New York City, NY — by Holden Lay
This story was originally published on New York University’s Washington Square News.
With five tracks and a runtime of just under 12 minutes, JPEGMAFIA’s new EP “OFFLINE!” is a condensed and ruthlessly confident victory lap. Following last year’s fantastic in-your-face “LP!” — which brought the experimental rapper-producer out of a slow period — this brief EP carries on JPEGMAFIA’s ethos of proving he can do any sound better than anyone else around.
The opener, “HAZARD DUTY PAY!,” is a fresh sonic palette for his work. Jazzy soul samples blast over a tight mix of live and studio drums, adding an unexpectedly melodic touch to his fiery vocal performance. Not many JPEGMAFIA songs have a hook, let alone one this, laid-back and poppish. Although the next track, “DIKEMBE!,” is more typical of the rapper, it showcases his flow at its best. His ability to build intense energy within an intimate track remains unparalleled.
“GOD DON’T LIKE UGLY!” is a non-stop barrage that makes a compelling case for JPEGMAFIA as having some of the best writing in rap today. His eclectically intellectual lyrics cover Sarah Palin, Frank Zappa and 1970s soul star Harold Melvin — all in a barrage clocking in at under 1 minute, 15 seconds. He steers clear of the corniness that so often comes from spewing pop-culture knowledge on a track; rather, his references feel personal and delightfully, unabashedly nerdy. This track leaves me craving more of this soul-sample-based side of JPEGMAFIA’s sound.
Read the rest of the story at Washington Square News.