Watch JPEGMAFIA reflect on world poverty, performing Ray Charles’ ‘Busted’

The potent rapper provokes thinking about the extremities of inequality around the world today, with a 1964 track that feels painfully timely

JPEGMAFIA’s sound is a product of the digital age. His incendiary lyrics – delivered over glitchy distortions – are laced with political and pop culture references that hold a mirror up to IRL and URL culture. JPEG takes no prisoners, savaging right-wing ideology and the painfully woke in turn, with a punk attitude and cutting humour: “We don't fuck with alt right/Y'all ain't never been a threat/If y'all come to Baltimore, we gon' stick 'em for their racks,” he rages on “Rock N’ Roll is Dead”.

For our latest instalment of Dazed Texts, ‘Peggy’ throws it back to simpler times. He recites “Busted“, a song popularised by Ray Charles’ 1963 recording, originally written by Harlan Howard. His performance is part of Dazed’s partnership with the #TOGETHERBAND, a campaign raising awareness for the United Nations' vital global goals, a total of 17 objectives – ranging from climate change to fighting inequality – that aim to make the world a better place by 2030. 

Previous Dazed Texts have featured Tove Stryke reciting Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, and Girl Ultra, who took on Joy Harjo’s “Remember” – both rousing odes to nature and Mother Earth.  

The goal for the month of July is No Poverty, which makes Howard’s song about a poor farmer struggling to feed his family and bemoaning his unpaid bills apt. While the narrator is light-hearted with lines like “I hate to beg like a dog without his bone, the situation he articulates would have resonated with many broke families at the time in rural America and veterans of the Great Depression. 

Having spent his teenage years living in Alabama and later Louisiana (one of the poorest states and home to the country’s first official climate refugees), JPEG witnessed this kind of destitution first-hand. The reality that “Busted“ describes – “broke, no bread, I mean like nothing“ – is one felt on a global scale, with 736 million people still living in extreme poverty. The UN are working towards the 2030 goal by increasing basic resources and supporting communities affected by conflict and climate-related disasters, but there is still a long way to go.

Watch Peggy’s powerful performance above.