JPEGMAFIA at the Royale, 11/03

Experimental rapper and producer JPEGMAFIA has bestowed upon us one of the best rap albums of the year with LP!. The new record’s “offline” version is extremely consistent, yet provides a variety of wild electronic and more traditional sounds, which is something that Peggy has shown throughout his career. After being so impressed by the new album, I was extremely excited to see him perform live at the Royale, especially after having become a fan after the release of his 2018 breakthrough album, Veteran.

Opening for Peggy was a rapper by the name of ZelooperZ. A member of the Danny Brown-led group Bruiser Brigade, I knew he would be fun to see perform. ZelooperZ brought great energy to his set, interacting with the crowd and playing energetic songs back to back. It was exciting seeing an up-and-coming rapper despite only knowing a few of his songs beforehand.

Shortly after the ZelooperZ set, JPEGMAFIA got set up, but as he started performing, he noticed his autotune wasn’t on. After this small mistake, however, there would be no blemishes for the rest of his absolutely stellar set. Peggy opened with “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot,” a track where Peggy gets melodic on the chorus and a little more aggressive on the verses. Right after this came “HAZARD DUTY PAY,” one of the highlights of the night. A soulful and sample heavy track that only made an appearance on the “offline” release of LP!, Peggy made sure to bring an impassioned performance for this song. It was either during this song or the next one where Peggy splashed water all over me and my camera, which I normally would have been mad about, but it actually got me hyped up for the rest of the show. After some great performances of “BALD!” and “1539 N. Calvert,” Peggy got into more of LP! with “NEMO!” and “THOT’S PRAYER,” two highlights on the album due to their crazy instrumental and interpolation of Brittany Spears, respectively.

The absolute best part of the concert was when Peggy announced that he had a special guest. I had absolutely no idea who he could be bringing out, since Peggy doesn’t have any connections with Boston and there are no big artists from the area. When he said that Dom McLennon of BROCKHAMPTON was there, though, I was absolutely dumbfounded. I am a huge BROCKHAMPTON fan, so when I saw Dom come on stage, I knew they were going to perform “CHAIN ON” together. That was an extremely cool moment to experience live, since the only other occasion where Peggy performed the song with BROCKHAMPTON was a virtual concert at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La studio. 

After “CHAIN ON” came one of my favorite songs from LP!, “REBOUND.” The horns on the instrumental combined with Peggy’s intense vocals led to a great performance. Completely switching the vibe of the concert, he decided to play his fan-favorite cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” which he performed with a wig on. The autotune-heavy vocals were emotional and powerful, as he put his own intense spin on some sections of the song.

Later came another pair of LP! songs, “BMT!” and “DIRTY!,” the latter of which he performed in the middle of the crowd after asking them to open the pit up. After he got back on stage, a “Fuck Morrissey” chant started in the crowd, to which he responded with a performance of “I Cannot Fucking Wait Til Morrissey Dies,” a short but sweet diss track against the aforementioned singer. He continued playing songs from Veteran with “Thug Tears” and “Baby I’m Bleeding,” two songs that I was really looking forward to hearing live since they were some of the first JPEGMAFIA songs I had ever heard, and also because I know every word to “Baby I’m Bleeding.”

Close to the end, Peggy gave a wonderful performance of “Free the Frail,” one of his more melodic songs with some great verses, which transitioned to “Real N***”, an absolutely wild song, but what else could you expect from a song that samples Ol’ Dirty Bastard? Shortly after, he asked the crowd what song they wanted to hear as the closing song. After giving some options and seeing how the crowd responded, he performed “Rainbow Six” as the encore.

JPEGMAFIA is built for the stage and he certainly showed it in Boston. Back to back incredible performances, a killer setlist, and a special guest appearance all came together to make this one of the best concerts I have ever been to. I am elated that I finally got to see him live after years of listening to his music. I am also looking forward to his future endeavors, because by the looks of it, JPEGMAFIA is only getting better and better as time goes on. With no label holding him back now, there is no telling what he has up his sleeve.

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