This is going to be a doozy. So, if you make it all the way through, thanks. Truly.

In music, there are just things that you expect to happen eventually. We all knew that Pharrell and Lupe would link up, that Curren$y and Wiz would make absolute magic together, and that Kid Cudi and Travis Scott would eventually find their ways to each other. There are just things we all know will happen eventually, it’s just a matter of when. When I first heard JPEGMAFIA aka Peggy’s album “Veteran,” I was immediately reminded of the sounds Danny Brown played with and explored on his 2016 album, “Atrocity Exhibition.” Songs like “Panic Emoji” and “I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies” from “Veteran” mirror the same energies in Danny Brown’s “From The Ground” and “When It Rains,” respectively. So, when it was announced that these two were making an album together, everyone thought “Finally.” at the same time. But, I was particularly excited. Two of my favorite off-kilter artists were finally going to link up and it was an entire album? Wow, I immediately structured my life to make sure I didn’t die before I heard whatever this was going to be, and I’m so glad I did.

The two premiered the track “Lean Beef Patty” on Danny’s podcast “The Danny Brown Show” and the entire internet was in, they also officially announced that the title would be “SCARING THE HOES, VOL. 1” and that’s a very fitting title. Both artists have catalogs where you can’t just put them on shuffle around people without curating the queue unless the group wants to distort beats that change tempo and keys at a moment’s notice. Right off the bat with “Lean Beef Patty,” we’re greeted with a sample of “I Need A Girl” by Diddy sped up to chipmunk speed, Peggy starts the song off, rapping calmly before saying “THIS AIN’T WHAT YOU WANT.” In true Peggy fashion, the beat doesn’t drop when he says “WANT.” It comes after a clap…a clap before the kick. That small moment is a great introduction to the entire album, a complete circumvent of expectations for the average listener. Accompanied by these skittering synths, that lowkey sound like a sped-up song from Spongebob, this beat is led by these powerful, driving 808s. Peggy and Danny sound amazing over this production, all handled by Peggy himself. Peggy sounds like the young guy trying to prove himself to his elder, but also establish dominance over the track, then Danny comes in and reminds everyone who started this whole thang. It’s almost like the beat bows down to announce his presence. Danny then proceeds to moonwalk all over the beat until it’s finished. So that’s how the album starts? Bet, we’re in for something special.

They debuted this song on the show as I said, but when you watch the video you notice two things, 1. They’re playing the song off of Peggy’s phone, and 2. Danny’s vocals are mixed really really terribly. I have to get this out now, but Danny’s vocals are mixed awfully on this album and it’s like that on every single song, too. It’s one of the only complaints I have about it, this album is mixed like a La Croix tastes. You know how a La Croix is supposed to taste like a fruit-flavored sparkling water drink, but you mostly get all the sparkling, but no fruit. It’s as if someone waved a fruit over the can, but didn’t add it to the mix. Peggy is the sparkling, and Danny is the fruit. So I had to play the song over and over at louder volumes to even barely make out what Danny is saying. It made me so frustrated that I had to stop listening to it to not get angry, but then we all figured out that the actual mixed version was over on Bandcamp. I played it on there, and magically I could hear everything he was saying. So it begs the question, “Why?” Why create two mixed versions and put the good version on a DSP that puts out music for free? Maybe it’s just because I don’t make music so I’m not seeing the bigger picture or the artistry behind it, but as a listener, it’s such an easily avoidable issue. It gets to points where it sounds like Danny is yelling to be barely heard. Especially on “Where Ya Get Ya Coke From?” Towards the end when the beat is diving into the madness that is that beat, Danny is barely recognizable. Even on the Bandcamp version, you can barely hear him. A huge misstep on what could’ve been a perfect 10 outta 10 album. But, whatever.

Thankfully I found that version because these two are on a whole ‘nother level on every track. “Steppa Pig” is a great example of when the raps and the beat are on the same level of unfuckwittable-ness (Yeah, I just made that up. I own this magazine.) Danny starts the song off and throughout his verse, he re-establishes himself as an OG who brought himself to this point by himself, he’s on his own level in rap, and through the ups and downs he’s still here to address his lowly subjects. Danny truly raps to the beat, he uses different flows and tempos to match different elements. At the beginning he chops up his words to match the distorted claps, then he drags out words to match the beat cutting out then towards the end he chops again to match the kick drum, it’s so insane. Then, he throws the ball to Peggy who comes right in with, “Uh, back in this bitch with the dope, she backin’ it up for a gram, Baby, I cannot do nothing with hope, I’ma try molly and xans” In the middle of his verse the beat enters a bridge where it grabs you by the collar and pulls you into this odd and scarily-hypnotic that these two exist in and you can help but bob your head.

Garbage Pale Kids” is something out of my dreams. When I first heard “Atrocity Exhibition,” my favorite track was “Golddust.” I love hearing Danny over beats that just sound like chaos, explosions, and anarchy. He sounds so at home over that sound and now I can add this track to that list. This track starts off with two samples from two different Japanese commercials (of course) then, Danny starts his verse and he sounds like he’s just toying with us before he kills us. Like, it sounds like he was smiling while rapping especially when he says, “Ask Siri if I’m that nigga, She’ll probably answer back
‘Don’t ask me stupid shit, my nigga.’
” (!!!) Then, right after he finishes his verse the beat picks up a shotgun, points it at your chest, and shoots you point blank. These guitars come in and they’re distorted to high hell, but they sound so good. Peggy closes out the track with a message to all the pretenders and doubters. He’s more real than you, he will shoot you, too. Also, when you got jumped, why didn’t you kill those guys? Peggy is visceral on this one it’s like bro, you know you’re famous now right? You can’t just be shooting people.

