JPEGMafia, also known as Peggy, is perhaps one of the most unique voices in the experimental hip-hop scene. I first became acquainted with his music when I heard his 2018 album, “Veteran,” followed by 2019’s “All My Heroes are Cornballs,” each unique and fantastic in their own ways. “Veteran” has “Baby I’m Bleeding” and “All My Heroes are Cornballs” has “Jesus Forgive Me I am a Thot,” both of which have never left my rotation since my first listen. Both albums have entirely different vibes, yet fit distinctly in JPEGMafia’s style. With this momentum, I was interested to see where he would go artistically when he released his follow-up album, “LP!”
The singles preceding “LP!” included the tracks “BALD!,” “CUTIE PIE!,” “TRUST!,” “HAZARD DUTY PAY!,” and “DIRTY!” The standout single was “BALD!,” which featured a hypnotizing and glitchy beat, as well as a vintage-looking music video. This was accompanied by braggadocious lyrics that simultaneously dismissed his own baldness while dissing others. The creativity is matched by the other singles. There are two versions of “LP!” currently released: a streaming version (dubbed the “online” version), and the “offline” version released only on YouTube, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, which features more tracks with samples that could not get cleared in time for the album’s release. For the purpose of this review, I will look at the offline version, since it contains more tracks, and appears more complete.
The album’s greatest strength is its abrasiveness. “TRUST!,” one of the album’s singles, starts the album off with a glitchy lo-fi aesthetic, coupled with a hypnotic flow from JPEGMafia about self-love. This continues the general theme from “BALD!,” and sets the tone for the album well. The next track, “DIRTY!” comes with abrasive drums. It was around this time when listening to the album that I realized what a monumental producer JPEGMafia is. His creativity is genuinely unmatched, however, I acknowledge his music can be offputting to those not accustomed to abstract hip-hop. I imagine that listening to this album without being previously familiar with his music would be a jarring experience because of how harsh the vocals gel with the beat, which relies heavily on trippy sounds. Despite this, his music can also sound melodic as the vibe truly oscillates between tracks in an interesting way. And, this album embodies the versatility of his range.
As a testament to this, the next track is “NEMO!,” featuring a calmer instrumental compared to the first two tracks. What is intriguing about this track, though, is that he still raps with the intensity of a banger track even though the instrumental of the song does not match the vibe. Rather than being to the track’s detriment, the song was an enjoyable listen. His genre-bending continues with experimentations into rock instrumentals with “END CREDITS!.”
Above all, this album is an emotional roller coaster. Some songs, like “HAZARD DUTY PAY” will have you jumping around and the next will have you thinking about your feelings. “WHAT KINDA RAPPIN’ IS THIS?” has such a beautiful instrumental representation of the latter. “ARE U HAPPY?” is among my favorite tracks on the whole album. Peggy has a rapid-fire flow on this track, the beat of which genuinely sounds like an alien produced it. It is one of the most inventive pieces of music I have ever heard.
The reason that “LP!” resonates with me is that it feels like the culmination of the sounds Peggy has been cultivating over the course of his previous records up until now. If there’s a word to describe his music, then it’s the antithesis of boring. His bias towards taking artistic risks is unparalleled with his contemporaries. Yet, his music is still memorable, with melodies and lines stuck in my head. His music strives off its abrasiveness and versatility, both musically and emotionally. This album is a journey that parallels JPEGMafia’s artistic output up until this point, and I would not have it any other way. Whether you love the album or you can’t stand it, it’s unique to JPEGMafia. No other artist could create what he does.
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