Ever since I’ve heard the two rap bars: “Oh my god, Peggy, Peggy, you’re so good/Fuck whoever said you up to no good”: each JPEGMAFIA record has come and gone as an ethereal experience – some fans begin to reflect the absurdist humor within his rhymes, like dropping at the moment to one Peggy’s many jams – grooving while your mind warps through dimensions. He continues to take us through similar dimensions in his new album, LP! Oddly, his creative juices have been stirring like wildfires, melding these fantastical melodies and percussion notes that he chose to take LP! in two different directions. There is both an online and offline version to the album, delivering unique complexions as we see him rapping and singing more confidently. Unfortunately, it isn’t up to par with his best work.
Reflecting effortless cohesion on both sides of each record, LP! shows JPEGMAFIA on a tear through his mind, exhuming a dissidence in emotional tones you’re sometimes on a whirlwind adventure in music. Though, that doesn’t come as a surprise, with the stagnated track titles throwing you through loops of wonder with the words he evokes. “TIRED, NERVOUS & BROKE! (SICK, NERVOUS, AND BROKE!)” gives the weight of having varying versions of the album, as he vaguely descends into a few anecdotal points of reference, like his creative juices pulsing within his veins. JPEG delivers these notions sporadically, losing sight of focus as he adds layers to the musical construction with Kimbra.
“You can alternate any of those, whatever you want” – the words uttered by JPEGMAFIA at the end of “TIRED, NERVOUS & BROKE! (SICK, NERVOUS, AND BROKE!),” interplaying into the coordination of song titles. The fourth song on the tracklist is titled “End Credits,” breathes like a slight personification of JPEG and his career through the years – breaking through, taking gambles, and working on everything himself – stressing inducing, but worthwhile in the end, for both him and the fans. There is little structure to the coordination of the tracklist, allowing for fans to create a setlist using both versions.
But with JPEG putting his soul into the music, even when some of the songs don’t land compared to others, you’re still kept afloat amongst the many good to great songs. It reflects on LP! – specifically in the different versions. “End Credits,” which appears in both versions, has a faster speed in the Offline version – compared to streaming platforms.
Unfortunately, one issue that constantly wanes over as fans of JPEGMAFIA is accepting the music at face value (time-wise). As it’s been since Veteran, he has created these phenomenal songs that run short, leaving you feeling like the hunger hasn’t been satisfied enough. “What Kind of Rappin’ Is This?” has two different run times – the offline version clocks in at three minutes, unlike the online, which clocks in at a minute-fifty two. The longer version doesn’t add what I would have liked to see, but the mystique behind JPEG fully getting into his production bag continues to show wonders. Since All My Hero Are Cornballs, JPEG has been focusing on exploring sounds beyond the sonic friction of his earlier sound.
As a fan, you adjust to the consistencies an artist or producer delivers – JPEGMAFIA’s is the gritty industrialized sounds, pitches, and rhythm. It is slightly stagnant on the new album, as the tempo switches to match the feelings he evokes to tear down his walls, like on “(Kissy, Face Emoji!)” where JPEG sings over this smooth jazz-influenced intro before diving into heavier percussion on the refrain and transcending back. He’s focusing on elevating his production from a simple hip-hop production on “Are U Happy?” to interloping the chorus of “Baby (One More Time)” on “Thot Prayer” – keen details enthrall you before you begin to wane your attention. Many moments take you by surprise, especially since we’ve only had a taste of his deviation from the grungy/gritty-industrial sounds and abstract humor from witty bars.
LP! isn’t devoid of quality lyricism, containing great metaphors and intricate wordplay, though some of the highlights come from the offline version, where JPEGMAFIA includes “Hazard Duty Pay” and “Untitled” – both come firing ballistic missiles with auto-aim on. On “Untitled,” he flips between the straight-face shooter and the calm flexer with lines like “In the grave likе Pa, I’m heated/Amazon’s fresh at your door, bring the beef in.” It adds range to most of the sounds on the album and adjusts the number of times his industrialized core is apparent in the production, akin to “Rebound,” which appears in both versions.
LP! is raw. It is filled to the brim with interpersonal raps and linguistic gymnastics as JPEGMAFIA delivers how he feels like a creator. The visceral imagery on both sides of the coin continuously glows in front of the many aspects that make the music great, especially in Part II of “TIRED, NERVOUS & BROKE! (SICK, NERVOUS, AND BROKE!),” where JPEG and Kimbra create a melancholic unison. It may not be my favorite JPEG album so far, but it packs enough punch to be a solid follow-up to his last album, All My Heroes Are Cornballs.