All My Heroes Are Cornballs
EQT Records · September 13, 2019
“This Ain’t Veteran… what happened?” says a smiling Denzel Curry in faux disgust to a theatrically dismayed JPEGMAFIA. Peggy’s latest release was preluded by a series of reaction videos highlighting the “disappointment” of various musicians and friends in the industry as they listen to All My Heroes Are Cornballs, pretending to hate the project. This theme of both disappointment and the fear of disappointing showcase the very tangible vulnerability that Peggy poured into this project. On a recent Instagram post he announced, “This the most ME album I’ve ever made in my life… I’ve removed restrictions from my head and freed myself of doubt musically. I would have removed half this shit before but naw f— it.” It’s this idea of embracing his own corniness and creating the album HE wants to create that makes Denzel’s wisecrack so potent. This album is NOT Veteran and that’s why it’s so fantastic.
The first track, “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot,” kicks the album off with the usual JPEGMAFIA toolbox. You’ve got your gunshots, your glass breaking, that weird clicking noise that was on half the songs on Veteran, and of course the classic Jim Johnston “you think you know me” sample. These repeated tropes lure the listener into a false sense of security until the beat transitions into a unexpectedly beautiful, melodic instrumental – an autotuned Peggy bites through the noise, crooning “you better count your blessings for reeaaalll.” This is the first sign that All My Heroes Are Cornballs is its own beast entirely.
Virtually every song features genre-bending beat switches that can flip the tone of a song from smooth chill-rap to enraged industrial screaming in an instant like on “Kenan vs. Kel” or “Rap Grow Old & Die x No Child Left Behind.” The production on this album manages to blur the line between elegant and insane so well that it’s sometimes hard to quantify how such outrageous sounds can provoke the deep emotion that they do. This is by far Peggy’s poppiest work as well, with tracks like “Free The Frail,” “Grimy Waifu,” and the title track being just a few of many that show off JPEGMAFIA’s hidden R&B repertoire. His harmonious cover of “No Scrubs” by TLC, “BasicBitchTearGas,” is another unexpectedly delightful song that, despite being a shock on first listen, feels absolutely consistent with the structure of the album.
Peggy’s trademark humor remains in full effect on this project too with lines like “One shot turn Steve Bannon into Steve Hawking” and “Big strap lookin’ like a dildo” being just the tip of the iceberg. The hilariously named “JPEGMAFIA TYPE BEAT” is a chaotic in-joke consisting of a maelstrom of screams, drums, gunshots and an Atari Teenage Riot sample that sounds closer to Death Grips than anything he’s ever released, poking fun at the comparisons between himself and the group as well as mocking the current state of production in the hip hop community. He is also not afraid to make fun of past controversies, referencing the outrage surrounding his 2016 track “I Just Killed A Cop Now I’m Horny” on “Papi I Missed You,” saying “Dead cops on my songs, that’s hilarious.” The song titles are also witty (as expected) and despite being nonsensical at times, they always impressively match up with the sound and aesthetic of the song itself.
Despite being so different from his previous work, this album feels like the natural progression of Peggy’s discography. It has the politically charged lyrics and humor of Black Ben Carson, the cohesiveness and production quality of Veteran, and the more melodic influences of his recent work like “The Who.” This is certainly JPEGMAFIA’s most personal work yet and it’s hard to find fault in such an honest, sincere, and unilaterally enjoyable project as this. Everything about All My Heroes Are Cornballs is authentic and original and Peggy’s vision is executed flawlessly.