Danny Brown & JPEGMAFIA’s collaboration on their new album Scaring The Hoes is like witnessing the impact of two eclectic asteroids colliding, creating meteorites of songs that drip upon their audience with chaos. You’re getting a dish containing JPEGMAFIA’s more industrial and experimental style with Danny Brown as the subtle ingredient holding it together. Unfortunately, the album can sometimes feel less of a collaboration and more like a JPEGMAFIA album featuring Danny Brown; however, Brown delivers with enough character to find individualized placement without feeling like he gets relegated to the back. It’s a byproduct of Danny Brown sounding less assimilated to the avant-garde/experimentalism of JPEGMAFIA’s producing style – JPEGMAFIA seemingly fits, especially having an understanding of his craft, unlike Brown, whose music is more audible chaos, comparatively. It culminates into this uniquely great project that misses the mark due to the mixing of a few songs, where their vocals don’t get propelled forward, but the chaos is nigh at every turn, keeping the intrigue tapped for constant replays.
Beyond the distinctively oblique album and song titles, Danny Brown & JPEGMAFIA’s prowess pushes them to the side as the music comes as expected – with consistency. It benefits the album as the surface layer writings can be detractors for some, especially when you want to talk about the greatness of a song titled “Steppa Pig” or “Jack Harlow Combo Meal,” but that’s their appeal, and it shouldn’t be so. However, the music and titles reflect the musical antithesis of the more popular-driven hip-hop. The music eclipses the norm and delivers an intricate array of production that’s the antithesis of prevalent hip-hop sounds today. Though the equilibrium of the two doesn’t get heard in the first song, “Lean Beef Patty,” so effervescently. It begins to take form with “Steppa Pig,” where we get this fantastic beat switch from streamlined hip-hop to more experimental, right in the second verse from JPEGMAFIA. From here, Danny Brown becomes that force who glides through most beats easily. It reinforces the notions that keep it focused on delivering quality music instead of keeping eyes on the surface layer weird.
After another beat-switching track, “Shut Yo Bitch Ass Up / Muddy Waters,” it starts hitting and missing often as the music begins to oversaturate the loudness with “Kingdom Heart Key” and “God Loves You” while minimizing impact with the shortened “Run The Jewels.” It isn’t as held together individually, despite flowing with the rest. It doesn’t allow Danny Brown or JPEGMAFIA to feel as immersed within the beat, instead getting shrouded over by them. The production’s rhythmic bombastic nature on “Kingdom Heart Key” and “God Loves You” is modestly compelling, but as the sounds get implemented, they begin to feel like a try-hard attempt to feel larger than life. That feeling seeps in slightly at the end of “Where Ya Get Yo Coke From?.” In turn, it makes one want to search the lyrics on Genius to get through these with an understanding beyond the production notes. Like with “Kingdom Heart Key,” where JPEGMAFIA overemphasizes the video game sounds at certain moments, taking away from the vocals.
It’s a slight detriment as sometimes you want to hear Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA’s verses like the smooth “Orange Juice Jones” or the kinetically frenetic “Fentanyl Tester” since they bring forth some deliciously fun bars and relativity. One moment, for example, comes from “Orange Juice Jones,” where Danny Brown raps: “Off that Casamigos, got her taco drippin’ on the floor/If them is your people, tell them chill before we up that pole/Off that Britney Spears, got me dancing like I lost control,” really letting out his inner self instead of flaunting odd excess and lifestyles. The lyricism stays consistent through most of the album, whether the two are flexing by their stylistic means or weaving thematic bars based on the song title, like on “Burfict!” named after former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Coming hard like a linebacker, the Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA bring a cadence with their flows as the horns from the NFL theme blare beautifully in the back. With “Orange Juice Jones,” you get that R&B smoothness influence being beautifully resonant throughout.
Through its up and downs, these tracks reinforce the meaning behind the album title, Scaring the Hoes – the antithesis to the current era of hip-hop, which makes more party-friendly, club bangers and sensual love tracks. These songs get more audio play instead of the alternative brilliance behind the respective artists. JPEGMAFIA isn’t a stranger to weaving an idealogy toward music where he speaks truth to himself instead of steering toward creating synthetic pop-raps, ala Drake. We’ve heard JPEGMAFIA satirize and build sensibilities through “Drake Era” off Veteran, but whatever nuance is left gets thrown out the window. Scaring the Hoes isn’t here to bring out those bumping “Too Sexy” from Certified Lover Boy, but rather the music heads who thrive off off-kilter production. It’s especially the case with its satirical sampling of pop songs, like “Milkshake” by Kelis, or the interpolations of others like “Get Em High” by Kanye West.
Scaring the Hoes is one chaotic journey that accomplishes what it sets out to do, never truly limiting the artists, despite some technical issues. It all culminates into an engaging listen-through that isn’t so much transformative but instead greater during the moment. It leaves you feeling the vibes, allowing the intricate wordplay to lay unique metaphors to boast its thematic conjectures as it goes through the motions. Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA keep distinguishing themselves through the beats, even when certain moments aren’t audible, but it all comes around to a listen that will match expectations for many.