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All My Heroes Make Really Weird Music

Devon Campbell, Contributing Writer

JPEGMAFIA’s third studio album, “All My Heroes Are Cornballs,” an experimental rap album, is a long walk through a tonally dissonant soundscape. This style is most easily seen in “Jesus Forgive Me I’m A Thot” consists of bouncing back and forth between two opposing extremes. The harsh, industrial sound bites combined with the light, fluffy tones never seem like they’re supposed to go together, but somehow ‘Peggy (short for JPEG) manages to pull it together quite convincingly. 

It feels like a collage. Every waking moment is a coin flip between a moment of bliss or a bonafide assault on my eardrums, and I’m here for most of it. On the upside, both sonically and artistically, there’s a lot to be said about this album. It seems like every time it’s listened to there’s a new sound tucked away somewhere in the mix, or a new meaning for a metaphor not understood the first time. 

On the downside, however, if you’re a person who likes organization and well-constructed systems, this album is not for you. It tends to bounce between different places quickly, making it hard to fully develop an idea of what exactly you’re listening to. As jarring as that is, a lot of evidence points to that being the point, or the intention, of this album.

“All My Heroes Are Cornballs” takes on this Lovecraftian, almost indescribable form in which it’s up to the listener to extrapolate their own ideas about the piece. It makes the listener think, “I wonder what could happen next.” There’s no rhyme or reason to how long or short a segment might be before it’s interjected by a skit, a new sound or something else. 

It may be scatterbrained in execution, but the album feels more consistent than JPEGMAFIA’s previous studio project, “Veteran.” It’s even more jarring going from song to song. More attention to detail was put into the way “All My Heroes Are Cornballs” transitions from one part to another. The songs feel like they’re part of a varied, but coherent collection of sound, rather than a group of thematically clashing pieces. 

Consistent with the majority of his body of work, ‘Peggy comes off as politically charged and well-informed about how people work. His song “Beta Male Strategies” is a take on how internet anonymity makes people want to appear like they’re tougher than they actually are, or as it’s called in more professional spaces: online disinhibition effect. The lyrics describe his distaste for the dissonance between someone’s internet persona and their physical persona. 

JPEGMAFIA is clearly concerned with a lack of authenticity, which is why he has no qualms getting as explicit or visceral as he needs to be to demonstrate that in a world that is dominated by anonymity and fakeness, he has nothing to hide. “All My Heroes Are Cornballs” is a dive into the psyche of someone who isn’t afraid to be unapologetically themselves.

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