Review | JPEGMAFIA - All My Heroes Are Cornballs
We take a look at the new album by an artist known for his consistent experimentation with production and deeply political lyrics. His last album propelled him into the spotlight, allowing him to work with similar alternative artists and producers, but will his new album live up to the high standards of his new fans?
Last year, JPEGMAFIA released his sophomore studio album Veteran, which turned the artist into an overnight sensation and received critical acclaim for its experimental production, political lyricism and DIY punk aesthetic. He has become the voice of a generation by successfully blending various genres into a unique sound and expanding further into the ever-growing experimental hip hop scene. His live shows saw him owning any venue he played at, performing his songs with manic energy, starting mosh pits and screaming his lyrics like he was leading a hardcore punk band. In 2019, Peggy collaborated with various artists including Denzel Curry, Flume and Injury Reserve. On the release of his new project, All My Heroes Are Cornballs, the rapper released a heartfelt statement via Instagram regarding his project:
“This album is really a thank you to my fans tbh. I started and finished it in 2018, mixed and mastered it in 2019 right after the Vince tour. I don’t usually work on something after I release a project. But Veteran was the first time I worked hard on something, and it was reciprocated back to me. So I wanted to thank my people…”
JPEGMAFIA is an artist pushing boundaries and breaking the barriers of genres and styles. All My Heroes Are Cornballs takes what fans could understand from Veteran, whether that was experimental production, random samples from the internet or passionate political lyricism, and created a new project which expanded on these foundations. Most tracks are filled with heavy, saturated drums, bass and samples that will suddenly switch into smooth melodic sections. These sections are clearly influenced by the internet born genre 'vaporwave' in the use of pads and pitch editing, reiterating the notion that Peggy is a voice for this generation by taking internet-born genres and using his clever lyricism to create a concise project. These melodic sections heavily feature Auto-Tuned vocal deliveries which, for the most part, work. However, sometimes these sections can become a little tiresome; overall, it's a small complaint considering how the rapper continues to push boundaries and pursue new sounds.
Veteran already established Peggy as a clever lyricist with dark humour, using his voice to discuss politics, racism and relationships. However, in this new project, he uses his humour even more and, combined with these new melodic sections, it's clear that the artist is painting a sharp contrast between the lyrical content and the way it is conveyed. This humour is never too much for the listener; it creeps in throughout the album, and the album title and track names indicate these mannerisms. In “BasicBitchTearGas”, the rapper covers the TLC track “No Scrubs” with vocals and production that create an uncomfortable atmosphere. “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot” and “Beta Male Strategies” are tracks Peggy uses to discuss relationships and masculinity, while the track “Post Verified Lifestyle” is all about him dealing with his success and changes in lifestyle. He also makes references to his past in the military with the track “PTSD” and “PRONE!”, and as the album progresses, it is clear that the artist is still dealing with changes in his life and experiences which haunt him to this day from serving his country.
Despite the melodic sections and use of Auto-Tune, this album isn’t accessible to the average listener and it's a project that requires an open mind to appreciate its message and concept. It’s not perfect, and there are some moments that don’t always work, but this type of album doesn't focus on reaching perfection. It’s all about Peggy's passion and the message he wants to convey to the listener through his many abstract methods. During the release of the project, the rapper has been posting on social media asking his listeners if they are disappointed with the album. The way he asks this question is full of sarcasm and hints at his lack of care if anyone was actually disappointed, and again hints at meme culture through his usage of emojis and edits.
All My Heroes Are Cornballs is a sign of development for an artist who continues to explore new sounds and concepts through a cohesive collection of tracks, and there is little doubt that many fans of Peggy will be disappointed with this album. A voice of a generation surrounded by social media and a rapidly changing environment, JPEGMAFIA will undoubtedly influence many artists for his attitude towards society and his continued experimentation with production.
Best Song: Beta Male Strategies
Worst Song: BASICBITCHTEARGAS