AOTY 2023: “I used one machine and charted. These people have 18 people tweaking hi-hats and can’t feed their kids” – JPEGMAFIA

Scaring The Hoes features highly on our 2023 Albums of the Year list, so we spoke to JPEGMAFIA about his first collaborative album (with Danny Brown), and what sounds like it might be his last... maybe

JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown collaborating on an album – and one called Scaring The Hoes – surprised everyone and no one when it arrived practically unannounced in March. Two of alternative rap’s biggest stars, they’ve always appeared to have more in common than not, both dominating their own blue collar DIY scenes in Detroit (Brown) and Baltimore (Peggy) through circle pits that feed off of their irreverence, anti-establishment bluntness, and blistering, wayward beats.

Scaring The Hoes sounds exactly as you’d imagine an album from these two artists would: blown out, furious, and completely bonkers. It’s also the most inventive rap album of the year, where samples ricochet all over the place, from message tones to gospels choirs, to handclaps, to saxophone bum notes, to chunks of P Diddy, LL Cool J and Kelis (make what you want of the fact that JPEGMAFIA chose not to answer our question: “How easy was it to clear the sample of ‘Milkshake’ on the track ‘Fentanyl Tester’?”).

Its real skill is knowing when the overload is just about to become too much, and when a horn hook is needed (‘Burfict!’), or a Kanye-like thick slice of sustained melody (‘Orange Juice Jones’). Nobody does that quite like JPEGMAFIA, who not only co-rapped each track but produced the whole of Scaring The Hoes himself using one single piece of kit, the Roland SP-404 sampler, which looks like a Year 7 scientific calculator. It was Peggy who was the driving force of the album, who suggested to Stereogum earlier this year that this could be the start of a series of collaboration albums through which he’d aim to unite underground, experimental rappers. “You look at all the mainstream dudes and they all make songs together,” he said. “Every album’s got a Lil Baby feature, Lil Durk feature, Future feature. All these n****s work together, they get money together and they come up together and they give each other strength. It’s like a spirit bomb.” Today it seems like he’s not in that place anymore. At least not from the answers he gave us about Scaring The Hoes, exchanged over email. Although they are seemingly Peggy in typical troll mode.


Can you pinpoint the moment you and Danny agreed to make this album together? How did that conversation go? 

I talked to Danny in the green room of my show in 2021? I asked him if he wanted to make a collab album then.

When it came to it, was there a particular type of album you wanted to make together?

There was no particular album. I just wanted to make something that wasn’t boring and sterile like the rest of the shit you all listen to.

You produced it all using only a Roland 404. What made you want to take up that creative challenge? 

Because I’m better than most people in the industry, talent-wise. So I did it to prove it. I used one machine and charted. These people have 18 people tweaking hi-hats and can’t feed their kids. Anybody mad is mad because it’s true.

How was the tour you guys just completed? 

It was trash.

Is it right that the album started off as a tribute to Henning Schellerup’s film Sweet Jesus, Preacherman, before it morphed into something else? 

Yeah, it initially started as a tribute to blaxploitation films. It evolved but the energy is still there.

Am I right in thinking this is only the start of you making collab albums with other underground artists, not just with DB? 

I’m not making a collab album with anybody again. People dickride me and then mock me. So they can keep their basic shit to themselves. I collab with me.

Who else have you got your eye on to work with?