Listening to “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot,” the first single off JPEGMAFIA’s new album All My Heroes Are Cornballs, I couldn’t help but feel like the eccentric musician was trying his best to alienate people. The hard-hitting, distorted and aggressive tone he brings is countered with glossy electronic rhythm and auto-tune crooning which at first left me puzzled. I’m still trying to figure out whether it’s a work of genius or, to put it bluntly, garbage. This, for the most part, is my relationship with this album. It’s an unsettling, surprising, eclectic and captivating release. It’s what makes JPEGMAFIA one of the most unique artists in recent years, and I love the enigma of his music and character.
While his 2018 project Veteran was a complete slap in the face with off-kilter and abrasive production, All My Heroes Are Cornballs feels more like a collage of electronic samples and compositions inspired by someone like Aphex Twin and Death Grips. “Kenan Vs. Kel,” for example features some weird synths and electronic effects, with JPEGMAFIA rapping and flowing effortlessly, before breaking into this awkward auto-tuned melody, later completely changing the instrumental up into this heavy, electronic guitar-riff that frankly sounds absolutely manic. This is what is to be expected of the Maryland artist. The vocal sample on “Beta Male Strategies” and the suffocating synth-heavy and distorted beat makes for an unsettling release, but JPEGMAFIA’s flow and lyricism is what makes this record in particular one of the best on the entire project. “JPEGMAFIA TYPE BEAT” is the exact manic, distorted and maddening beat you’d expect from him. Tracks like “Grimy Waifu,” “BBW” and “Lifes Hard, Here’s A Song About Sorrel” among others makes me question myself and the quality of the album. The auto-tune singing throughout these tracks is at times painful to listen to and corny, which maybe ties into the theme of the album. He may be purposefully trying to be as corny as possible to test people. “BasicBitchTearGas,” for example delivers a questionable rendition of TLC’s classic “No Scrubs,” as I’m left questioning the purpose of this track and sound. Tracks like “Thot Tactics” and “Papi I Missed U” are excellent to me. Electronic effects, an unsettling tone and an aggressive, confident delivery from the talented musician. Overall, the fact that this album sounds so unique and experiments with so many sounds makes it a fascinating listen despite some of my reservations about his singing, though I think that was the intention from the start. He’s an unbelievably creative producer, with some of the most eclectic, forward-thinking beats I’ve heard this year.
Listen to JPEGMAFIA’s new album All My Heroes Are Cornballs below via Spotify and don’t forget to support! Released via EQT Recordings.