Remember when you were in high school and the new Explosions in the Sky album came out and you’d immediately look through the track list at all their vaguely poetic, totally lyricless songs and be like, “Damn, that’s beautiful” before you even heard them? Well, JPEGMAFIA’s discography is sort of like that, though his track lists feel like they were extracted from a good tweet instead of a particularly moving poem—often verging on controversy, as with a 2016 song called “I Might Vote 4 Donald Trump” from a record called The 2nd Amendment.
The rest of his music library mimics this clickbait-y titling method, often with much more verbosity—or the opposite, as in the case of one particular track name that’s simply an emoji. The boundary between web #content and his recordings (not to mention his merch) has never quite seemed to exist, and describing Peggy to anyone less online than you would be just as hard as explaining, say, Dril or feral hogs.
With all outside influence of the songs themselves put on hold, let’s take a sec and appreciate a few of the best song titles JPEGMAFIA has written to date.
10. “I Just Killed a Cop Now I’m Horny” I’m a little wary of including a song with a title that’s this edgelord-y. I’m also wary of including it on such a goofy list, because it certainly isn’t a goofy song—the opening guitar sample is frankly really beautiful, while the lyrics are mostly concerned with the threat of gun violence at the hands of on-edge police officers. “Hope the cops don’t shoot my friends” goes the despondent outro before a chilling audio clip of a room full of people reciting “My god and my gun” closes out the track. All this to say the title isn’t edgelord-y for the sake of shock value, but rather speaking to the serious issue of our country being a police state, using language lifted from chat rooms where such sentiments would be reviled.
9. “Hop Out the Pussy I’m 21” On an entirely different note, “Horny” was preceded by a song called “Hop Out the Pussy I’m 21,” a track with lyrics one would expect from a song called just that. “Literally, this means that when Peggy was born he was already 21 years old,” notes one astute Genius annotator. It’s a rap brag that’s exactly as earnest as it is ironic, as intimidating as it is absurd.
8. “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot” You know that thing where you see people your age or younger having an intense conversation about serious relationship problems, but their entire lexicon is comprised of incredibly online terminology specific to social media? You’ll see someone in tears, and it’s not because their significant other cheated on them, it’s because they tagged the wrong “Jessica” in their Instagram story, or stopped favoriting all their Tinder messages. Yeah, that’s what this one makes me think of.
7. “I’ll Never Forgive Hipsters for What They Did to Brooklyn” There are plenty of songs about gentrification, but none with such blunt lyrical intensity (“Better get the fuck out the city man / Hipsters get the fuck out this motherfucker, man”)—or a title that’s so forward. Or declarative.
6. “This That Shit Kid Cudi Coulda Been” Kid Cudi’s been a lot of shit, but, before 2018, most of that shit was a less-than-perfect songwriter. I think most of us had the same frustration—he seemed like a cool guy, hung out in cool circles, and always found super interesting guests to play on his records, but his albums were never as good as we’d hoped. Enter JPEGMAFIA: a member of the endlessly interesting Deathbomb Arc crew who was about to record with the Future Islands guy at this point (and, by 2019, a handful of fascinating young voices in rap and electronic music), all while making killer records himself. Truly that shit Kid Cudi coulda been.
5. “Wavves” This one has aged particularly well—Wavves jokes have always been funny, but this one definitely gets bumped up for Nathan Williams continually trending on Twitter for bizarre non-music reasons, such as talking addiction on ESPN, or lording over land. While the property-owning rocker never gets name-dropped in the track, there’s plenty of shoutouts to “white bread chicken shit bitches,” not least of which “Roman Polanski…Polusky?…whatever.”
4. “2015 Was a Great Year” I mean, you’ve seen Fury Road, right?
3. “Black Ben Carson” Succeeded by the track “Black Steve Austin”—which reasonably calls out our culture for demonizing the abusive behavior of black artists like Chris Brown while white men like Steve Austin go unscathed—“Black Ben Carson” is an extremely funny name for a song and the album it’s featured on as Ben Carson is, technically, a black man. Although it seems improbable that any person of color—or any minority of any kind, for that matter—would belong to the Republican Party, Carson went so far as to run for President of the United States of America in 2015 with right-wing ideals. He didn’t win.
2. “?” For some reason there are a number of references to Maculay Culkin on JPEG’s 2018 album Veteran, the least explicit being the Munch-homaging scream Culkin trademarked in the 1990 home invasion film Home Alone which has since been emoji-ed and used as a track title on the record. It’s totally un-Googleable (and is often referred to as “Panic Emoji” for this very reason), which I think is peak punk rock in 2019.
1. “I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrisey Dies” Every time Morrisey says something incredibly fucking stupid I think to post this to the timeline—but every time a dozen people on the timeline beat me to it. This has immediately become the ubiquitous “fuck Morrisey” anthem (not that there are a whole lot of others), calling out a man still seen as uncancelable just because he wrote “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.” The Smiths can live forever, but I cannot fucking wait until Morrisey dies. FL