Flume’s collaboration with JPEGMAFIA, “How to Build a Relationship,” from his new surprise mixtape, Hi This Is Flume, is the funnest thing on it. JPEGMAFIA raps like someone with an ax to grind but writes like everything is a joke. There is a freedom to his performing that turns each gripe or threat into a punchline; here he mixes wrestling raps with “Game of Thrones” references, building on quips as asides (“These arms extended, I’m not givin’ daps out”). He rides the beat with such defiance it makes every word out of his mouth striking, taking petty vloggers and uninspired rappers on million-dollar deals to task with the same enthusiasm. “Fuck is you talkin’ ‘bout? I’m into givin’ coffins out/I caught him at the coffee house and made him walk it out,” he sneers.
Flume’s textural production style has rarely served as a compliment for rappers, but JPEG, a noise rap specialist, has no trouble finding and filling the pockets in the Australian’s newly glitchy and more robust creations with his boisterous trash talk. What starts as a steady trot of 8-bit swag rap quickly warps into sometime out of step and nearly syncopated and sputtering. And the producer and rapper shift in line with one another despite still seemingly being askew somehow. Then, suddenly, they sync. As the second verse is building to its climax, each word is lockstep with a blip tone that sounds like an alien getting hit by a missile in the Atari game Space Invaders. The rapper short circuits. In typical JPEG fashion, before he can finish his thought, adrenaline takes over and he just blurts out “fuck!” abandoning any notion of a tidy finish. His subversive take seems to echo Flume’s desire to warp his sound out of shape.