Album review: Jpegmafia is miles ahead of his competition on “All My Heroes Are Cornballs”

jpegmafia review illustration
Sam Ford/THE REVIEW
Jpegmafia invites viewers into the kaleidoscopic soundscape of his mind on “All My Heroes are Cornballs.”

BY
Senior Reporter

Jpegmafia has been repeatedly tweeting and promoting his newest album as a disappointment, but it is far from that. Baltimore rapper Jpegmafia, who also goes by “Peggy,” took the underground rap scene by storm with “Veteran” in 2018 and on his latest release, “All My Heroes Are Cornballs,” he intends to stay at the subterranean realm of the rap game, establishing himself as its ruler.

With this record, Peggy is completely going against the grain about what a banger sounds like: a song you get hyped up before a game or anything warranting the word “hard.” Jpegmafia has proven on this record that “Veteran” was not a fluke in that he doesn’t need a huge bass or hard hitting drums, gangster rap lyrics or huge synths in order to be considered “hard.” All you need is an instrumental that never stops being in your face.

The best way to describe this album is disorienting. Most of the songs switch pace non-stop, like “Kenan vs. Kel” which starts with bells, and switches to distorted drums before switching back to the bells. This is all combined with a typical hip-hop drum line, and lyrics from Jpegmafia reflecting on his newfound fame. Around the 1:40 mark, the song brings in heavy metal guitars and turns the song on its head completely. This is a perfect summation of how much misdirection Jpegmafia utilizes on this record.

Jpegmafia creates beautiful music between the unbridled insanity that appears elsewhere on this album. The song “BBW,” is a heartfelt message with lyrics like, “When I pass / I hope everything I did matter to you, baby” while maintaining his creative one liners like, “I’m the young black Brian Wilson.” Jpegmafia manages to immerse you in his twisted world long enough to pull back the curtain and remind you that he has emotions too, adding to the disorienting nature of the record. Another example of this is on the track “Free the Frail,” or on his cover of the TLC song “No Scrubs” retitled “BasicBitchTearGas.”

His knowledge of internet culture is ever prevalent on numerous tracks, such as when he raps, “Rap’s been so good to me / I hope it gets me cancelled,” in the most tongue and cheek way possible on “Beta Male Strategies.” Jpegmafia is edgy and loves shock value combined with provocative and offensive lyrics to get as many people angry at him at once as possible.

The productions on “All My Heroes Are Cornballs” is arguably the most intriguing and compelling part of the record. Jpegmafia utilizes synthesizers more on this record than ever before, especially on the title track. He also blends genres on several tracks. On “JPEGMAFIA TYPE BEAT,” he blends elements of house and rap, where on “Grimy Waifu” he shows pop sensibility while singing an auto-tuned crooner over an acoustic guitar based beat before switching back to rap.

Jpegmafia shows a degree of artistic progression on “All My Heroes Are Cornballs” that few other artists take. His sound is still identifiable, but he takes the sounds his fans know him for and turns them into something completely new and compelling. Jpegmafia has the unique ability to maintain top-notch lyricism and production while adding new edges to experimental rap. He also maintains his intimate relationship with the hip-hop community and music listeners at large. The album is authentic, melodic, beautiful and enamoring.

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