Throughout 2020, there has been a lot of great music to come out. Sadly, there hasn't been a lot from our favorite artists. No Earl Sweatshirt album. No Tyler, the Creator album. No Kendrick album. No Playboi Carti album. And sadly, no JPEGMAFIA album. But, instead of a Peggy album, we were blessed with something just as good. JPEGMAFIA dropped a plethora of singles instead of an album. As we would've loved an album, these singles did not disappoint (or maybe they did). Since we are huge stans, we decided to rank these eleven singles from worst to best. So, without further ado, here is our ranking of the eleven JPEGMAFIA singles of 2020!
11) “Cutie pie!” (5/29/20)
To be completely honest, Martin and I had to fight for who did NOT have to review this song. But considering I'm writing to you all now; we all know won that. Rarely am I provoked to use the word “miss” when I’m describing a Peggy track, but this, undoubtedly, was a miss. This song will attract your attention lyrically, but beyond that, you may as well throw on a song by Mike Stud if you're looking for this level of production value. His flow is very monotone and would honestly sound better with no beat at all. A jazzy and rising guitar riff progresses alongside a consistent bass hit, but really does not do anything to keep you engaged throughout. The ending is the most attractive part of the single to me, as it jaunts you into a nice AMHAC-like randomness. Other than that, I genuinely found this to be a rare skip in the discography of Peggy.
10) “Rough 7” (7/17/20)
Before I get into this one, know that this is coming from someone who has never heard Tommy Genesis’ music. So, I am not trying to say Tommy is a bad artist; she has a cult following and I am sure she has bright spots in her discography, but, man—her feature was atrocious. I really enjoyed the added keyboard and bass progressions throughout the track, but Tommy’s abhorrent ad-libs throughout the intro distract me from any form of enjoyment. Sadly, her verse doesn’t add anything to the table, either. Her vocal performances were very shaky and scratchy, and her lyrics were uninspiring at best. The only reason this song isn’t at the bottom is because of its great production and Peggy’s unreal performance on his verse. Maybe I am looking at Tommy through a basic lens because of my lack of knowledge about her discography, but I really did not enjoy her feature.
9) “The Last Dance” (11/5/20)
This song really isn’t bad, but it is one of the more forgettable Peggy songs. The one thing that I really noticed in this song is that it took in a lot of influences from the other singles released. I notice a lot of the same flow and cadence as “Cutie Pie,” and the diction in the song reminds me of “Covered in Money.” The instrumental is on the weaker side in relation to JPEG's high standards, but the trumpets toward the back half of the song are a really nice addition. The instrumental kind of reminds me of something from Watch the Throne. Overall, this song isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I think it will be lost throughout Peggy’s illustrious discography (Maybe this is why it isn’t on the EP... ).
8) “Super Tuesday” (12/10/20)
“Super Tuesday” did not make our original ranking podcast due to the fact we (validly) assumed “The Last Dance” was legitimately Peggy’s last single of the year. But we capped, and Peggy blessed us with another track to top off “EP!” While the title is referencing the biggest day in American politics, this song was not anywhere near as politically driven as “The Bends!” The track was originally released as a freestyle in his fifth edition of his HTBAR series on YouTube. Not only was the song not legitimately new, but it also utilizes some past lyrics from AMHAC like, “One shot turn Steve Bannon into Stephen Hawking.” Lyrical hits like this were backed by some other comedic shots like, “N**** think he Steph Curry, boy, you Ilgauskas,” and, “Nipples on my suit, I'm lookin' for Mr. Freeze.” Musically, this song took advantage of an ear catching violin whilst occasionally tossing a nice guitar progression in the background. This song had me feeling like I was in a 1950s Baltimore saloon on a rainy Friday evening. While not my favorite track on the EP, it was a much better cap to a year of singles than “The Last Dance” initially provided.
7) “Bodyguard” (4/27/20)
“Bodyguard” is a song that is the epitome of a track I thought I would never hear out of JPEGMAFIA. Only two words come to mind when I hear it: unbelievable vocals. Genuinely, this song is nothing like anything put out prior by the mastermind. A lower autotune than we became accustomed to throughout All My Heroes Are Cornballs is employed on top of a slow piano progression reminiscent of “Pink +White” by Frank Ocean. Past the vocals, Peggy also boasts a vulnerability that has only been heard a few times prior in songs like “Grimy Waifu” and “Free the Frail.” He continually references the fact that he aches for the love of one singular person. He wants “Nobody but you.”
6) “Covered in Money”(3/25/20)
Clusterfuck. If I were to describe this instrumental in one word, it would be that. This clusterfuck has its pros and its cons, but you cannot take away the creativity of it. The sharp, high-pitched clive claps can leave you feeling uneasy. The bass boosts can sound a little fuzzy. Even the “Dos, Tres” sample Peggy uses can sound a little bit annoying. But once all mixed together, the musical goulash is something to be admired. The engineering of this musical puzzle has to at least be appreciated. Sure, I think the second part of the song cannot be topped, but if you can’t get down to this one; you have to at least respect it. The first part of “Covered in Money” is one of Peggy’s experiments that could be a little too kooky for a high spot on this list, but the song is nutty enough to give it a listen.
