Barrington Hendricks, a.k.a. JPEGMAFIA, a.k.a. Peggy, has had a really explosive year and a half. The last time we heard him in album form, it was last January with his project, Veteran. When Veteran came out, it displayed Peggy as a rapper with a knack for absurdly noisy soundscapes and an easily provoked anger that motivates him to challenge anyone and anything.
Veteran was loud, aggressive, sometimes beautiful, and consistently mind bending. It was the kind of album that made me laugh, had me scared, and had me checking my wifi connection to make sure the glitching and pauses were intentional (don’t worry, they were).
Veteran ended up topping many year-end lists, and earned Peggy opportunities to tour with Vince Staples and Flume. Tour was clearly a success since he snagged a feature on Flume’s Hi This is Flume mixtape, and on Denzel Curry’s TA1300 project from last year.
Peggy wasted no time once 2019 started, and spent a majority of the year releasing amazing single after single. Tracks like “Puff Daddy” with Kenny Beats and “The Who” with Eyas demonstrated how his sound was evolving beyond just noisy and loud; a general beauty and defining melodic softness were coming into the fold the way it previously hadn’t.
This evolution really became apparent with the release of the lead single from his new album, “Jesus Forgive Me, I am a Thot”, which showed Peggy’s absolute mastery of loud-quiet-loud dynamics. He was creating songs that can tear open a mosh pit, and then have the whole crowd singing N-Sync style harmonies, all while rapping about dressing up in your grandma’s hand-me-downs. It’s an incredible lead single, and perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album, cheekily titled All My Heroes Are Cornballs.
Cornballs is now in front of us, and after listening to it endlessly since it’s release, I can safely say that the hype is real on this one; Peggy took everything that made Veteran so great, and fine tuned it to create an emotive, confrontational album of cathartic, digital bliss.
One thing I noticed about Cornballs is the distinct lack of nails-on-a-chalkboard style distortion, which at times put a damper on the listening experience of Veteran, at least for me. The songs on Cornballs are still blown out, drenched in effects and cavernous, but there are more moments of beauty scattered around than before. Take the first half of “Kenan vs. Kel”, which glides along softly on gentle piano melodies before slamming you in the face with its distorted guitar leads and Peggy’s scream rap delivery.
The album doesn’t stop rolling out highlights; the ballad-like “Grimy Waifu”, the disgustingly in your face “PRONE!”, and the surreal, almost Frank Ocean like “Free the Frail” just further show how much Peggy has evolved. With a new massive fanbase, he isn’t afraid to take his distinct style and still grow it and try new things, yielding incredibly positive results.
Overall, I think All My Heroes are Cornballs is the necessary step in Peggy’s growth as an artist. He doesn’t lose the charm of his hostile, internet-born persona, and his lyrics and sonic backdrops remain scattered, glitched out, and incredibly entertaining. I am beyond happy with this new release from Hendricks, and can not wait to see what he has in store next.