On September 12th, 2019 Baltimore’s JPEGMAFIA AKA Peggy released his latest album, all my heroes are cornballs. Along with being disappointed with the album, I was also, pleasantly surprised. In many ways, this album feels like an old school soul record, which is weird to say since Peggy is a rapper and producer who is heavily influenced by industrial music and scream-core vocalizations. However, that undercurrent of soul music that subtly permeates the project might be why this is such a fantastic album.
Since discovering Peggy through his last album Veteran, it’s always been difficult to explain his music to friends. As soon as they hear that he’s an experimental rapper/producer influenced by industrial music, they assume that he’s trying to be Death Grips. However, I’ve always seen him more like Spank Rock pushed to the nth degree. Not the current ultra-polished bounce and booty emcee version of Spank Rock, but the 2005-07 Spank Rock whose beats borrowed from bounce, electronic and industrial aesthetics.
After hearing a song like “Real Nega” off Peggy’s Veteran album, one would imagine that the next step in JPEGMAFIA’s career would be a loud wall of noise backing his vocals. But if you paid attention to the build up to the launch of all my heroes are cornballs, you would have been prepared for something different.
A number of weeks before the release of all my heroes are cornballs, Peggy’s Youtube channel started dropping videos documenting him playing the album for famous musicians and record producers. All of these videos had similar titles, “(Famous person X) is disappointed.”
By the second, or third video, his fans picked up on the bit. Suddenly, being disappointed in JPEGMAFIA was a meme. It was also a hint that we were not getting the album many of us expected.
The man sings on this record. No, the man sings well on this record. Yes, he shouts on the album. But the influence of soul music, and the music that influenced soul music, back in the day, is everywhere.
The first single, “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot,” borrows ideas from black gospel music. Along with the song “Beta Male Strategies,” it’s one of the more talked about songs on the album. However, the two songs that grabbed my attention the most were, “Grimy Waifu,” and “Free the Frail.”
Featuring Helena Deland, “Free the Frail,” sounds like a song Kanye West would have created in the late 2000’s if he spent too much time hanging out with Dabrye and Prince.
There are a number of ways to listen to this album. Whether it’s the detail of the music production; or the lyricism that forces you to replay your favorite song because you just noticed something new from it. Peggy is an artist whose fans have more in common with punk rockers than hip hop heads, so it’s a pleasant surprise that the songs are intricate and not truncated.
At the same time, this is still a loud album. Peggy is still Peggy. However, on all my heroes are cornballs, we get to hear more elements from the music that influences him as an artist. The diversity of influences on the album means that you don’t have to be a fun of punk, industrial, or rap to enjoy this album. If you appreciate any sort of experimental music you can latch on to this album as well.
But yeah, I’m still disappointed.