ť do such an incredible job of packing nervous thoughts and societal anxieties into equally light-hearted content that never fails to get a laugh from the listener. JPEGMAFIA makes music that is outwardly political and dissatisfied while also being ironic, cynical and funny in a manner that could only be the product of someone well-versed in the shorthand and machinations of Twitter-scrollers and the societal fits of a contemporary moment.