*this review is of the OFFLINE Bandcamp release, which is slightly different from the Spotify release
WRITTEN BY: Dylan Stevens
JPEGMAFIA does not hide the fact he has anxiety. Despite having “floated right through the pandemic,” Peggy admitted to NME that the making of his two EPs and now LP! took place over “a very difficult period of time.” He continued on to credit his “different” personality to his upbringing in an abusive environment. It was on the aforementioned pair of EPs earlier this year, aptly titled EP! and EP2!, where Peggy was able to showcase his eclectic talent for focused, sincere songwriting as a multi-instrumentalist, delivering about a dozen superb pop-rap tracks entirely alone and without samples.
Peggy wears his heart on his sleeve; some highlights from the twin projects included “LAST DANCE!”, “FIX URSELF!”, and “BODYGUARD!”, the latter being a sensual ballad that explores the struggle of opening up in a relationship as a victim of PTSD. After dropping his new album LP! on October 22, his 32nd birthday, his industry gripes and underlying demons have never been more up front and personal. His sexualized perspective on a lifestyle creating art for profit in the exploitative music industry serves as the groundwork for many of the songs including “DIRTY!” and “WHAT KIND OF RAPPING IS THIS?”. The former is a shimmering track about the unclean feeling associated with achieving critical success, as Peggy exclaims, “Funny how the world caught up with me.”
He continues to serve up another piece of commentary with “HAZARD DUTY PAY!”, a song that satirically suggests rappers should receive extra monetary compensation as a result of the “pain” required to create their music. The song features a funky bassline and a looping soulful sample from the Winans and Anita Baker’s “Ain’t No Need to Worry,” that appropriately belts out the lyrics, “Sometimes we feel pain.” The song is meant to come off as tongue in cheek, but highlights a real issue in the music industry where artists convey their passion into their work only to get unfairly repaid by labels who scrape off most of the profit.
One of the most intriguing ways Peggy further scrutinizes music industry exploitation is through his propensity to represent himself in both masculine and feminine terms. It is not at all uncommon for JPEGMAFIA to liken himself to female stars such as Charlize Theron or Mary J. Blige in verses just as easily as he is to say he feels like Major League slugger “Big Papi” David Ortiz. This fluidity allows for a very unique and dynamic perspective that is no better exhibited than on the gospel-inspired “THOTS PRAYER!”, which immediately rejects subtlety when Peggy opens the song by singing the infamous hook of “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. On the track he quickly explains the exhaustion experienced with the album cycle routine he had been trapped in, seemingly comparing himself to an overworked young Britney.
The album soon attempts to blow the doors off your sedan with the banger that is “REBOUND!”, a track that finds JPEGMAFIA airing out a beef that has apparently been cooking in his mind. The song is carried by a driving horn section that lifts up Peggy as he floats over top of trap hi-hats and a heavily-compressed 808 bassline. The energy persists through to the triumphant “DIKEMBE!”, a hypnotic song about the fight to defend oneself against inner demons like former NBA big man Dikembe Mutombo, who was most known for blocking shots and wagging his finger with disapproval in the face of his opponents.
LP! winds down and wraps up with the blunt but bouncy “UNTITLED”. In one of his most robust verses, Peggy asserts his dominance in the game to the sound of an unsettling piano paired with a gliding kick and snare. This track doesn’t tie up loose ends as much as it just cuts them all off, leaving his audience with some visceral stanzas ensuring that everyone knows, even through all the sarcasm and trolling, JPEGMAFIA is someone who demands to be taken seriously.
- END CREDITS!
- HAZARD DUTY PAY!
- GOD DON’T LIKE UGLY!
- WHAT KINDA RAPPIN’ IS THIS?
- THOT’S PRAYER!
- ARE U HAPPY?
- REBOUND! (feat. DATPIFFMAFIA)
- *100 emoji*
- TIRED, NERVOUS & BROKE!
- *fire emoji*
- THE GHOST OF RANKING DREAD! (feat. Tkay Maidza)
- DAM! DAM! DAM! (OG Mix)