? Review

Dante Troina
Staff Writer

My extent of listening knowledge about XXXtentacion is about three songs of screaming and yelling rap lyrics at me, a couple of songs that creep me out a little too much to listen to, and one really good lead single for this album. I figured now was the best time to jump in head first to give him a first listen and fresh slate with the release of “?”, his latest project that came out last Friday. I have absolutely no clue what to expect, and if nothing else, this should be wildly entertaining.

 

  • Introduction (Instructions)
    Wow, this is the first ‘X’ album I’m listening to, and it starts with a skit. Okay cool. I’m not the biggest fan of skits in music but I do really like what he’s saying here, asking listeners to be open-minded in listening to his music. I agree, and think it goes without saying that you should go into any project with a clean slate. Don’t know if it needed to be said on the album in particular, but I’m fine with the message.

 

  • ALONE, PART 3
    I haven’t heard alone part one or two, *UPDATE* listened to them… meh. The guitar on part three, however, is really nice. I love the simplistic approach and very bare vocals. Drums just kicked in, he added reverb to his voice as the guitar gets louder, I like it. Short but gets the job done.

 

  • Moonlight
    Ohh this beat, it sounds like it’s being made in the same factory as a Rubik’s cube. I’m surprised already at how well X is handling these tracks vocally, he’s sounding really smooth without much autotune, and taking a fresh approach to this. I love the hook, it’s a gem. He’s just mumbling his way through the verse, but all my ears are hearing is the beat, he could literally say anything over it and it would still be a good song for the instrumental alone.

 

  • SAD!
    I think everyone has heard this track five or six hundred times already. No explanation needed for why it’s so great, but to me, it’s really the message and simplicity of the whole thing. The hook is extremely catchy and something that anyone can relate to. More tracks like this and Moonlight, please.

 

  • the remedy for a broken heart (why am i so in love)

 

This one might as well be called Alone Part 4. Another bare guitar based track. X doesn’t sing for the first time on this album, he more just talks his way through this one. Right as I typed that he hit some of the best notes I’ve heard in a while, of course. Sheesh, this guy can sing if nothing else, he’s 4/4 in my book at this point.

  • Floor 555
    The title really disturbs me and I think we all know why I’ll only listen to this track once even if I love it cause I’m not messing around with devil worshipping stuff. Here we go, this is the XXXtentacion I’m familiar left. I love the telephone style vocal effect he has going too, reminds me of Kanye on Gorgeous (before you freak out I’m not comparing him to Kanye, I just like the vocal effect). Uh oh, the yelling just started and this track went downhill fast. ‘Stuff you in the closet,’ oh no, I’m not into that kind of stuff. I do, however, think this song is still not bad and will serve its purpose greatly at mosh pits in concert. His fans will eat this one up.

 

  • NUMB
    Another guitar, I love it. Holy this sounds like a slow Green Day track, this is awesome. Oh yeah, the beat just dropped into the chorus, this one was made for me. The reverb is placed perfectly on his vocals too, keeping it bare but also having flavor to it. Minute long guitar solo for the outro? Love it. This is an early winner.

 

  • infinity (888) (feat. Joey Bada$$)
    He got the guy who made my favorite album from last year on this? Awesome. I have no clue how their styles are gonna match but this track sounds like a 90’s boom-bap already. Aww, Joey just said he’s gonna catch all the diseases in the world so no one else has to. He’s already won my heart in fifteen seconds. I swear every time I say I love a track in a review, the next one just blows it out of the water. Joey has so many bars on this that I don’t have room to say all the quotables. X is holding up well too, I never thought I’d say he could handle a track with Joey, but he’s bringing tons of energy to this right now. This is a ‘sit back and plot world domination’ type of beat. I love the fade out as Joey and X harmonize with one another.

 

 

  • going down!
    This is scary already. Piano keys and horns in the distance. 808 Mafia tag what?!? X brought everyone in for this album, I’m hyped for the drop. Yup, this beat is disgusting. It’s nasty. X is just kinda mumbling but honestly, he’s not my main focus, this production has got to be TM88 (I checked, it’s him and TrePounds). If you need one producer that still isn’t a huge name to give your favorite mumble rapper a hit, check out TM88 (XO Tour Llif3, Codeine Crazy, Goosebumps), the man has been carrying Atlanta trappers for years. X is pretty entertaining on this one too, ‘Like I’m Lil Yachty, I one night her *uh*,’ I laughed incredibly too hard at some of the lines on here. Album is seven for eight at this point.

