XXXtentacion: edgy

XXXtentacion is a controversial human being. From multiple prison sentences, to troubling witness testimonies, to the sheer energy he puts into his shows and lifestyle, the man cannot be completely analyzed. He has been named “the most controversial freshman” by XXL hip-hop magazine, which described him as one of this year’s ten up-and-coming rap stars. That being said, his latest album, 17, aims to shed some light on his state of mind and show the darker side of his personality. Dealing with topics such as suicide and lost love, XXXtentacion sometimes sings and sometimes rants about his struggles. Coming in at a grand total of 22 minutes long, the album is abnormally short by modern standards; each one of the 11 songs skips by before you realize you finished it.

Each song, therefore, needs to relay a specific emotion, or specific message, or just be a good song. Some songs do meet these standards, others do not. Take, for example, “Jocelyn Flores,” a song made in memory of one of X’s friends who committed suicide while with him in Miami. The song is dripping with emotion—a sad piano accompanies lo-fi background vocals while X raps about the dangers of depression and how it took him by surprise. In contrast, “Dead Inside (Interlude)” misses all of its marks. Having a song with barely audible vocals over nothing but a piano playing a few simple chords doesn’t accomplish anything; the album’s sad vibe had already been well-established before this song, which does nothing but shove that down the listener’s throat.

The most “mainstream” song on this album, “Fuck Love” featuring Trippie Redd, is the only part of 17 I expect will make it to public radio, and even then, the name might hinder it. Its catchy drum beat combined with its relatable vocals and non-controversial message make it a hit, while its short length means it does not need cutting like some singles.

17 reminds me of emo rock, more specifically Bring Me the Horizon, but with rap or mumbling instead of the genre’s characteristic screaming. I enjoyed most of the album, but some songs felt redundant or out of place. I think this isn’t necessarily popular music, but rather niche music for fans of the genre. X is planning on releasing more albums in the near future, so I’m expecting them to take a different direction to compensate for the more intimate, personal route this album took. Give this album a listen, but expect to either love it or hate it—no in-between.