MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT ORGANIZED ENOUGH TO TALK ABOUT THIS ALBUM BUT HERE I AM ANYWAY. Last Friday, Baltimore’s own Jpegmafia released the follow-up to his critically acclaimed album “Veteran,” “All My Heroes are Cornballs.” And man… I don’t know what else to say… I’ve never heard anything like this; it’s incredible.
OH SO YOU WANT SOME CONTEXT? HERE! HERE’S SOME CONTEXT! In January 2018, Jpegmafia, aka “Peggy,” released his sophomore album “Veteran.” The album featured nothing but insane production, energetic performances from Peg and sharp lyrics on every track. The album landed on many best of the year lists eleven months later and, as a result, increased Peggy’s notoriety exponentially. How Peggy would build off “Veteran” was hard to say. “Veteran” was already very experimental, very dense sonically and very satirical. It already featured a track called “I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies.” So where did he have left to go on “All My Heroes Are Cornballs?”
… Now what?
GOODBYE MUSIC, HELLO WASTELAND. This album is beautifully chaotic, but in the same breath, there’s something very simple about it. First of all, it’s completely dominated by a pure irreverence for traditional song structures. Beats switch without warning, like in the opening track “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot” which almost feels like a bridge between this album and “Veteran.” The track switches back and forth between a heavenly melody and what sounds like Peggy shouting over a car crash. I don’t want to say the tracks on this record are quiet, but compared to a lot of the very loud, dense tracks on “Veteran,” it almost feels relaxing. On the production, Peggy’s doing more with less; the beats are less compressed on this record. For instance, the beat for “DOTS Freestyle Remix” is comprised of literal fire, some drums and a synth lead. He also makes a habit of letting the instrumentals speak for themselves more on this record like on the many breaks in “Beta Male Strategies” or the two different “type beats” on the album. These songs are much more melodic than “Veteran’s”—Peggy does much more singing as well—yet these moments are really just as aggressive, even songs like “BBW” that have a very pretty instrumental feature lyrics like “Don’t meet the lord filled with lead.”
… What am I even talking about?
Meanwhile, Peggy still hates racists and the alt-right as much as ever, but some new themes appear on this record. The rollout to this album was accompanied by a series of disappointments, where he’d show other musicians (and Hannibal Buress) previews of the album, each of which began with the artist shitting on him. The refrain on the track “Free the Frail” shows how expectations have been occupying Peggy’s mind. “Don’t rely on the strength of my image, if it’s good, then it’s good, that shit is out of my hands.” Even the title of the album, “All My Heroes are Cornballs,” critiques fame and legacy, referencing how fame is constructed and questioning whether those heroes were ever deserving of fame in the first place.
NO, I DON’T WANT YOUR NUMBER, NO. Pretty much all these tracks on this album stand out for one reason or another, but I’m going to try to keep this brief. “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot” is gorgeous. “Beta Male Strategies” features Peg insulting 4chan users with their own lexicon. The legacy theme appears here as well when he says “when I die my tombstone is Twitter.” I think on “JPEGMAFIA TYPE BEAT” Peggy is almost trying to parody his own sound, but it still sounds incredible and features a great beat change. On “Grimy Waifu,” Peggy compares military practices towards guns to owning a body pillow. “Thot Tactics” is one of the catchier moments on the album where Jpeg sings “I wanna be your girl, I wanna rock your world.” And then towards the end of the album on “BasicBitchTearGas” a cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs” comes out of nowhere.
Rap music looks a lot different than it did just five years ago (Remember Fetty Wap?). But now Peggy’s making it feel as if rap music is evolving so rapidly that it evolves over the course of this album. The way he weaves all these different sounds into these absurd tapestries is just an unbelievable piece of artistry. OF COURSE, BEN SHAPIRO DOESN’T THINK RAP IS MUSIC AND HE WENT TO HARVARD AND HIS DADDY WENT TO MUSIC SCHOOL SO WHAT ARE WE EVEN TALKING ABOUT?
This album is just so unique. It’s almost as schizophrenic as the internet. It’s self-referential; it’s structureless; it’s cancerous; and it’s wildly entertaining. This review was so tough because at heart, I’m really just at a loss for words. I don’t know whether or not this is the best album of the year. I don’t feel like I know anything anymore.
On a Sept. 15, 2019 episode of The Ben Shapiro Show, political commentator Ben Shapiro said that “rap is not music.” Shapiro’s comment also references a previous tweet “Fact: rap isn’t music. And if you think it is, you’re stupid” posted on Jan. 9, 2012.