Listens for the Week #28: JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown, Converge, Skip the Kid
Updated: May 14
Every week, I offer three recommendations: something new, something classic, and something I love. This week, I’ve been diving into the brutal discography of metalcore band Converge, which is a jarring change of pace for me, but I’ve been loving every moment of it. On top of that, this past Friday was an amazing day for new releases – with new Hit-Boy, Lana Del Rey, and far more – so I’ve been busy catching up on some fresh highlights of 2023.
JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown – SCARING THE HOES (2023) [Hip Hop & Glitch Hop]
JPEGMAFIA is an artist I’ve come to love more with each new release. His unapologetically loud, glitchy brand of hip hop has made for some of my favourite rap albums in recent years. Danny Brown is a rapper I love even more – his vulgar lyricism, animated delivery and abstract production style never disappoint, so I was captivated from the moment I heard the two MCs were working on a collaboration. The result is a record I adore, and with each subsequent listen I only find more ways to praise it. Peggy’s production is as chaotic as usual, but the chaos of his sound feels controlled and precise, with sharp beat switches and satisfying build-ups of intricately layered sounds. I was afraid that Danny Brown wouldn’t shine on such bombastic production, and the lead single “Lean Beef Patty” confirmed my fears, with the Detroit MC drowning in a sea of synths and bass to the point his words are unintelligible. Luckily, that mixing issue was promptly fixed, and with the full album out now, I’m thankful to say the rest of the record doesn’t suffer the same problems. Danny and Peggy have amazing chemistry, with JPEG’s louder, more angered delivery contrasting well against the more steady and reserved performance from Brown. The album is full of witty one-liners from the duo and some comedically vulgar lyrics from Danny, with his religious wordplay about sex on “God Loves You” being one of my favourite moments on the album. As for other highlights, the crunching, industrial beat on “Garbage Pale Kids” is perhaps the catchiest on the album. “Fentanyl Tester” might be my favourite track on the record, with a dance-inspired beat where the more chaotic elements ebb and flow from the instrumental, leaving room for the MCs to thrive before interrupting them in a storm of distorted samples. Overall, I don’t think it’s the strongest work by either rapper, but it’s as brilliant a collaboration as I could have hoped for.
Converge – Jane Doe (2001) [Metalcore & Hardcore Punk]
It’s difficult to articulate the brilliance of an album like this. The record’s deafening sound certainly won’t be for everyone – with screaming vocals so loud they barely sound like words – but I’d implore any music fan to give this a try at some point in their life. Something that turns me away from louder music is often the lyrics which come off as overly edgy, derivative and bland. In terms of writing, Converge are the farthest thing from bland. The verses come off more like stanzas of a poem, describing these feelings of heartache and loss with Jacob Bannon’s intense vocals elevating the emotion of every song. The production fits in with the despairing lyrics, with crushing drums and maddened guitar passages which are brutal to the point words can’t describe their impact. Jane Doe is an album I enjoyed from the very first listen, but given time to digest its poetic lyrics and understand the level of detail in each instrumental – I’ve come to believe this is one of the best albums ever made.
Something I Love
Skip the Kid – Fuck Ur Beats 2 (2023) [Underground Hip Hop & Abstract Hip Hop]
Another new release this Friday was the brand new album from underground producer, Skip the Kid. Unlike many of his recent projects where he has teamed up with a rapper for a full project – such as Music Saved Me 2 with Knowitall and Great Tribulatia with Mourning Run – Fuck Ur Beats 2 is Skip’s personal playground, bringing on a handpicked army of guests. From Jules Clay’s devastating feelings of loss on “Then It Hit Me” to the unbridled energy from Xhef on “Max/Lonely”, the diverse list of features all deliver. But the main appeal of the record is, of course, the production. The uplifting electric guitar loop on “Dreamz R Real” with Estee Nack makes the track feel so powerful and grandiose. “Max/Lonely”, in its brief runtime, evolves so much, kicking off with a sombre piano melody which rises into a soulful crescendo with its triumphant horns. My main complaint would be the last stretch of tracks where the songs are especially brief – given room to breathe, some of the beats could have developed more and made for a more powerful climax to the record. As a whole, Fuck Ur Beats 2 is a level above the original, with a diverse cast of rappers who all bring out the best in Skip the Kid. For those new to his music, Skip’s elegant but occasionally gritty sound is on full display here.