Chaotic, frenetic, insane … manic even. There need not be an end to superlatives that best describe the show that Baltimore rapper Jpegmafia delivered on the Roskilde Festival’s Apollo Stage yesterday.
Looking and sounding at times like an afrofuturistic Marvel hero that could easily have been part of the cast of the critically acclaimed film ‘Black Panther’, Jpegmafia was excellent all evening. In fact, come to think of it, he does resemble a certain Chadwick Boseman, one of the stars of the aforementioned flick and his crisply-produced beats would certainly be at home in its Wakandan universe, but that’s a hypothesis for another day.
Bare-chested in the chilly afternoon wind, Peggy, as he is affectionately known by his fans, took to the stage with a point to prove from the get-go. A staccato sequence of openers, during which he flung himself into the crowd repeatedly, set the tone for what would be a show that left this reviewer wondering what the heck he’d just seen at the end of it.
But it was not all frenzied fanfare – Jpegmafia has a knack for kicking back and letting it all sink in momentarily between his wordy renditions. While his pauses, emphasised by a chilling glare towards the featival-goers, seemed awkward at first, they grew on the partisan crowd over time, as chants of “Peggy, Peggy, Peggy!” rang out.
‘How to build a relationship’ was one of the softer tracks to grace the stage after the blur of openers, though even this tune got a beefing up in its live version – sounding raunchier and more pronounced than its studio form.
Too chaotic at times?
The show then dipped somewhat as Jpegmafia spat out one seething stanza after another – the issue here being that there were seldom a minute or two to catch one’s breath amongst the cavalcade of vitriol flung from the stage. This said, the front-row of the crowd loved every minute of it and gave Peggy a hero’s welcome every time he sprang upon them. Stoked, his confidence grew and with it came deeper, more contemplative moments within the furore – a welcome touch of quality to a show that sometimes felt like a closed metal container with a hissing cobra and a screaming man running around in it.
Nowhere were the aforementioned contemplative moments more pronounced than close to the end of the show, in which the Baltimore man managed to get the entire show to sit down ahead of the performance of his ‘Rainbow Six’. This had a even more of a soothing effect given it was shortly after one of the tracks he has, by his own admission, “retired in the US”: the expletive-riddled ‘Fuck Morrissey’.
Mellow sounds not dissimilar to those of the psychedelic Australian band Tame Impala brought things to a close as the crowd dissipated and made their way to the Orange Stage for a show by a different type of folk hero, Bob Dylan.
His stock will rise
Jpegmafia came and left with a bang and left many wondering quite what they’d just borne witness to. Genius or maniac, you decide but there can be no flaunting the effort and energy he put into this show, which on this basis alone makes him someone worth keeping tabs on over the next few years.