5) “The Bends!”(6/26/20)
Peggy cemented “The Bends!” as the most politically driven track on the EP from the second you press play. It begins with a sample of President Trump echoing a line praising his African-American supporters, and to that, Peggy says, “Shit!” Moving forward, Peggy quickly jumps into his pure resentment towards our President, uttering the bar (with a quick shoutout to Earl Sweatshirt who used to go by “Sly Tendencies”):
Maybe I'm stuck in my ways
Fantasies, fantasies, fantasies
I should rap like Sly Tendencies
Obviously, I'm who I meant to be
My leader treat me like an enemy, he a casualty
Wonder if he cry when he see fans of me
Can't believe we thought he'd be the man for me.
While I would rather not get political on my platform, JPEG is never afraid to purport his views into his music. And god damn, does he do so in a powerful way. Echoing this bar, then later rapping, “People pray for the press to impeach. Deeper down, know that vote is a loss. It's sad.” SHEESH. All of this in one verse of a 2 minute and 28-second song; Why do you think I stan this man?
Beyond the lyrical masterpiece that is “The Bends,” Peggy also utilized what I thought to be the best beat on the EP. A beautifully deep and driven synth accompanied by a lovely 808 progression keeps you wanting to hear more. On top of that, Peggy employs a riveting guitar riff that perfectly progresses higher in pitch with his vocals.
This was the first single to be released, and the Buttermilk Jesus opened up with a bang. Five months off of his third album All My Heroes Are Cornballs, Peggy blessed us with this track. JPEG uses an otherworldly guitar riff that blankets the keys in phenomenal fashion. Whether it is the beautiful flow and instrumental switches that leave the listener perplexed, or the rapid hand claps that weave in and out of the song, this sonic maze has to be respected. I never know which direction Peggy will go next. Will he go into nonstop rapping, hitting you with one-liners left and right? Will he stop the song and belch out a quick monologue? Or will Peggy serenade me with vocal performances that are drenched in tasteful autotune? This mystery is oddly pleasant and can easily be solved by giving it a listen.
3) “Living Single” (7/27/20)
“Living Single” was easily my personal favorite of the Peggy releases this year. Between the undertones of an organ-esque synthesizer and the quick cover of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby,” JPEGMAFIA beyond popped on this track. Peggy utilized a hard-hitting bass, per usual, to keep you enveloped throughout, regardless of it being a more sedated track compared to the rest of the EP. This unhurriedness was undoubtedly deliberate considering the topics lyrically were softer than we have ever seen Peggy go. The song speaks upon two separate connotations of what it means to “live single.” As Martin mentioned on the podcast, the lyric, “I love her, but I can’t even hold her,” is obviously speaking on the pain behind intimacy that is ultimately prohibited due to mixed or lost feelings. Furthermore, Peggy articulates his thoughts on himself being an artist that is “living single” away from a record company. This ideology of doing things solo has always been a profound part of Peggy’s artistry. Not only does he mix, master, and literally do everything for his music, but he also is completely independent. He may be technically under the label EQT Recordings, but the way they function allows Peggy to have legitimately no boundaries on what he puts out. He emphasizes this in his lyric, “Little bank that the big bank never noticed. Check my BMI, Lil' bitch, I am the sole owner. I need royalties, not loyalties, to fill my quota.
2) “Part 2 [the devil wears prada]” (3/25/20)
As Finn’s favorite single was “Living Single,” I think one of my personal favorites was the second half of “Covered in Money,” better known as “Part 2 [the devil wears prada].” When doing our initial lists, “Covered in Money” was boosted up to the #3 spot strictly off of this verse. The phrase “it’s dirty” marks the transition of howls and deranged verbiage to a constant string of astute lines marinated and breaded in autotune. The instrumental has warped keys glued beside each other on top of a simple drum rhythm; the perfect concoction for JPEG to decimate every sonic nuance of the beat. The lines are sheer insanity and JPEGMAFIA paints himself as an intense barbarian with no sense of remorse. “Lose it all for the nut like Louis C.K.” is the line that leaves me laughing hysterically while leaving me worrisome for JPEG’s psyche. I mean, not really, but sometimes I think it takes a crazy person to think up these wild bars. “Covered in Money” was my third-most played track of the year, and this second part is exactly why. I can’t get enough of it, and I urge y’all to do the same.
1) “Bald Remix” (5/5/20)
It’s quite a simple formula. If you have an amazing song and then bring in one of the most consistent and proficient rappers in the game right now, you will have a song for the ages. There is not a single this year that could even come close to topping this one. Denzel Curry absolutely annihilated this verse, leaving us with hilarious and hard-hitting bars stacked upon one another. Lines like, “Dreadlocks got your boy like Sideshow Bob,” and, “You're allowed to touch me, but I don't wanna keep in touch, though,” find a way to make you laugh while admiring the sheer intensity Denzel provides. This song is Peggy and Denzel’s first collaboration since the legendary song “Vengeance,” and the expectations were blown out of the water. I cannot think of a more disrespectful rating if I did not put this track at numero uno, so “Bald Remix” will hold the throne for the best JPEGMAFIA single of 2020.