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Released January 19, 2018 via Deathbomb Arc / Republic Records

Reviewed February 2, 2023

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Baby I’m Bleeding (65%), 1539 N. Calvert (59%), Rainbow Six (49%)

We are now five years removed from Veteran, and JPEGMAFIA has only continued down a path of unconventionality since. The Baltimore artist’s second LP—following the fantastic Black Ben Carson and a sizable number of mixtapes—proved to be a critical breakthrough, positioning Peggy as the new darling of underground and experimental hip-hop circles. Veteran feels very in touch with hip-hop trends of the era it was released, and thus familiar, while simultaneously unpredictable and incredibly distinct. Traces of cloud rap, and even trap, can be found in the production, but JPEGMAFIA splices sudden transitions, extensively chopped and layered production, and carefully selected samples to create some truly mind-bending soundscapes. Coming in hot with an unapologetic, confrontational, and somewhat-cocky attitude, JPEGMAFIA takes aim at virtually anyone and everyone; liberals and conservatives, misogynists, hipsters, bloggers and music critics, white people, and more, are all targets of Peggy’s ire at various points. This unrelenting assertiveness not only showcases the rapper/producer’s fearlessness, but his criticisms bring up a number of issues—within the music industry, society, and many individuals—that are worth further examination. In true trailblazing fashion, JPEGMAFIA’s Veteran took many of the same techniques, deliveries, and attitudes of those he directly criticized—flipped, improved upon, and capitalized on them. – Dominick (8.8/10)

JPEGMAFIA's breakthrough album, Veteran, turns five years old. JPEG’s slightly twisted approach to his craft makes him stand out from the crowd of his contemporaries; the quality of the music separates him even further. Taking the experimental hip-hop world by the reins, Veteran caught the attention of the hip-hop sphere in the most head-turning of ways. Obscure beats, bordering on insane, set the backdrop for what can be called a capricious performance from the main man himself. Peggy creates sonic scapes that bury themselves, worm-like, into the listener on its receiving end. Seductive, and sometimes nothing short of uncomfortable, Peggy opens his doors to anyone willing to step inside the insane asylum. – Peter (8.5/10)

Always a whirlwind of ideas, and at this time an agent of chaos, JPEGMAFIA experienced a critical breakthrough with his release of Veteran. As always, Peggy is the one-man show behind nearly every beat and bar for the length of the album. His vindictive and confrontational nature energizes the album’s best moments. Much of Veteran’s production is fuzzy, scintillating, and unsettling; anything becomes a sound made for melodies when this mad scientist gets behind the board. For instance, the “Whole Foods” beat shivers like a 3-cylinder engine, while “Real Nega” repurposes the shouts and screams of the Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Thankfully, this was just the start of an even more multi-dimensional and persistent JPEGMAFIA we would see on later records. Even so, Veteran is as impressive now as it was then, when it arrived as one of 2018’s most pleasant surprises. – DeVán (7.5/10)

Jared: 9/10 | Dominick: 8.8/10 | Cam: 8/10 | Pax: 8.5/10 | DeVán: 8/10

Community Reviews:

One of THE best projects of the last half decade easily. Just such a raw and fresh record. Has that similar lo-fi aesthetic we all love from Ghost Pop but is so explosive at the same time. It has its strictly chill moments with even darker beats, plus raw honest songwriting with a very wide range of beautiful and emotional vocals. And the production is out of this world. “Rainbow Six” is one of the best tracks in hip hop EVER – @buhrm33 (9.5/10)

This album sounds like a personal, aggravated assault against every single right-wing person, Kanye's hair—and at times, my eardrums. Almost perfect, if not for a few lesser songs. – @diffstuff303 (9.3/10)

Veteran is an absolute classic with some of the most aggressive, harsh, and energetic sounds Peggy has ever come out with. The sound of this album defined JPEGMAFIA and is a gold standard in industrial hip hop. – @NoodlesBotRemy (9/10)


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