Burfict!” sounds like the two addressing their army before heading into battle. Like the scene from Braveheart, but a million times better. The two rap over these monumentous-sounding horns then those horns get layered with higher-pitched horns and these trunk-rattling 808s. Now, that part is awesome, but my god when Peggy comes in? It’s like they said “Charge!!!” And went into battle and now Peggy is rapping and fighting people at the same time. There’s a build-up with a string section, then the horns come back in and Peggy is screaming over them, the beat cuts out then we continue the same beat from Danny’s verse. Those 14 seconds are the highlight of the track to me. Peggy is hungry on this track like he was seriously trying to impress Danny with his rapping. The whole section from when he says, “Gimme that Nancy, gimme that Ruth, Gimme that Barbara, take out the tooth” to the end of his verse I couldn’t stop thrashing when I first heard it, it’s that good.

Danny sounds like a king atop his unorthodox throne on “Shut Yo Bitch Ass Up.” The beat is glitchy and goopy, complete with these beefy synths, a heavy kick drum, a consistent, but not annoying vocal chop, and Nextel chirps. Danny raps about how he became a better rapper after he stopped abusing pills and because of it he’s reached a new level in his raps. Now he can look around and see that: once he wasn’t welcomed, but those same reasons (being fully himself) is now the norm, but his sons kinda suck. They don’t say anything in their raps and Danny compares them to satire while he’s slanging propane. The second half of this song is cool, but it pales in comparison to the first part. Peggy takes the groove from the first part and reworks it into a completely different beat. It’s not horrible, but the scale was tipped when Danny started his verse with “I don’t rap circles around niggas, I do figure eights.” You kinda can’t beat that.

Now, my favorite run of songs starts now. From “Orange Juice Jones” to “God Loves You” is premiere rapping by these two. Over a sample of Michael-fuckin’-Jackson (!!!), Peggy and Danny rap about getting top, taking mushrooms, and shooting at people with guns the size of average-sized rappers. Take a wild guess who rapped about what. This is another beat where you close your eyes and your nose touches your forehead. What’s funny is: Peggy didn’t really alter the sample that much. He chopped and looped about six seconds of the song and lowered the pitch and then left it alone. He made all these beats on an SP-404 and said, “This is what we would sound like in the 90s with no pro tools.” That statement is super apparent on this track. It’s weird by 90s standards, but it sounds like something an unorthodox producer from back then would do with access to this machine. That is completely contrasted with how busy “Kingdom Hearts Key” sounds. Right off the bat, it starts with a sample of the theme from a 90s anime. Immediately guitars, choirs, and strings fill your ears, then Peggy comes in and brings the percussion with him. What’s interesting about his first verse is that he ends it first after only eight bars, and the hook starts the same every time so it sounds like he’s constantly interrupting himself. I thought he was distorting his vocals, but no, just the magic of editing. The beat change during Peggy’s second verse is amazing. He raps over a different section of the sample and the drums change, too. Danny is introduced by this drum fill then he comes in and picks up where Peggy left off. All that is cool, but the true highlight of this song is redveil’s feature. Now, I had no idea who he was before this track, but what an introduction! I looked it up and he’s 18 years old, dude. Imagine getting this opportunity at this age and not wasting it!? His energy is refreshing, he sounds like he’s having fun and he’s right at home over Peggy’s production. He starts his verse off by manipulating the harmony of the sample and bending it to say what he wants and does a great mix of spitting and shouting during his verse. Stellar performance. By far my favorite song on the whole album is “God Loves You.” Like, it’s not even close. The song starts with two claps that introduce a killer sample intro that’s led by this insane down-driving bassline, then the 808s come in and your heart is ripped out of your chest. Trust me, play this song in your car with the windows down, volume all the way up, and the bass turned to the max level and you’ll see Jesus, I promise that. This is definitely the best beat on the entire album, this is what you’d think a Peggy and Danny collab would sound like. Danny is rapping on this hoe, too. Over a song that samples gospel, Danny raps about religion, but as it relates to how good at smashing he is. Almost every bar in his verse features a biblical reference. Including, but not limited to, “Gimme that head like you’re breakin’ brеad, I’m about to fuck you like the Twelvе Disciples, All my fault, I’ma nail you to the cross, Lash on your back, but I know ya like that.” How does a human brain even come up with that?? This is purely Danny’s song, and I think Peggy knew that. His verse isn’t really a verse, but more of a pre-hook refrain with a Ski Mask The Slump God sample at the end. I think he knew Big Bro killed it already.

This album is really, really good. It’s exactly what you would want from these two. The energy isn’t high the whole time, but it’s a perfect blend of high and mellow to show that these two aren’t one-trick ponies. I really hope we get a couple more volumes of these so we can see what direction they want to go in. I really hope that, if they do make another one, we don’t have another mixing fiasco like this one did. Seriously, this album would’ve been a 10 to me without that aspect of it. Regardless, I’m so glad they decided to do this. They’re going on tour and the first date is in my hometown so let’s see if my ears fall off after.

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