EQT / Republic · October 22, 2021
JPEGMAFIA proves himself to be one of the most skilled and versatile artists in the current hip hop genre with the release of his newest record, LP!. The listening experience this record provides is not only astounding in its consistency and technical prowess, but also in its ability to remain extremely catchy and engaging throughout its runtime. JPEGMAFIA builds upon all of his previous musical endeavors and ideas on this record substantially, and it’s extremely gratifying to hear, especially in light of his more recent releases like EP! and EP2!. Put simply, with this record, Peggy delivers pure ear candy.
It should be noted that JPEGMAFIA (who also uses the nickname Peggy) decided to release two versions of this record, an “online” version that’s on most streaming platforms and an “offline” version with a few more tracks that couldn’t be released on streaming services, mostly because of issues with copyright and sampling. While the online version is good in its own right, it’s missing some key tracks that enrich the record by a huge margin, most notably “HAZARD DUTY PAY!,” “GOD DON’T LIKE UGLY!,” and “UNTITLED.” While it’s a decent option if you are intent on streaming the album, it’s obvious that the offline version is the album the way Peggy intended it to be heard, and is a truer representation of what the album was supposed to be.
The tracklist kicks off with “TRUST!,” which was released as a single earlier this year. The manic beats toward the front end of the track couple well with Peggy’s usual laid-back delivery until the hook, where his flow becomes more frantic and speedy as he remarks on how “Everything’s great, everything’s cool, everything’s perfect, everything’s good, everything’s kosher” before delivering some uniquely braggadocious bars. The track slows down before the end, giving a moment of calm before the storm that is the second track on the record, “DIRTY!,” which has one of the most hard-hitting beats on the entire record. The extremely high tones in this track are simultaneously piercing, melodic, and beautiful.
Not long after is “END CREDITS!,” which is a genuinely perfect track. It starts out with what is probably one of the hardest intros of all time, a sample of wrestler Arn Anderson insulting one of his colleagues on stage at an AEW event. The monologue is, in a word, the embodiment of violence, and is followed by a stunning guitar sample from Animals As Leaders’ most recent single, Monomyth. This is probably Peggy’s most aggressive vocal performance on the record, which is even more impressive considering it follows up the already combative “DIRTY!.” The song has this aura of grandiosity to it, as if Peggy is reaching some final form where he’s more powerful than ever. It’s an astounding cut that every JPEGMAFIA fan, as well as every experimental hip hop fan, should experience.
The following track, “HAZARD DUTY PAY!,” employs a soulful sample that Peggy just lyrically destroys. The track moves with a certain momentum that isn’t matched by much else on the record, let alone most other hip hop songs this year. Every time the audio cuts out and Peggy yells into the mic, it hits in a way that is unmatched by most other recent ad-lib/production work.
“THOT’S PRAYER!” is another highlight on the record. Not only does the intro sample a gospel song, but during the verse, JPEGMAFIA sings the lyrics to Britney Spears’ 1999 anthem “…Baby One More Time.” It’s an extremely blissful and emotional moment, as Peggy sings about how “my loneliness is killing me inside,” truly creating new meaning and context for the Britney lyrics he follows with.
“TIRED, NERVOUS, & BROKE!” is probably where Peggy’s pure rapping skill shines the brightest, maintaining an incredibly strong bond to the backing beat of the track despite constant flow switches. The hook on this track is extremely catchy as well, where Peggy raps about how “the opposition sick of me, tired, nervous, and broke.” The end of the track, though, is a phenomenal piece of music in and of itself, featuring Peggy and Kimbra singing a sweet ballad over a set of piano chords.
“THE GHOST OF RANKING DREAD!” is another song that could be considered virtually perfect, and is extremely emotionally driven. Tkay Maidza delivers some beautiful vocal melodies over the graceful, almost comforting synths. It’s a really tender and stunning moment on the record, and it’s obvious that this arrangement came from a particular place in Peggy’s mind that doesn’t come out very often in his music. Peggy’s rapping itself has a certain sass and attitude to it that shows off lots of personality. The song ends with a huge crescendo, complete with horns that add on to the melodic beat and a bass line that shakes the listener to their core before fading out.
These aren’t even the only great tracks on this record – virtually every song on LP! is pure heat. Peggy delivers quality, track for track. The record would already be good even if he just had included the previously mentioned songs, but Peggy still decided to include masterful tracks like “DIKEMBE!,” “ARE U HAPPY?,” “REBOUND!,” and “?,” just to add more variety and versatility to the record. That, truly, is where the record shines – there are so many different things on here, so many different sides of JPEGMAFIA as an artist. All of them are done flawlessly, and with very evident effort put into them.
Right before his previous album, All My Heroes Are Cornballs, released back in 2019, JPEGMAFIA called it “the most ME album I’ve ever made in my life.” To be quite honest, I didn’t hear it like that – as much as All My Heroes Are Cornballs was also a pretty great record with some killer tracks, it didn’t seem like the personal statement Peggy intended it to be. LP!, however, truly does seem like a fulfilment of this idea. It’s a record only Peggy could make. It’s a presentation of his personality in its rawest form, and as a piece of art, it’s all the better for it.