JPEGMAFIA All My Heroes Are Cornballs

[EQT; 2019]

Styles: please delete your account
Others: Sweet Trip, James Ferraro, Atari Teenage Riot

JPEGMAFIA makes music for the escapists on the fringe, the pursuers of connections and recreations, the individuals multiplying themselves across fantasy leagues and Twitter stan accounts. But it’s also music for what they represent: entities trapped in the floating ecology of the web, separated from their bodies by a formless nether that demands interaction, intrusion. You’re there. You’re not there.

JPEGMAFIA understands our predicament, and he’s going to make you feel something. Over 19 tracks, All My Heroes Are Cornballs dares you to confront how you see yourself, how you see others, and how you see Barrington Hendricks a.k.a. Peggy. Or you may just think the album rips. It doesn’t have to be either/or, a fact musically reflected in Peggy’s propensity to stop on a dime and burst into new sonic avenues. The album seizes on psychological tricks, referencing long-dormant sounds from the past and discarding them just as easily. He leans into a demented urgency, consecrated by our culture of never-ending browser tabs and thousands of forgotten yet still retrievable forum posts, unseen until stumbled upon during deep archaeological expeditions into bodybuilding.com.

Beatwise, this is among the strongest showings all year, which is no small feat considering juggernaut contenders like Fever, Zuu, and Anger Management. He knows he’s 2019’s answer to Carl Crack, and that gives nice insight into his mentality. Whether it’s the Atari Teenage Riot homage “JPEGMAFIA TYPE BEAT” — a tongue-in-cheek track about his endless comparisons to Death Grips — or the outro warps to Grimy Waifu — the album’s closest brush with a romantic ballad — Peggy performs mental lobotomies while figuring out what he wants his beats to sound like. They’re perfect accessories to a man with blistering intensity, who is unsatisfied until he finds the perfect way to call all his haters dickheads.

Does it feel like he sometimes he leans on his persona too much? Who knows. But as a transient Army dropout turned digital rap warrior with a tripcode, hellbent on crowdkilling anyone in his sight, could you blame him? It’s hard to tell when the “genuine” Hendricks ends and the “performative” Hendricks begins, but that’s what makes him so captivating. JPEG is focused on toppling false idols, giving power back to the people. The hammer & sickle in his Twitter bio is not for show. There’s never a sense of artifice. Pretense is not in Peggy’s vocabulary, and this idea is shown throughout the album.

To me, All My Heroes Are Cornballs is most analogous to James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual. Both artists draw from the same pool of internet anxiety, with JPEG’s memetic technology and kinetic mindset paralleling Ferraro’s dread of automation and late-stage capitalism web osteria. But while Ferraro documented the horror of far side virtual from above, Peggy is in the eye of the storm, pushing against our structural confines. All My Heroes Are Cornballs serves as an electronic manifesto for his fans, guerilla warfare of the auditory kind. Umberto Eco would be proud.

Eureka!

Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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