Artist Attention: JPEGMAFIA

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Baltimore Rapper Barrington Hendricks, better known as his stagename JPEGMAFIA (or JPEG for short), released his third studio album All My Heroes Are Cornballs this past week. With 18-tracks, this album takes listeners on an interesting ride with its distorted sounds and powerful lyrics, and even an homage to TLC’s 1999 hit “No Scrubs”.

Last year, JPEG released his critically acclaimed album Veteran, a confrontational album that reflects on his days serving in the United States Air Force. This album set the tone for JPEG’s glitchy sound over trap beats and usage of satirical lyricism. Most of his music is filled with irony- not only through his lyrics but also with song titles, like “Does This Ski Mask Make Me Look Fat” and “I Might Vote 4 Donald Trump”. In Veteran, songs like “Baby I’m Bleeding,” “I Cannot F****** Wait Until Morrissey Dies,” and “Thug Tears,” JPEG pokes fun at himself while criticizing others, mocking people who listen to popular musicians like The Smiths even though he listens to similar artists. This same type of lyricism and satirical energy continues throughout All My Heroes Are Cornballs.

 Even before All My Heroes Are Cornballs came out, JPEG promoted his album by releasing a series of YouTube videos where artists including James Blake, Kenny Beats, Flume and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy shared their disappointment with JPEG and his new album after he played numerous tracks for them to listen to. It’s hard to tell whether they think the album is actually bad or if it’s all a joke. JPEG himself even tweeted saying “I hope it disappoints u beyond belief” before dropping his album at midnight.

However, the album doesn’t disappoint at all. It’s received widespread acclaim already from multiple music critics ranging from Pitchfork to NME, who referred to it as “chaotic” and “terrific.” The album features political commentary and JPEG uses his signature satirical irony to poke fun at himself and others. The first song and single from the album, “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Th*t,” JPEG talks about himself and his unique clothing, while also rapping about socioeconomic classes in America, being a black man in America and gun control reform.

In this album and other albums and EP’s prior, JPEG shows that he’s not afraid to get weird and deep with his rap style and sounds. He is mindful about his newfound fame, the new digital age and politics, and he isn’t afraid to touch on those topics through his music. 

All My Heroes Are Cornballs, along with JPEGMAFIA’s entire discography, is available on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and Pandora. 

Catch JPEGMAFIA here on tour at the Crofoot in Pontiac on Oct. 30th!

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Kristin Orr
Kristin is a senior here at UMD. She’ll be graduating with a major in Journalism and Screen Studies. This is her first semester writing for the A&E section at The Michigan Journal. Kristin is also an amateur photographer, and enjoys covering music and film.