Last Friday, critically acclaimed rapper JPEGMAFIA released his much anticipated album “All my Heroes are Cornballs”. The follow-up to last years break-out hit “Veteran”, many rap enthusiasts were eager to see if the Baltimore product could replicate his success. Luckily for listeners, he did so and more, surpassing “Veteran” in nearly every regard.
“Cornballs, in my opinion, works best when coupled with “Veteran”. “Veteran” represents a sort of daytime. Its loud, confident, and very much present. “Cornballs represents night. It’s calmer, more reserved, and more openly introspective.
Peggy, as he’s known by fans, really seems to open himself to criticism and hatred here, more than ever. In simpler terms, he’s exposing himself to the world.
Opening with hit single “Jesus Forgive Me, I am a Thot”, Peggy seems like he is trying to contain himself. With short spurts of production similar to Veteran representing, to me, the conflict inside of the artist.
Following this are most of what would be considered the “harder” songs on the album, like “Keenan vs. Kel”, a song about defeating his enemies, “Beta Male Strategies”, in which he calls out keyboard warriors, and “JPEGMAFIA TYPE BEAT”, which is basically just Peggy showing his self awareness by making a ludicrous, industrial sounding beat.
Following these tracks is standout “Grimy Waifu”, in which Peggy comically talks about his love life. “PTSD”, “Rap Grow Old and Die x No Child Left Behind”, and the titular “All My Heroes Are Cornballs” are the next trio of tracks.
These cuts delve into Peggy’s deep seeded issues with society as a whole, ranging from the controversial No Child Left Behind policy enacted by the Bush Administration, to celebrities who are treated as deities despite being less than ideal humans, and finally his own mental issues due to the war and previous troubles.
“BBW”, “Prone!”, and “Life’s Hard, Here’s A Song About Sorrel”, differ slightly in theme, focusing on a range of subjects including murder, drinking, and Peggy’s own self image. While these tracks are in no way bad, they do represent what I feel is the weakest point in the album.
The next five tracks are the strongest stretch of songs I’ve heard on an album in quite some time. Every track, even “BasicBitchTearGas”, shows to me Peggy at his most open. He talks about how his life has changed in the last year, going from underground prodigy to indie darling, and how he feels about the scrutiny he has been put under.
“Thot Tactics” and “Free the Frail” are amongst some of the best songs released this year, and deserve much more recognition than they have received from the mainstream audience.
Closing the album with a variation of his freestyle “DOTS” that was featured on producer Kenny Beats YouTube series “The Cave”, the interlude “BUTTERMILK JESUS TYPE BEAT”, and “Papi I Missed You”, Peggy looks back on his work success’ to failures, deciding he accepts it all.
That seems to be the underlying message of this album. Accepting criticism and persevering in the face of it. JPEGMAFIA will no doubt continue to create controversy, and I’m excited for it.
We need more artists to think outside the box, and not be contained by public perception. Hopefully, this album can have some form of ripple effect in that regard. I wouldn’t recommend you hold your breath, though.
Header photo courtesy of JPEGMAFIA’S Facebook page.