Damn Peggy: The Directors Cut.
Look, regardless of what you think of JPEGMAFIA or his music, there is no denying that this man is completely in his own lane. Sure, he makes abrasive Experimental Hip Hop (which has become quite the hot commodity as of recent, even I have a Experimental Hip Hop project!) but I truly do believe that JPEG is truly doing his own thing. Combining sweet synth melodies, glitchy production and heavy bass and drums samples with his versatile flow, Peggy feels like a truly unique artist in the modern age, and he is only getting more and more creative with time. His last two albums, Veteran and All My Heroes are Cornballs, have both been extremely polished, experimental messes that I've found extremely endearing, with it's abrasive flow, dirty and disorienting production as well as it's subtle use of melody that is weaved all throughout his discography. And that goes back to what I just said; there are very few artists like JPEG.
Hence, this album...and it's rollout.
You may be wonder "Hey Ryan, I think that you are reviewing the wrong version! There are some random tracks on this version that aren't on Spotify!", and you will be correct. In a move that I haven't seen from a lot of artists, JPEG has effectively released two different versions of the same album; an Online version that has been put on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming platforms, and an Offline version with new songs, a rearranged tracklist with new tracks filled with uncleared samples. Essentially, the Offline version is the directors cut and the Online (which is on Spotify) is the Theatrical version...which I find extremely interesting, especially since this is the last album that JPEG has with Republic Records.
So, with this rollout of both versions taking place on the same day, is there a large difference between the two projects outside of the new tracks?
Well, I'm just gonna say it; this version is better.
At it's core, both versions of LP! are the same project, and both versions are versions of a really good Hip Hop album. They are both boastful, confident, catchy, hard-hitting victory laps for JPEGMAFIA to continue to experiment and develop his production style while further polishing his flow, lyrics and delivery. In some tracks it's a much more accessible record and less abrasive then the previous records he's put out recently, with songs like the Brittney Spears inspired 'THOTS PRAYER!', the hazy 'TIRED, NERVOUS & BROKE!' and the guitar laden 'THE GHOST OF RANKING DREAD! (Ft. TKAY MAIDZA)' leaning a lot more into his melodic style that has been splattered across the other two albums i've heard from JPEGMAFIA, while tracks like the rock-oriented 'END CREDITS!', the energetic and spiteful 'REBOUND!', and the dark and...uh...dirty sounding 'DIRTY!' lean more into the aggressive rapping that PEGGY is more or less known for, leading to an album that unconsciously makes a case for JPEGMAFIA as one of the most versatile and creative forces in modern Hip Hop.
And the production? GodDAMN! Over the course of JPEGMAFIA's career, his production has gotten better and better, and this album is him working at his best, combining different types of sounds and genres to make impeccable beats. From classic 90s RnB on 'HAZARD DUTY PAY!' to the almost Aphex Twin-esq electronica of opener 'TRUST!', this album is full of excitement and a clear sign of an artist looking forward into the future to see how he can change how people see Rap music while staying true to himself. Seriously, it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement found on this album, because this sounds like JPEGMAFIA at his most fully-fleshed out and broad. He refuses to tie himself down to one sound or one style, and it makes for music that I can't help but feel inspired by when listening.
Lyrically, JPEG is continuing mission to call-out the hypocrisies of the hidden 'keyboard warriors' who want to make change without actually doing anything. From r/HipHopHead worshipping incels to the music industry as a whole, JPEGMAFIA has the wit of a South Park writer with the bluntness of a Dorian Electra song. JPEGMAFIA's songs, as he puts it himself on this record, are all 'diss tracks' in a certain sense, feeling like a series of charged up 'fuck you's that give me almost second hand confidence. This is rap music to make people who love rap music understand WHY they love all different aspects of Rap Music. From the experimental, to the accessible, to even the strange in-between, this album is nothing but filled with the passion for music, and it's extremely refreshing to hear. JPEGMAFIA has, at it's core, delivered something both unique and engaging, abrasive and melodic and extremely, unabashedly exciting.
So, now that the DNA of this album is good...what's with the two different versions?
Well, the main thing that I think has changed within the two projects is, despite being a pretty obvious change, the Offline version is the one that feels the most complete from a pacing perspective. The Online version gets all of the highlights from the original album that you'd want to hear, but it's flow and pacing is a little...off. Not bad mind you, but at least when comparing to the Offline version, the Online version is slightly off.
For instance, the song 'WHAT KINDA RAPPIN IS THIS?' in the Online version sounds really good, confident and feels like this is music that JPEGMAFIA would listen to while boxing, but on the Offline, with the preface of the gloriously feel-good track 'HAZARD DUTY PAY!' and the more soulful 'GOD DON'T LIKE UGLY!', 'WHAT KINDA RAPPIN IS THIS?' just sounds so much more triumphant. That track now has this 'try and tear me down, it isn't going to work' vibe to it that is already infectious. As well, now that '💯' is in the tracklist (I hate the fact that I have to compliment 💯 as a track), there is a lot more space from 'REBOUND!' and 'OG!' to make for something that hits much harder in my opinion.
And the main impact that this Offline version has is a much more impactful ending. One of my personal musical pet peeves is when an album has a weak or boring ending, and that pet peeve carries over to 'LP!'s Online version, delivering the tracks 'CUTIE PIE!', 'BALD!' and...'BALD! REMIX'? Not only is it weird to have tracks from last years critically acclaimed 'EP!' on this project, but to smack three of them right at the end of the project? And have 'BALD!' basically right next to each other? It leaves each listen of the online version of 'LP' on a much more unsatisfying note then I was really hoping for when listening to the album for the first time. "What is this, Donda?", I told myself.
The Offline version, however, basically remedies that problem by having an extremely understated but satisfying track to close the album out, with the song 'UNTITLED', being this hazy, piano driven oddity that ends this extremely confident victory lap on a angry reflection on fame, payment, the internet, the reception that JPEG has gotten over the course of his career, how he intends to beat all the odds in order to be successful and influential. It's emblematic of the entire career; a creative mission statement that serves to present JPEGMAFIA as a legend. His anger, vitriol, mockery and confidence of wanting more that JPEGMAFIA has been talking about this entire record is all painted out perfectly in UNTITLEDs final moments:
"More money, more guns, less vacations,
We deserve them donations
Bitch, don't play with me, play PlayStation, it's safer"
...which is much better then ending the album with a random Denzel Curry feature.
Overall, while I much prefer the Offline version, both versions of 'LP' present JPEGMAFIA as one of the most confident, experimental, exciting and colorful rappers/producers in a long, LONG time. Nothing sounds like him becuase he pulls from everything, like the Quinten Tarantino of Hip Hop. It's unique, it's interesting, and it is so much fucking fun to LISTEN to! Seriously, if you haven't really connected with JPEGMAFIA's album before, then this one might be the album to convince you otherwise.
Damn Peggy indeed.
Favorite Jams: WHAT KINDA RAPPIN IS THIS?, REBOUND!, HAZARD DUTY PAY!
Lest Favorite: NEMO!
EDIT: You can find THIS version at here: