Rapper JPEGmafia calls LA home, but Baltimore shapes his album Veteran | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Rapper JPEGmafia calls LA home, but Baltimore shapes his album Veteran 

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click to enlarge JPEGmafia


Harrison Corwin

A few days after a fire killed 36 people at an Oakland warehouse space called the Ghost Ship in December 2016, Baltimore city officials quickly shut down and condemned the Bell Foundry, a two-story multidisciplinary arts space filled with recording studios and living areas; dozens of tenants were evicted with expedience. While these spaces were thrust into the spotlight as hazards run by the willfully ignorant, they’ve long had a history of importance in underground communities—they offer spaces to the kind of voices who are often barred from traditional venues. They also remain part of Baltimore’s lifeblood, so the loss of the Bell Foundry continues to send tremors throughout the city’s creative community and its brightest participants. Those feelings remain right on the surface of Veteran (Deathbomb Arc), the January album by rapper Barrington Hendricks, better known as JPEGmafia (he styles his name in all caps, and also goes by Peggy). Veteran opens with “1539 N. Calvert,” which is the Bell Foundry’s address, and also one of the best opening tracks I’ve heard all year, a brawny, succinct shot of bristling noise-rap. An air-force vet who decamped for Charm City after serving in Iraq, Hendricks moved to Los Angeles about a year ago, but Veteran is Baltimore to its core—a grimy collage of unconventional shards of samples that comes together to form something both gnarly and beautiful.   v

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