 

  • Pain = BESTFRIEND (feat. Travis Barker)
    I got excited when I saw ‘Travis’ wanting it to be Scott but Travis Barker isn’t half bad of a feature either. Another bare guitar instrumental. I’ve loved the guitar tracks so far but this is looking like the blandest one. I can’t really understand what he’s saying, it just kinda seems like syllables thrown together in a singing voice. Oh god, that was the most unexpected thing ever, I know you heard it too. He’s not even yelling, he’s just screaming. This track is a no for me. I’ve always wondered what the other people in the studio are thinking when he just rages and spits all over the mic.

 

  • $$$ (feat. Matt OX)
    Isn’t Matt OX the weird white kid who uses autotune? Who knows, there’s millions around now. Beat sounds pretty wavy. ‘Get money yeah yeah,’ can’t disagree with that. I know I shouldn’t say this but this track is pretty catchy, and I kinda hate myself for liking it. Me and my friends could cook this whole track up in about five minutes, that’s how simple it is, but it’s sonically pleasing. XXXtentacion just got out performed by Matt OX on a track. Two people I’d never think to listen to just made something shockingly solid. 2018 is weird.

 

  • love yourself (interlude)
    How are you gonna call this track an interlude when it’s just as long as every other track on here? Half these tracks are basically interludes. Whatever. More guitar and sad lyrics, I like the mood switch, not much else to say except I actually wish this was longer.

 

  • SMASH! (feat. PnB Rock)
    PnB Rock… You have so much potential and a half-decent voice but instead, you just choose to be a generic, boring hook man. Life’s full of choices I guess; you can be a horribly discount Travis Scott and Tory Lanez if you want. This track is boring, which is saying something because half of the tracks have just been a guitar with some singing but have still managed to keep me more entertained than whatever this is.

 

  • I don’t even speak Spanish lol
    Lol, me neither. Is he really about to do this? My lord he actually is. This is a straight spanish track. X is from Miami so I guess the spanish attempt makes sense. I just googled to find out it’s a couple of other guys doing the spanish singing but they aren’t listed as features. Still, this is great, it flows perfectly. I love the way English and Spanish are mixed into the track. This doesn’t belong on this album at all but I’m totally okay with it. This is the song I’ll be playing all summer. Winner.

 

  • changes
    I chose not to listen to this single when it came out so I could hear it here, all I’ve heard are mixed reactions too so I’m not knowing what to expect. I know I’ve said it on almost every singing track in this review, but vocally this one is especially impressive. This song shouldn’t be played within a year of a breakup, it’s tear-inducing. Reminds me of a clearer and not eight minute long version of Lost Boy by Jaden Smith. I’m impressed.

 

  • Hope
    This is the song that convinced me to listen to X before SAD! came out. Without delving too deep into it, when I heard that he made a song for the kids that lost their lives in Parkland, Florida, I had to listen. I absolutely love this track, it’s simple, short, and just beautiful. A little mumbly for my liking, but he does a good job at doing what the beat needs him to do, and the central message of the song is great without being confrontational. Twelve for fifteen.

 

  • schizophrenia
    I can tell I’m not gonna like this one from the start. ‘Voices in my head,’ sorry but I can’t relate. Brief yelling, then a weird guitar riff starts with him saying everything in a punk rockish way, this would work well as movie trailer background music, it kind of reminds me of crappy action movie commercial music. Nevermind, this reminds me of nothing, he’s just screaming. ‘DON’T GIVE UP, DON’T GIVE UP,’ no pun intended but this is actually enough yelling to make me give up on this album. There were redeeming qualities about the other loud tracks but this one is just awful. Quite disturbing too, I’m never listening to this one before I go to sleep.

 

  • before I close my eyes
    Oh wow, he went from screamo from acoustic guitar, it’s a weird change but definitely a welcome one. This song is again, beautiful, and so calm coming after schizophrenia, I really enjoy it as an outro because it represents what I’ve liked from this album. Good closer.

This was shockingly an above average project that I can see myself going back to multiple songs such as Hope and infinity multiple times throughout this year. One thing I can say is that I was extremely entertained by the whole project, even by songs I thought were God awful (schizophrenia, I’m never listening to you again). X may not have a fan in me quite yet, but I can say that I enjoyed this project and will definitely listen to projects by him from here on out.
RATING: 78/100

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