Cold sweat and fever dreams
JPEGMAFIA’s latest studio-length production All My Heroes Are Cornballs is a mildly confusing experience, to say the least. In this new world of experimental perspectives, listeners must learn to be prepared for pretty much anything. All My Heroes Are Cornballs provides listeners an almost unnecessary look into the fragility of the human psyche. It feels like taking too much pseudoephed and watching television static until the sun comes up. This album causes one’s mind to enter a state of complete and utter logical disarray—and yet, this album has its undeniable glowing moments. JPEG’s wildly innovative compositions have the immense potential to spark a complete shift in listener perspective. However, the idea that is presented within the bookends of this album, falling under the category of hip-hop, may be up for debate.
There are no absolutes to cling to within this highly experimental project. This album carries with it a number of innovative methods, typically unheard of within studio level productions. For example, this album will have you constantly making sure your Bluetooth is still connected, due to JPEG’s incorporation of a number of total audio dropouts throughout numerous tracks on All My Heroes Are Cornballs. While it should be regarded that this is a very individual production technique, it does not necessarily make for a fluid experience as a listener. Another primary factor in JPEG’s innovative production is his unapologetic incorporation of highly abnormal sounds. Listeners are treated to a smorgasbord of snorts, tongue clicks, mechanical sputters, vocal exclamations, industrial clangs, and even the likes of a drive-thru order, throughout the course of this album. Whereas certain tracks pepper in these interjections a bit more evenly, tracks such as “PTSD” spend nearly a third of their total runtime inundating listeners with a rather disagreeable mashup of these sounds. Though this highly imaginative use of external sounds feels unnecessary at times, it does undeniably find its stride at a number of points throughout the album, such as the album’s title track “All My Heroes Are Cornballs.” Instances, such as these, demonstrate that it is not necessarily JPEG’s use of these sound bites that don’t always mesh, but rather the quantity of their usage and at what length they are incorporated.
Additionally, there are a number of moments where tracks seem to blend into one another, often creating a real struggle for listeners to discern between individual tracks; as in the case of “Buttermilk Jesus Type Beat” and the concurrent and culminating track of the album, “Papi I Missed U.” This particular pairing even goes so far as to steadily cross the timestamp barrier while continuing melodic themes and elements. In contrast, other tracks, including “Post Verified Lifestyle,” almost seem to begin new tracks with differing melodic themes and structures, prior to their own conclusion.
This album almost seems to harbor an unavoidable contempt toward the presentation of traditional auditory media. It carries with it the spirit of garage punk translated into the vernacular of today’s youth. Though All My Heroes Are Cornballs has its moments, the album ultimately falls victim to its own hubris at times and attempts to fly too close to the sun. There is nothing that makes this album “unlistenable” in any sense of the word—there are merely a number of instances where the lyrical and/or instrumental disconnect is just too great to overlook.
Experimentation is a vital part of any artist’s journey. Though it may cause some detours, it allows artists to find their own way. JPEG’s extremely bold experimentation on All My Heroes Are Cornballs will likely pave the way for a number of similar artists seeking to break out of the genre-based mold. In this way, despite its flaws, this album will likely play a vital role in the pioneering of genre-fluid innovation. Only time will tell…