JPEGMAFIA/Creative Commons

After releasing the critically acclaimed album “Veteran” in January 2018, the Baltimore native JPEGMAFIA, also known as Peggy, launched his career from the underground rap scene into the spotlight. “Veteran” was in your face,with aggressive social commentary over hard-hitting instrumentals and obscure samples. It was experimental. Since the release of his last record, Peggy has remained active, broadening his range of audience and musical ability. He featured on Flume’s latest work “Hi This Is Flume” and Channel Tres’s “Black Moses”. Peggy’s musical fluidity built anticipation for what could come from his next project.

On September 13th, Peggy delivered the long-awaited project. The self-produced 18-track album, “All My Heroes Are Cornballs”is a return to Peggy’s boundary-pushing efforts heard on work like “Veteran”. The album creates a platform for Peggy to follow a trail of his creative expression to no end. It carries on as a stream of Peggy’s artistic consciousness. The album is the embodiment of controlled chaos. His dynamic beats, flow and subject matter can change at any moment⁠ — as if there is always something unexpected lurking around the corner. 

The opening track, “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot” serves as a blueprint for what listeners can expect from this album. Peggy begins with a nonchalant flow over the piano-driven tracks. He then seamlessly transitions into a threatening bravado and a melodic auto-tuned chorus. Much like Veteran, Peggy ventures into sounds that shouldn’t flow together, but again makes seemingly contradictory elements harmonious.

Three tracks in, “Beta Male Strategies” follows a similar recipe. The song begins with a dark, ominous vocal sample that loops over off-kilter percussion. The beat feels comforting and Peggy is right in the pocket, yet comfort is fleeting on this record; the song abruptly breaks into a distorted guitar solo and finishes with Peggy yelling obscenities. It exemplifies how Peggy develops his sound throughout the album.

Peggy is more aggressive than ever on this record, with a hungry delivery to prove his capabilities. On the closing track “Papi I Missed You,” his ravenous flow shines. He spits braggadocious and unrelenting lines, jumping from social commentary to tongue-in-cheek ego boosts.

The constant change and unpredictability is what drives “All My Heroes Are Cornballs.” Listeners may be entranced in one part of a song, but that entrancement is momentary as the make-up of the can shift drastically at any moment. One listen is simply not enough. There is an array of sounds, lyrics and samples intricately placed throughout the album that can’t be uncovered just after the first listen. It is an album that takes time to digest. 

“All My Heroes Are Cornballs” finds Peggy more confident, outspoken and experimentally creative than in previous work. Peggy blends a mix of sounds that seem impossible to mesh sonically, but at an elevated level exhibit him at true form.