JPEGMAFIA does not fuck around. “I live and die by the quality of my work, not the hype. And the minute anyone does anything to impede on that. You are dead to me”, he proclaims on his Bandcamp page. It’s a strong statement, and one that mirrors his seemingly contrarian, punk persona he has cultivated over the last few years. My first introduction to the enigmatic and experimental artist was his 2018 masterpiece Veteran, a bold and eclectic body of work that was strong on the abrasive and sonically challenging beats, as well as JPEGMAFIA’s demanding and even aggressive emceeing. 2016’s Black Ben Carson occupied that similar kind of aesthetic, and I have been a fan of his ever since. 2019’s All My Heroes Are Cornballs was more colourful in sound, taking inspiration from glitchy and more vibrant electronic music, while still maintaining this darker, more unassuming side to Peggy’s lyrics. He’s musically restless, always looking to improve his craft as a producer and emcee, and his fourth studio album LP! proves to be his most experimental, eclectic and detailed album to date.
The glitchy, glittery opener “TRUST!” is a cool way to kick things off. “I won’t even lie, I’m looking good / I won’t even fib, I’m feeling nice” he states with confidence over the synth-heavy beat. It’s this self-aggrandizing, egotistical track, a perfect way to set the tone and energy for the rest of the album. He continues that kind of energy on “DIRTY!” and the incredibly animated, almost cartoonish “NEMO!”. The crazy guitar leads on “END CREDITS!” make it one of the more memorable moments on the album, as he says “This is my career, not a dice / Never take L’s to a light”, which is not only a clever bar referencing the Japanese anime classic Death Note, but also shows how weary he is about the importance of maintaining his integrity within the music industry. He’s had his fair share of controversies and spats with people in the past, and has no time for people trying to drag him down. A lot of the time he either seems to be defending himself from people trying to call him out or dragging him down (Certain lines on “REBOUND!” featuring “DATPIFFMAFIA and “GHOST OF RANKING DEAD!” featuring Tkay Maidza for example, are apparently targeted towards Armand Hammer, but I don’t care about it enough to get into it). Speaking of “REBOUND!”, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album. The driving and heavy beat, the subtle horn loop, JPEG’s incredible flows make for an electrifying listen. It’s crazy how Peggy has this ability to create a project that is so eclectic and sonically different, yet cohesive as fuck. How the aggressive and unapologetic “END CREDITS!” manages to effortlessly flow into the incredibly soulful “HAZARD DUTY PAY!” is crazy. How the punchy “TIRED, NERVOUS & BROKE!” flows into the slightly more delicate and light “🔥” is admirable. There are clear sonic contrasts throughout this project, but this lack of cohesion in a way allows his music to breathe, live within this atmospheric soundscape he’s been able to create for himself. “BMT!” is another one of my favourite tracks on the album. That weird vocal sample along with that percussion and colourful synth leads makes for an incredible poignant listen. “Everything that y’all do is fake / Everything that I do get hate / I tell the wolves I don’t need no plate / My bulldogs gon’ eat your face” he proclaims, challenging all the fakers, haters, and those who want him to fail. It’s his rebellious attitude towards bullshit around him that makes him such an intriguing artist, and LP! just proves that he has so much left to get off his chest.
JPEGMAFIA is only improving. LP! is a testament to that. 20 tracks (on the better offline, non-streamed version) of pure experimental sonics and raps, all wrapped up in an eclectic, punchy, lavish body of work. Go check his fourth studio album out and go support!