JPEGMAFIA x Danny Brown


by Colton Game

If you’ve been paying attention to music loved by terminally online individuals for the past 5 years, you’ll know who JPEGMAFIA is. His breakthrough album, Veteran, is one of the few albums I’ve heard that I would consider perfect, and his discography from 2018 to now proves that he’s an artistic force to be reckoned with. Every release he’s had since then has received widespread acclaim, from online music nerds to critics alike.

Danny Brown is also an artist that has reached legend status from both fans and critics, yet he’s been in the spotlight for about a decade now. Yes, Peggy and Danny have consistently been releasing music for about the same period of time (both since the 2000’s actually), Danny gained his notoriety after 2012’s XXX, which was widely regarded as one of the best rap albums of the year; and 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition is still regarded as one of the best rap albums ever made. So, with these two artists having nothing but praise, how the hell would a collaborative project with them turn out?

It’s fantastic.

SCARING THE HOES is entirely produced by Peggy, which is exactly where this album shines. With every release, JPEGMAFIA has managed to rework and reinvent his production style, (unless you count EP! and EP2!, which both have a similar style to LP!, but these three releases are clearly seen as a distinct era in his discography), and this is no exception. While using the term “accessible” is very relative when talking about Peggy, I’d classify this as one of his most accessible projects to date.  To my knowledge, every beat here has a prominent sample laced in. From “Milkshake” by Kelis, to “Dear Michael” by Michael Jackson, to even some sort of Japanese meat packing commercial from the 80’s, Peggy pulls from every single corner of music that you can imagine.

There’s no true way to do this album’s production justice in writing, it’s hard to even comprehend most of the time. If one thing has been consistent with Peggy’s music since the beginning, it’s that he will throw as much at you at once as he possibly can. The sampling on “Lean Beef Patty” and “Fentanyl Tester” are easily the most chaotic in my opinion, with the former having these repeated chipmunked vocals from a Diddy song, which then pulls in these insane bass hits with these synths that almost sound like a brass ensemble. “Fentanyl Tester,” which is now one of my favorite JPEGMAFIA songs ever, has a very prominent “Milkshake” sample, and the drums on this track are indescribable. From modern-day hip-hop 808s, to a buildup of snares before another breakdown, which then turn into a breakbeat when Danny’s verse starts, these drums are a masterclass in beat switchups.

Tracks like “Steppa Pig,” “Garbage Pale Kids,” “Shut Yo Bitch Ass Up / Muddy Waters,” and “Run The Jewels” have instrumentals that would make anyone raise an eyebrow, but arguably the two tracks that are the most challenging to hear would be the title track and “Where Ya Get Ya Coke From”? The former has one of the most hideous sounding sax samples you can imagine, yet the drums and shouts of “Now work that shit!” give the track an insane punk-rock energy. “Where Ya Get Ya Coke From?” is the only track on this album that reminds me of All My Heroes Are Cornballs with its loud guitar hits; it’s almost reminiscent of the second half of “Kenan Vs. Kel.”

I’ve already focused on the production a lot, and although I still feel like I’m leaving a lot of information out, the last one I’ll focus on is “Kingdom Hearts Key.” This track is one of the most ethereal and ascendant-like productions that Peggy has ever put together. Him and Danny fit the vibe perfectly, and it’s the only track featuring another artist, being redveil. The drums drop out after Danny’s verse to let the sample buildup before redveil drops one of his best features.

While I think this album is mainly meant to be enjoyed as two of the greatest 2010’s rappers just having fun over incredible instrumentals, the writing doesn’t slack at all. It’s definitely not as political as any of Peggy’s previous work, which I miss, but I don’t think it would’ve fit with the theme of this project specifically. Not to say Peggy doesn’t voice his opinions here in his usual blunt fashion, the first spoken line off the entire album is “First off, fuck Elon Musk.” His delivery here is as ferocious as ever (especially on “Garbage Pale Kids”), but in terms of notable bars, I think I’ll give the crown to Danny. Some of my favorites here are “Eat ya ass like I'm Canibus (hahaha!)/I show up on your screen like tele-evangelist,” “Like a promise from a fat bitch saying no more McDonald's,” and “Think I need therapy, sent God a text but his message turn green,” and of course I couldn’t talk about Danny’s bars without mentioning “God Loves You.” This track not only has the most prominent gospel sample on the whole album, but it includes some of the filthiest bars Danny has ever said. His verse is so sexually explicit that I’d feel dirty even just typing it out.

This project is yet another evolution for JPEGMAFIA, and an outlet for Danny Brown to get out the verses he’s been writing since his last album. My only real complaint is that it doesn’t feel very cohesive; I think this would be a little better if it was marketed as a mixtape or a compilation, as there isn’t really a consistent tone throughout, and the tracks don’t flow that well from song to song. This is obviously a small problem I’m able to look past though, as I don’t think I’ve ever had this much fun with a JPEGMAFIA record.