JPEGMAFIA: Hip-Hop’s Exciting Underdog Is Killing It Right Now
Hip-hop is a reflection of times.
The art form exploded in the ’80s as young black men found their place in a post-civil rights America. And in the 90′, more underprivileged voices joined the mix as hip-hop became a way to critique authority and corruption.
Today, hip-hop reflects uncertainty. Whether that be trap rappers turned pseudo-conscious artists who want to relay their thoughts on the global and national crises. Or the ever-growing feminine voice in hip-hop which has to reconcile with the hyper-masculinity of the genre.
One thing’s for certain, there is no longer an “alternative” form of hip-hop. And nowhere is that more evident than with Brooklyn rapper JPEGMAFIA.
JPEGMAFIA: Hip-Hop’s Dark Horse
Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks, professionally known as JPEGMAFIA is changing hip-hop forever. JPEGMAFIA is an amoeba — he introduced a radical new sound in hip-hop and is slowly assimilating rap’s mainstream into it.
Mainstream hip-hop doesn’t see JPEGMAFIA’s sound as something to ostracize or throw into the bin of “alternative,” instead artists want to get in on the exciting new action. Whether that be popular electronic musician “Flume” working with JPEG or PEGGY collaborating with rising legend Danny Brown.
Albums like JPEG’s last full project, “All My Heroes Are Cornballs” or his genre-defining magnum opus “Veteran” isn’t alternative hip-hop, they are hip-hop. The genre is getting loud, it’s getting uncertain, and as PEGGY points out in an interview with Flood Magazine, hip-hop is getting weird.
“Everything is fucking weird!” JPEGMAFIA told the interviewer. “Lil Nas X’s song is weird. It’s a country rap song with a Nine Inch Nails sample. That shit doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Society has adjusted to accept rap in its weirder forms—which is great to me, because rap in its weirder forms means that weird black kids are accepted in their forms now, too.”
Pushing Experimental Hip-Hop Over The Edge
Before artists like JPEGMAFIA, or west coast outfits like Tyler the Creator, Clipping., and Death Grips, the sub-genre of experimental rap hadn’t been pushed to their fullest.
We had artists who undoubtedly blazed trails for these artists, videlicet, ODB, MF Doom, Madlib, El-P, and Ishamel Butler, to name a few, but even these unconventional rappers still fell into the bucket of classic hip-hop.
But when Death Grips started screaming over abrasive electro-metal type beats; or when Clipping. stiched together Frankenstein-type monster songs that put the fear of God into the listener; or when JPEGMAFIA legitimized music that sounds part meme, and part irreverent rapping over random noise effects, that’s when experimental hip-hop got pushed over the edge.
JPEGMAFIA is a trailblazer in the rap industry; and right now he’s cementing his legacy as a founder of a new form of hip-hop — one with no barriers.