The oddly creative JPEGMAFIA takes an unapologetic swing for the fences with his latest album Veteran and manages to present a strong yet flawed product.
The strength of Veteran comes with its stylistic, moody and provocative content that pulls no punches. When Peggy is not turning his sights on Fox News or fans of Bill Maher, he is criticizing rap culture as a whole.
The first third of the project is a great showcase of his strengths and creativity, as he presents tracks worth listening to dozens of times.
The track “Real Nega” has a great sample of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Goin’ Down” and is one of Veteran’s high points. It reveals the rapid stampeding of some great production.
“Thug Tears” and “Baby I’m Bleeding” echo the above sentiments, and I couldn't help but immediately replay them after their first time through. JPEGMAFIA’s lyrical ambiguity and skill propel these tracks into a stratosphere of rap that is untouched in 2018.
Slowly across the halfway mark, the album switches gears both stylistically and in tempo. The bubbly swamp-like sounds of “My Thoughts on Neogaf Dying” and “Rock N Roll Is Dead” culminate in an unexpectedly sweet-sounding ballad with “DD Form 214,” which features some great vocals from Bobbi Rush. These tracks provide a much-needed breather from the tension built up by the project’s earlier leg.
However, instead of switching back to the style of the album’s earlier songs, everything after “DJ Snitch Bitch Interlude” starts to fall apart — except the hilariously titled “I Cannot F*****g Wait Until Morrissey Dies” with its absurdly happy beat.
The creative and provocative depths of JPEGMAFIA drift a bit too far into the experimental and abstract with Veteran’s last act. I found the listening experience of “Whole Foods” and “Macaulay Culkin” unsettling and unenjoyable.
The high-pitched whimpering sounds across these tracks reminded me of nails on a chalkboard, and the overly glitchy, sunken sounds of the album’s finale drag the project into an underwhelming conclusion.
All in all, this is one of my favorite projects of 2018 so far, and I’m interested to see the type of buzz this album gets JPEGMAFIA. Readers looking for a record that flips its middle finger to things most SoundCloud rappers shy away from may find a diamond in the rough with Veteran.
Final Grade: B-