JPEGMAFIA kicks off the decade with LP!, a project reflecting that his creative hot streak isn’t ending anytime soon.


*Please note, this album contains explicit language and both mature and immature themes not suitable for those under 18 or those sensitive to explicit lyrical content and art.  Also, due to sample clearance, two variants of the album were released.  The commercial version is on streaming platforms whereas the “offline” version can be found on sites like Soundcloud or Youtube.  The offline version is the variant discussed here.*

JPEGMAFIA (formerly releasing music under the moniker of Devon Hendricks) has found himself teetering between the mainstream’s newest alternative music star and mythical underground producer and emcee.  Growing up in various areas of the United States including New York and Alabama, the 32 year-old Air Force veteran, repping Baltimore Maryland, would prove to have one of the richest musical careers this previous decade.  He garnered a strong cult following with one of industrial rap’s genre defining albums, “Veteran,” cultivating a loyal sect of fans who would go on to investigate his earlier works.

The past three years, JPEG released material ranging from Veteran, to All My Heroes Are Cornballs, two eps, all the while bombarding fans with a barrage of quality singles and feature verses.  It would seem as though JPEG has been working restlessly on releases that all seem to point to the fact that he is in the midst of a creative apex that has been raging for arguably the last decade.

This all being said, I was a bit concerned going into this album.  More monthly listeners.  More guests on the feature list.  To be frank, more money.  I was afraid that the ever expanding success was finally going to “catch up,” so to speak, and the position of relative success and comfort would dilute JPEG’s freight train of creativity and innovation to a screeching halt.  That taken into account, I am relieved to say that this foolish notion was holistically and totally wrong.  To be frank, this album is phenomenal.

LP! is JPEGMAFIA’s latest full-length project, was bold, aggressive, noisy, in your face, but all the while somehow smooth, reserved, and a genuinely easy and pleasurable listen that has a lot of replay value as there is so much to unpack.  The project strays away from some of the more abrasive/industrial sounds found on Black Ben Carson, Veteran, and All My Heroes are Cornballs (although there are certainly exceptions) and continues to expand on the more mellow, glistening and dreamy synths and sounds found on AMHAC and EP2, albeit this abrasiveness being replaced by a more glitchy and fragmented sound.

LP! Strayed away from the simplistic melodies and structures on said project offering a plethora of changeups, beat switches, off kilter effects and a generally glitchy atmosphere also utilizing more vocal dynamic and energy throughout the tracklist.  There is also no shortage of autotune on the project which JPEGMAFIA utilizes to its fullest extent in all the right ways that really compliment the production and vibe as a whole.

There are a plethora of highlights on LP! including HAZARD DUTY PAY, whose grainy and distorted vocal loops accompany blown out bass lines as JPEG delivers hostile and energetic bars for a hot two minutes.  Others include THE GHOST OF RANKING DREAD, consisting of fitting vocal features from Tkay Maizda and consisting of punchy 808 drums and berating bars aimed in large part at underground rap contemporaries Armand Hammer (whose beef has since been resolved).

Then take into account the numerous switch-ups and off-kilter, oddball production choices ade throughout the song on “TIRED, NERVOUS, AND BROKE” making for a very captivating listen.  Even an interpolation of Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” makes it on the album, featuring smooth and dreamy vocals sandwiched between a glistening synth lead and laid back, relaxed bars.

Although there is no shortage of highlights on the project, there are two tracks that seem to be somewhat sub-par compared to the rest of those on LP!, those being “End Credits” and “OG!”  In themselves, they are by no means intolerable, however my distaste of said tracks boil down to production choices.  They are a touch repetitive and the electric guitar loop in “End Credits” to be somewhat strenuous on the ears and the production on “OG!” to be somewhat underwhelming.  Although not bad tracks, in comparison with the rest of the record including some of JPEG’s best works, they seem to fall short.

To new listeners, the inflections of abrasiveness and aggression within both JPEG’s delivery and production may be off putting.  Some art takes time to digest, and if you’re willing enough, oftentimes the risk is worth the reward.  

This being said, it is important to acknowledge LP! a testament to the versatility and consistency of JPEGMAFIA, seeming to be his most accessible project released thus far, simultaneously being one of his most diverse, dense, and multi-faceted.  Wherever direction he takes his unique style of production and dynamic vocal change ups, there is merely one reassurance:  he doesn’t miss.