JPEGMAFIA: All My Heroes Are Cornballs (EQT) - Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, August 10th, 2020  


All My Heroes Are Cornballs


Oct 07, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In the months leading up to the release of his third studio album, All My Heroes Are Cornballs, JPEGMAFIA has teased the prospect of disappointment. Since its announcement he's shared multiple cryptic entreaties ("ALL I WANT TO DO IS DISAPPOINT U" read one Instagram post), posted faux-insulting listening parties with everyone from Kenny Beats to Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, and encouraged his comment sections to chime in with anticipatory 0/10 scores. The big joke, of course, is that the finished product is anything but.

It's this kind of knowing meme-making that surrounds and seeps into all of JPEGMAFIA's output. He's not a soundcloud rapper, he's an online anti-hero. He siphons the world wide web through the keyboard of a stereotypical liberal pot smoker whilst deftly repurposing the rhetoric of Internet trolls ("I know these basement dwellers need a villain" he raps on "BBW"). Peggy isn't providing commentary on the age of the internet in the mode of Radiohead's OK Computer—he's far less consciously studious than that. Instead, his music feels like it was produced in the depths of a once rampantly active but now long forgotten internet forum.

On All My Heroes Are Cornballs Peggy takes the Internet's tendency to bunch niche interests together into a scattershot impressionistic muddle, and spits out something that sounds remarkably individual. It's there in his furiously spasmodic production. It's there in his flippant gear-switching from Auto-Tuned falsettos to conversational chatter to barely held together yelling. It's even there in his own all caps name, an open call for the formation of an ultra-hip online mafioso that exclusively trades image file formats.

What makes it effortless where earlier exercises (like the infamous police shooting-sampling "I Just Killed a Cop Now I'm Horny") felt consciously edgy is how defined Peggy's sound and persona are now. On lead single "Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot" he's cocky and camp, alternately acting as his own adlib-spouting hype-man and warbling back-up singer. His production responds accordingly, drawing parallels with pop music hooks and bridges before descending into outright delirium.

In a characteristically ironic and heartfelt social media post to mark the record's launch, Peggy stated: "This the most ME album I've ever made in my life." It's perhaps no surprise then that he seems completely disinterested in courting expectations. There's an active bleed between each and every song that makes this far and away his most cohesive project yet, and also his hardest to grasp onto. By contrast, last year's breakthrough Veteran feels positively regimented, with clearly designated times to headbang and to reflect. On All My Heroes Are Cornballs, all the lines blur. 

This blurring isn't just a product of a descent into his own experimental tendencies; it's a further extrapolation of his always-online life. His lyrics still read like they were crowdsourced from a Reddit thread, but he also circles back on the impact of Veteran's success. His flatly delivered "When I die, my tombstone's Twitter" on "Beta Male Strategies" is less a celebration of his acclaim than an indictment of such false pedigrees. If anything, he's actively moving past the weight afforded by a blue tick—on "Post Verified Lifestyle" he quietly raps "These niggas really think a handle could handle me." Even if its winkingly braggadocious, there's a hint of claustrophobia.

It's possible this airlessness just comes from his dense, jittery production. And yet, All My Heroes Are Cornballs is also a deeply melodic album. Peggy specializes in simplistic but unexpected chord progressions that catch the ear almost as much as his compressed drum patterns (ever self aware, on "Free the Frail" he throws in Helena Deland exclaiming "Such a cool chord change"). Despite his tongue-in-cheek song titles, and his jesting bluster about his rise to prominence, there's a real soul and emotion running beneath everything. As he raps on the title track, "Damn, guess who had a big year?/No whips, no chains, just a few tears."

In the end though, it's these ongoing contradictions that make All My Heroes Are Cornballs such a rewarding and compelling listen. In the sardonically titled album tease video "KENNY BEATS IS DISAPPOINTED," the prolific producer and Peggy collaborator offered a joking take: "It's not even really musical, it sounds like he's just throwing shit at the wall. The fake Death Grips shit was working...." Even if the Death Grips comparisons have always been ill-fitting, on his latest record it's clear, now more than ever, that Peggy is in his own lane. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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