ACRN Celebrates: JPEGMAFIA

By Kiah Easton, Columns Editor
[Photo via Spotify]

JPEGMAFIA took the alternative rap scene by storm in 2018 with his breakout project Veteran. Elements of political activism, abstract production and shitpost-inspired lyrics brought Peggy critical acclaim within weeks of its release. 

Read more: ACRN Celebrates: Lizzo

Born to Jamaican parents, Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks spent his childhood in Brooklyn and Queens, New York, before moving to Alabama at age 13. After finishing high school, Hendricks enrolled in the United States Air Force (USAF) and was deployed to Iraq and also spent time in Germany, the Middle East and Japan. He began making music during his time in the USAF, later forming a collective in Japan called Ghostpop

Hendricks was honorably discharged in 2015 and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Starting to make music under the alias he’s now known for, JPEGMAFIA quickly released a mixtape called Communist Slow Jams and dropped another project, Dark Skin Manson, only a month later.

Taking no time to rest, Peggy moved up to dropping two full-length LPs in 2016—2nd Amendment through self-release and Black Ben Carson through DeathBomb Arc.

In 2018, JPEGMAFIA released Veteran, launching him into the respected sphere he operates within now. 

Despite breaking into the music industry and gaining access to expensive studios and well-known producers, JPEGMAFIA primarily executes his vision alone.

Releasing his most recent record at the end of 2019, he reported that he produced roughly 90 songs on his own using only his laptop. Later, he cut the mass of songs down to the 18 that make up 2019’s All My Heroes are Cornballs.

JPEGMAFIA’s creative vision is uniquely abstract, which nearly makes it impossible to take a more traditional production methodology that involves other people.

Still, after gaining critical success, Peggy’s sound has changed only slightly; his core elements remain the same. Since his initial releases, he has rehashed the pop and R&B influences that he experimented with in Ghostpop. While adding these elements, his abstract lo-fi, internet culture production style has remained consistent, which is a testament to the strength of his vision.

As a black artist, JPEGMAFIA is unapologetic, internally motivated and outspoken, regardless of the often controversial nature of his content. Compromising for nothing within his creative process is the result of Peggy’s efforts and his ethos distilled into art. He is truthful to his vision only, and his drive to create is inspiring to all.

Check out JPEGMAFIA’s latest single, “BALD!”

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