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New music: JPEGMAFIA

By Troy Hasselman, September 20 2019 —

JPEGMAFIA refuses to log off. The extremely-online art-rap provocateur hasn’t toned down his vitriol one notch on All My Heroes Are Cornballs, his follow-up to last years Veteran. While his music has disparate inspirations with the Backstreet Boys, Wilco, Throbbing Gristle and the Wu-Tang Clan all listed under his influences while incorporating elements from industrial, noise, R&B and ambient together into a unique collage, the single biggest influence on his music remains the internet.

His songs are written in the language of the internet from a lyrical standpoint, as evidenced by tracks such as the opener “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot” , “Grimy Waifu” or  “Post Verified Lifestyle” with these track referencing ASMR, incels, shitposting and being cancelled amongst countless other phrases that didn’t exist a decade ago. The album doesn’t only use these online signifiers for simple uses as references, the tracks place themselves directly within online discourse and direct their ire towards targets such as alt-right trolls, performatively woke leftists, online critics or any of the countless imitators that have sprung in the wake of his success. 

Sonically, the album takes a more ambient approach than on Veteran, with ethereal and cloud-like instrumentals populating throughout. This makes the tracks appear to be less aggressive on-face than on its predecessor without the aggressive, dissonant beats of tracks like Veteran’s “Baby, I’m Bleeding” that turns a repeated vocal sample into a wall of noise. While noisy moments appear, like the industrial synths that conclude “Kenan Vs. Kel” , the majority of the tracks float ethereally and even approach lushness on “Free The Frail” which ends with a sung outro from JPEG and Helena Deland that is the most unambiguously beautiful music that he has made.

All My Heroes Are Cornballs shows JPEGMAFIA moving into a direction that is at once more difficult, and can be confounding on first listens, as you try and make out the contradictions that make up the album. The record is at once thoughtful and ignorant, aggressive and at ease, ugly and pretty. While fans expecting the same in-your-face style of Veteran will likely come away disappointed, this album proves to be highly rewarding on repeat listens, quietly revealing its brilliance.

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