Danny Brown Feature Artists Flume JPEGMAFIA

 I like to refer to JPEGMAFIA as the sound of PTSD. Funnily enough, he would proceed to give the condition a song on his 2019 record, ‘All My Heroes are Cornballs’. The joke has a dark reality to it. In that JPEG was deployed in Afghanistan as a part of his military service in the early 2000s. This time in the military has shaped both him as a person (see interview), but also his persona given in both performances and on record. This is clearest in the title of his 2018 breakthrough record, ‘Veteran’. 

‘Veteran’ is probably the closest thing I’ve heard in contemporary rap to Avant-Garde. The album is on the cutting edge whilst still maintaining consistency without any sort of extremes being reached to the point of it being excessive. Just see ‘Baby, I’m Bleeding’ and ‘Rainbow Six’ to see the contrast between the highs and lows sonically Peggy is willing to reach. The album is scattered with dark, almost schizophrenic soundscapes in his incorporation of harsh, almost violent moments contrasted with almost ambient/drone-like intervals. The album stands at 47 minutes, but it is an emotional rollercoaster similar to that of Danny Brown’s ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, except instead of drug abuse, we have trauma and politics. Peggy would coincidentally follow on to collaborate with Brown on his 2019 record ‘uknowwhatimsayin?’ with both production credits and features alike.

Between post-deployment and before Veteran, JPEG released two main projects. The first being 2016’s ‘Black Ben Carson’ and 2017’s collaborative effort with Freaky ‘The 5th Amendment’. Both are decent listens, with me preferring the latter. They have the ideas JPEGMAFIA would proceed to develop and shine with on his subsequent albums, but they are very much rough around the edges, best be seen on the controversy behind sampling audio of a policeman being murdered on the track ‘I just killed a cop and now I’m horny’. Which perfectly sums up his early works before rounding out with compromise on ‘Veteran’.

Wasting no breath, within 18 months of ‘Veteran’, JPEG released ‘All My Heroes Are Cornballs’. Whilst openly admitting being influenced by the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, it never really showed on ‘Veteran’. However, it shines through on AMHAC. The use of autotune and almost pop hooks show him to be incredibly flexible, (going as far to boost his 2014 cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’). Just see ‘Jesus Forgive Me, I am a Thot’ and ‘Thot Tactics’. Having said that, his brand of distorted and jarring aesthetics are still to be found on ‘PRONE!’ and ‘JPEGMAFIA TYPE BEAT’. The album is a perfect complement to its predecessor, and I couldn’t be more excited for the next instalment.

I also have to mention his live performances. To bring back the PTSD thing, it looks like his shows are an exorcism of sorts, with his flailing and screaming, jumping into the crowd and then lying in exhaustion, he resembles a possessed Jello Biafra or H.R. (Bad Brains). See here for the degree of dedication this man shows.

JPEGMAFIA remains one of the most innovative producers and performers currently rising. He's being noticed by artists such as Flume and Denzel Curry, and the hype is much deserved, and he deserves your time yesterday. Touring with this year's rendition of Splendour in the Grass, be sure to catch him when he subsequently tours in one of the major cities.

Gallery Page: JPEGMAFIA

Featured Albums: JPEGMAFIA

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