Danny Brown and JPEGMafia: Whose Music Really "Scares the Hoes"? | Miami New Times


Danny Brown vs. JPEGMafia: Who Is More Likely to "Scare the Hoes"?

Some artists, like Danny Brown and JPEGMafia, have embraced the idea of hoe-scaring music.
JPEGMafia stops at Revolution Live with Danny Brown on Saturday, August 19.
JPEGMafia stops at Revolution Live with Danny Brown on Saturday, August 19. Photo by Karli Evans
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You're at a party. The tunes are positively bussin' and extremely inoffensive, with plenty of good vibes from the Weeknd, Ice Spice, and whatever else is on the RapCaviar Spotify playlist. Then someone decides to play a goddamn motherfucking MF Doom track.

You approach this social maladroit, then say the necessary words: "Turn that shit off, bro, you're scaring the hoes."

What does it mean to "scare the hoes"? Who are the "hoes," anyway? Basically, it means that you don't wanna be the one at the party playing music that makes the hot girls say, "Ew," or "What the fuck is this?" or "Just play Drake or something!" You don't wanna be that guy. Do you want people to think you're an incel or something?

Of course, some artists embraced the idea of hoe-scaring music, such as Danny Brown and JPEGMafia, two of popular rap's most out-there artists, who attempted to capture the essence of the phrase on their recent collaborative album, naturally titled Scaring the Hoes.

As the duo brings their bizarre alt-rap stylings to Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, August 19, New Times has decided to put on a little contest. Between Detroit's Danny Brown, famed for his bizarre, falsetto delivery and sordid tales from his Detroit drug-dealer past, and Baltimore's JPEGMafia, an ex-military, politically obsessed emcee with an internet-addled production style, which rapper is more likely to "scare the hoes"? Let's find out.

Round 1: Danny Brown - "30" vs. JPEGMafia and Freaky - "I Might Vote For Donald Trump"

As the conclusion of the gripping downward spiral Danny faces throughout XXX, his 2010 breakout mixtape, "30" expounds upon the exhaustion and trauma of living in poverty and without success even as midlife beckons. Outside of that context, the track sounds a bit like your most chaotic friend, the one who's had the toughest time in life, relating their entire life story to you at a party. It sounds like a sincerely heartbreaking version of Tracey Jordan remembering his comically dismal life growing up in the slums of New York. "The last ten years, I been so fucking stressed/Tears in my eyes, let me get this off my chest," he pleads. There's enough pathos in all of that that prevents it from truly scaring the hoes. The hoes are empathetic. The tales spun by Danny might even activate the hoes' "I can fix him" sense.

"I Might Vote For Donald Trump," by Peggy and collaborator Freaky off their collaborative EP, The 2nd Amendment, on the other hand, is not a song about empathy. Written and released before the 2016 election, it is a song of pure nihilism. About being so divorced from reality and the stakes inherent in politics that you'll vote for Trump just for the thrill. Coming from an African-American (Peggy) and a Mexican-American (Freaky), the song is an indictment of all those who "blindly fall into a group of friends full of bigots" and embrace the power fantasy of fascist politics, combining the bravado of hip-hop with the brutality of the Republican agenda. However, if you are at a party and you go up to the hoes saying, "I might vote for Donald Trump," they will not like this. You will receive zero empathy. There may even be some cartoonishly violent reprisal in the form of a handbag battery or a slap to the face. Linus Van Pelt's advice rings more true than ever in this situation: Never talk about politics, religion, or the Great Pumpkin — or the Great Cheeto, for that matter.

Winner: JPEGMafia

Round 2: Danny Brown - "Torture" vs. JPEGMafia - "Curb Stomp"

"Torture," one of the darkest tracks off of Danny's confessional album Old, sees the rapper once again recount tales of hood horror, albeit even more matter-of-factly: "Seen a dope fiend beat another with a hammer/Probably need a shrink, can't get a wink/So I smoke a lot of kush and pop a Xanax to sleep." The beat is sluggish and dramatic, full of filtered synth stings and moaning choral vocal samples, certainly not party material. Meanwhile, "Curb Stomp," the closing track off Peggy's breakthrough album Veteran, sees the rapper screaming indiscriminately over a minimal, shuffling beat with a bizarre, lo-fi production aesthetic. Once again, it comes down to energy. Both songs would probably clear the floor at a house party, but Peggy's incel political raps and experimental beats are much more of a hard sell than Danny's dark yet mostly traditional stylings.

Winner: JPEGMafia

Round 3: Danny Brown - "Ain't It Funny" vs. JPEGMAFIA - "Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot"

This is a tough one. During the rollout for his Veteran followup, All My Heroes Are Cornballs, Peggy famously showed off the "Jesus Forgive Me" beat to a slew of famous friends, all of whom wound up "disappointed" by the bizarre track: James Blake, Kenny Beats, Denzel Curry, and even Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Certainly, the track has an odd beginning, sampling crowd noise and flickering flames. But its gospel-informed bars and soulful, yet tongue-in-cheek chorus — "Show me where the prophets go/Show me how to keep my pussy closed" — is endearing and beautiful, less likely to turn off the hoes than it is to make them say "Amen."

"Ain't It Funny," meanwhile, sounds like a dark carnival ride. The centerpiece of Atrocity Exhibition, Danny's debut for Warp Records and his most experimental, unhinged album, sees the Detroit rapper in manic mode, gleefully soundtracking his own downward spiral over a skonking, stomping Paul White beat that feels relentless. It's kind of a banger. But it's a track that's less appropriate for the hoes than it is for the Juggalos.

Winner: Danny Brown

Round 4: Danny Brown - "Dirty Laundry" vs. JPEGMafia - "Covered in Money!"

Danny and Peggy's most recent records have been their least hoe-scaring yet, but at least one seems to have the edge on the other. On "Dirty Laundry," Danny plays his drug-addled adventures for laughs, turning past escapades into a cartoonish good time over production from none other than Q-Tip of a Tribe Called Quest. This isn't Danny uncomfortably relating his traumas to an unreceptive audience; this is a ribald yet pleasant yarn spun at a kickback (or maybe a "ghetty?"). The same can't be said of Peggy. "Covered in Money!" starts with a shambolic, glitchy intro and continues with bars comparing himself to Cannibal Ox (vintage hoe-scaring music) and Slowthai (that didn't age well). The choice is clear: Peggy wins by a knockout.

Winner: JPEGMafia

After four rounds, JPEGMafia wins 3-1. His music is most likely to scare the hoes. Congratulations?

JPEGMafia and Danny Brown. 7 p.m. Saturday, August 19, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; jointherevolution.net. Sold out.
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