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In 2018, finding a piece of media that satirizes left and right-wing politics without veering into pretentious “South Park” territory is difficult. JPEGMAFIA’s “Veteran,” however,walks the delicate balance between edgy and humorously-conscious with great confidence.

“Veteran’s” contentfinds performer and producer Peggy, stage name JPEGMAFIA, criticizing gentrification, street drugs, his veteran status, what it means to be a satirist or basically anything else under the sun. The track “14/88” sees Peggy directly addressing white supremacy and police brutality with full bravado; alternately, “Rainbow Six” has the lines, “It’s the young alt-right menace. . . I be rapping they be triggered.” Or the bombastic opening line, “Selling art to these yuppies getting mixed offers.” It’s clear that JPEGMAFIA has no problem attacking his liberal fanbase as much as the extreme conservatives he openly despises. On “Veteran,” they might as well all be the same; people not attempting to understand the complexities and hardships that make up his cultural experience.

“Veteran’s” shining star is Peggy’s production. The backing instrumentals here are glitchy, the melodies warped and the overall sound something akin to organized chaos. If the sound were visuals, it might be a massive metal sculpture slowly falling apart piece by piece. The tracks “Thug Tears,” “Baby I’m Bleeding” and “Rainbow Six” feel like strange, hijacked pop rap songs. Occasionally, Peggy’s delivery feels influenced by the likes of Lil Uzi Vert or other mainstream hip-hop artists. On the other hand, “Rock N Roll is Dead,” the outro to “Whole Foods” or even “Macaulay Culkin” are brought to life by mellow, guitar-centric instrumentals. Sonically, this album has an incredibly wide palette for clocking in at forty-seven minutes.

The songs have complex structures, animated by direct lyrics and aggressive performances. Occasionally, Peggy’s lyrics can feel a bit bland or undercooked. Sometimes ideas enter a song and don’t feel like they’re really fleshed out before leaving; this is in part due to a majority of the songs running under two minutes each. The performances often more than make up for the lyrics, however, as Peggy tries on a variety of flows and flexes his vocal range. Intermittent vocal effects also keep things fresh. In particular, “Curb Stomp” finds Peggy at the peak of his performance, combining his blunt lyrics and fever pitch production to make a heated and dense album climax.

If you’re looking for an underground hip-hop album with eccentric production and creative energy, but still need a bit of accessibility, JPEGMAFIA’s “Veteran” may be the album for you.

Best Tracks: “Baby I’m Bleeding”, “Rainbow Six”, “Curb Stomp.”

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