Image Courtesy of Bandcamp
By Joey Brasco
JPEGMAFIA (Peggy for short) has returned with his new project LP!, but not without complications. Due to his inability to clear samples used on key tracks of the album, Peggy was forced to release an incomplete version of LP! to streaming services. Desiring to fulfill his label contract with EQT Recordings & Republic Records, he saw fit to release this hindered streaming version along with what he has dubbed the OFFLINE version of the album, which is the one covered in this review. This version can be found on his official youtube channel and Bandcamp page.
LP! was first teased with the single “TRUST!,” an uncharacteristically positive-sounding song from Peggy, featuring a peppy beat and deceptively happy lyrics. “I won’t even lie, I’m looking good / I won’t even fib, I’m feeling nice.”
This attitude does not last, however, as a beat switch leads the song into a somber outro. The same lyrics take on a new meaning, making listeners doubt the validity of Peggy’s happiness.
Track-two “DIRTY!” was the second single for the album. It features a Memphis-hip-hop-flavored intro that gives way to a beat filled with twinkling chime melodies and booming bass.
The song’s lyrical focus delves into Peggy’s distaste for current rap trends: “Weak-a** rhymes, weak-a** lines / Same old synths, them weak-a** slides / Fresh carpool, this lane all mine.” This idea of contrasting his original sound to what he feels is a lack of care on the part of most other artists is a recurring theme on the album.
An exclusive track to the OFFLINE version is “HAZARD DUTY PAY!,” which is reason enough alone to check out this iteration of the album. The song flips a sample of “Ain’t No Need to Worry” by The Winans into a hypnotic loop that serves as a backdrop to Peggy’s relentless flows and exuberant production. The sample flows, and beats are all vying for the listener’s attention, and come together to form a song that is pure bliss. This is the album’s best song.
“WHAT KINDA RAPPIN’ IS THIS?” begins with an entrancing, ambient intro before leading into a shimmering and atmospheric beat. Peggy sarcastically opens his verse with a contrasting series of words of “risk, risk/ice, ice,” no doubt a critique of the cliches of the genre he operates in, with “ice” being a reference to expensive jewelry. The title evokes another idea—a commentary on his own music—questioning if what he is doing even exists in the genre into which he is typically grouped.
“THOTS PRAYER!” is the only real lowlight on the album. Despite the ridiculous title and cheeky interpolation of Birtnany Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” the song is not one of the album’s most interesting.
“REBOUND!” is a fiery example of Peggy’s best characteristics. Aggressive flows go over an expertly crafted beat, featuring an addictive descending baseline with melodic horn leads.
Peggy is monstrous on this track, toting confrontational lyrics like, “Why would I pray for your health? / Baby, I pray for myself!”
“OG!” sees Peggy implementing a sample of Just Ice’s “The Original Gangster of Hip Hop” to craft an entrancing track that is equally old school and futuristic. This song sees Peggy reigning in some of his more abstract tendencies, as he implements a more casual flow than normal.
Still, Peggy’s trademark biting lyricism makes its way into the song as he takes shots at his record label, rapping, “And when this album over, work for nobody for free / And when this album done, work for nobody but me.”
“TIRED, NERVOUS & BROKE!,” with its extended and ear-grabbing chorus, would be enough to make it a highlight already, but the outro to the song elevates it to a new level. It features an acoustic writing session between Peggy and singer Kimbra, which is equally beautiful and heart-wrenching.
The intimate moment features the tragic lyrics, “You’re selfish like me / It’s why we get along famously.”
“UNTITLED” sees the album ending on a bit of a cliffhanger. Set over a cryptic, lowkey beat, the song features an expressive, melodic flow by Peggy, but not much more. It seems fitting for him, leaving fans with a brief and mysterious closer, always keeping fans guessing as to what he will do next.
What should never be in question, though, is Peggy’s dedication to originality and innovation within the hip-hop genre. Written, produced, and mixed entirely by Peggy himself, LP! is a pure expression of artistic vision. The album is experimental, but never at the expense of blood-pumping energy and immediately memorable songs.
It is a testament to the merits of artistic freedom, removed from the constraints of label executives not primarily focused on the music. Having fulfilled his record contract with this release, the trajectory of JPEGMAFIA’s already enthralling career has been given a hefty increase of intrigue. Whatever he goes on to do musically, LP! will serve as a marker of a new era for Peggy, one as a completely uninhibited artist.