Music producer and rapper Barrington Hendrick (JPEGMAFIA). | Photo by Alec Marchant

JPEGMAFIA: All My Heroes Are Cornballs

JPEGMAFIA's new album is a demented ride through the rappers mind.
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JPEGMAFIA’s new album is a demented ride through the rappers mind

JPEGMAFIA’s third studio album, “All My Heroes are Cornballs,” was released Sept. 14 and it perfectly embodies the production characteristics that define his music.

JPEGMAFIA is the brainchild of music producer and rapper Barrington Hendricks. Hendricks gained interest in music by learning to sample while he was stationed in Japan with the United States Air Force.

After being honorably discharged in 2016, Hendricks moved to Baltimore, Maryland and began working on producing his first studio album, “Black Ben Carson.” In 2018, he released his critically acclaimed album, “Veteran,” which was a healthy introduction into Hendricks’ twisted, gritty version of postmodern, experimental hip hop.

The entirety of the “All My Heroes are Cornballs” album, from production to rapping, was done by Hendricks. Hendricks has yet to stray away from the things that define his music production. The choppy, industrial sounds that seem to harass your senses in the best possible way. The usual hi-hats, claps and kick sounds found in a generic rap beat are replaced with clicks, static and pre-2000s computer sounds which seem to invade your privacy. The framework for the bass and ASMR-like drum patterns are still prevalent, but this is what sets Hendricks apart from other producers in the genre.

While applying his signature drum patterns, Hendricks adds sounds that have never been used in his beats before. There are softer, inviting motifs connected to every melody behind the drums. They usually consist of a few soft piano keys with audio effects added, a lightly strummed guitar or synths that are reminiscent of ’80s and ’90s video games. The sounds radiate nostalgia, spirituality and a sense of peace which largely contrast the rough, nail-biting sounds of “Veteran.”

These sounds give a more introspective look into what makes Hendricks who he is rather than the persona he gives off in his music. The downside to the project has to do with the lyrics. He changes the flow of his raps on a regular basis but each time they still fall into a generic pattern. The lyrical content rarely strays away from the subjects of fighting internet haters with guns and being better than other artists. Most of the bars consist of Hendricks yelling one of his coined ad-libs. It’s hard to expect any different from a person who is labeled as an internet warrior with a track record of pissing off the alt-right. The lyrics become redundant and feel recycled from past albums.

Hendricks ventures more into singing on this project and surprisingly, it is one of the best things about the album. Some of the stand out tracks on this album are “Jesus Forgive Me I Am A Thot,”Free The Frail,” “Thot Tactics” and ”BasicBitchTearGas.” He harnesses the energies of 90s R&B and it perfectly ties together the crunchy, psychedelic beats to produce one of his most personal projects.

The production on this album is perfect. The chord progressions, song transitions and signature drum beats are completely on par with the JPEGMAFIA sound. The only thing lacking is lyrical variance, but the singing and melodies make up for it entirely. This can easily be one of the best experimental rap albums of the year.

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