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Scaring the H*es, Internet Culture, and the Commodification of Art

Dominic Robucci | Contributing Writer

Danny Brown gained popularity in the early 2010’s from his first 2 albums: ‘The Hybrid’ and ‘XXX’. Both records were critically acclaimed amount online music fans, but ‘XXX’ gained more acclaim from the mainstream hip-hop publications.

JPEGMAFIA had a similar rise in popularity, from low-key acclaim during the early to mid 2010’s, to his self-produced album ‘Veteran’ in 2018 receiving praise from Pitchfork, among others.

They both operate in the lane of outsider, avant-garde, experimental rap, leading to a collaboration on Brown’s 2019 album ‘uknowhatimsayin¿’, producing a track and having vocals on another.

All this leads to now, where Danny and Peggy combine powers for a whole album. (Alluded to by the Bandcamp cover of Trump and Kim Jong-un). ‘Scaring the H*es, vol, 1’ is the name of their collaborative hip-hop project, released on March 24, 2023. The album, like Danny and Peggy have done for years, completely embraces internet culture. The lead single Lean Beef Patty (the name paying homage to the TikTok fitness influencer). Peggy opens the record with the lyrics,

“First off f*ck Elon Musk

Eight Dollars too much, b*tch, that’s expensive (true)”

This immediately grounds the record in internet culture and tells us Peggy is not afraid of sharing his opinion. The phrase ‘scaring the h*es’ has existed in internet culture since July 2019. It was adopted into the world of internet music culture, normally referring to experimental music that does not conform to general expectations of popular music, and that it will be off-putting for women, especially if played at a social gathering. The phrase has roots in the misogynistic notion that women cannot enjoy experimental music, but overall is an innocent joke regarding inaccessibility in music.

JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown are commonly lumped into this category. As a retort to this label, they named their newly released collaborative album “Scaring the H*es, Vol. 1”. As they are artists that have never made music ‘for the radio’, their interpretation of the phrase comes from their lack of radio hits and mainstream acceptance. Their creative mission is to make music true to them.

The title track explains this, with Peggy speaking to himself from the perspective of his label,

“Play somethin' for the b*tches

How the f*ck we supposed to make monеy off this shit?

You wanna be an MC? What the f*ck you think, it's 1993?”

This is Peggy commenting on how labels commodify himself and his art. As an artist, you can’t solely focus on making music, but you must build yourself up as a brand, and market your art to people. This is matched with strict restrictions that labels put on artists, as maintaining profit is the main motive, not making great art. The label is asking Peggy to make more radio-friendly tracks, hoping to generate more income off his labor (while briefly touching on the misogyny in the music industry). Overall, Peggy rejects the structure of the music industry. This record is Peggy’s first under his own label; PEGGY, under AWAL (Artists Without a Label), which gives him full creative control and ownership of his music. He expresses this sentiment on the track Steppa Pig,

‘It’s like I’ve been workin’ for crumbs

Now I’m feeling free as my speech.

Colin Kaep’, I’m a free agent

Cap the salary, free up my teams’

Danny Brown has had problems with his label Warp Records as well, with them refusing to release a solo album he’s finished, and mentioning how he barely made the money back from his 2016 record ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, with having to clear many expensive samples.

Both artists combine to make an excellent hip hop record, with Peggy’s signature abrasive, sample heavy production. Danny is as great as he’s always been, feeling perfectly at home on Peggy’s beats. Varied production throughout; ‘Jack Harlow Combo Meal’ and ‘HOE (Heaven on Earth)’ having beautiful key arrangements, while songs like ‘Garbage Pail Kids’, ‘Kingdom Heart Sword’, and ‘Fentanyl Tester’ feature heavy samples. Rapper Redveil appears on ‘Kingdom Heart Sword’ as the only featured artist and gives a great performance.

Overall, Danny and Peggy sound comfortable working together, and now they have the creative freedom to do so, and not afraid make their opinions heard.


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