ironically, XXXTENTACION’s album has several question marks associated with it: will X rap on it? will he further elaborate on his road through depression? will he address his rap critics? these are only a few of the questions that need an answer from me, and since it’s X we’re talking about here, i do expect some bizarre ass answers.
this album features joey bada$$, pnb rock, and travis barker. this review features a few capitalized letters and lots of “…’s”
honorable mention: hope though 93% of the time he trolls, there is still that 7% of the time XXXTENTACION actually drops something meaningful. in “hope,” the Florida native dedicates a track to the victims of the parkland tragedy, creating this emotional banger that has him singing passionately from start to finish. i f–k with the vibes of the song hard, in spite of the high-level of slurring he’s doing on his verses.
who would’ve thought XXX’s mind would take him here…
“infinity” is simply a back and forth between two rebellious mc’s. the track has this old school feel to it, and for a few seconds, might confuse you into thinking you are listening to a jay-z album…
while i love joey, and think he murdered his verse with some tough ass bars, i think XXX beat him on this song. i know, based off the instrumental, one that is actually catered for joey to kill, you would think XXX would fit out, right? nope, he fits in perfectly, actually making the instrumental come alive with some pretty exuberant bars.
i actually think XXX is a pretty decent rapper when he actually tries…
we can act like thugs all we want, but if you ignore the fact that “numb” displays this vulnerability that is fascinating to listen to, you are trippin! despite the fact that the song is pretty simple content-wise (he uses the same lines over and over again throughout), you get this blast of emotion that permeates through the speakers, and it is being derived from his vocals and explosive guitar-play. i personally love when music makes you feel something, and this track definitely accomplishes that.
3. the remedy of a broken heart
“the remedy of a broken heart” is like bone thugs meets f–kin sam smith.
XXX used the sound you hear on this song quite a bit on his previous album, and based off of the reception from his fans, they liked it a lot. so why do the listeners like this sound for him? i think it really taps into his whole depressive side (people like hearing musicians sound depressed for some reason), but at the same time, it also has him simplifying his sound just a tad bit.
i didn’t expect a club banger on this album… (who knew sickos like him go to the club?)
“Moonlight” has everything: A hyped up beat, a fast rapping XXX, and some competitive fire. overall, i like how the song flows, as X makes mumble rap sound useful for once.
on “sad,” our hero shows off his ability to put together a pretty colorful pop track, providing us with a tune that has a nice melody attached to it. don’t get me wrong, content-wise, XXXTENTACION opens up about his depression, which makes the track a lot more meaningful then your average Jonas brother’s pop record.
I think this is the best version of XXXTENTACION.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. INTRODUCTION (INSTRUCTIONS) (N/A)
2. ALONE (4.4/5)
3. MOONLIGHT (4.7/5)
4. SAD (5/5)
5. THE REMEDY OF A BROKEN HEART (4.6/5)
6. FLOOR 555 (3.4/5)
7. NUMB (4.6/5)
8. INFINITY (888) (4.5/5)
9. GOING DOWN (3/5)
10. PAIN = BEST FRIRND (2.9/5)
11. $$$ (3.6/5)
12. LOVE YOURSELF (INTERLYDE) (3.1/5)
13. SMASH (3.8/5)
14. I DONT EVEN SPEAK SPANISH (4.5/5)
15. CHANGES (4/5)
16. HOPE (4.6/5)
17. SCHIZOPHRENIA (3/5)
18. BEFORE I CLOSE MYY EYES (4/5)
XXX probably came back to earth on this sophomore album.
the body of work on “?” doesn’t quite flow like it did in “17,” it’s a lot more erratic. i can tell his intentions were to make an album that sounded like this, and unfortunately, i think it translates to some poor music for a good chunk of the time.
i’m no scientist or mathematician, but i’m pretty sure a formula consisting of mumble rap and uncontrollable shouting probably translates to s–t people aren’t trying to hear (i’m trying to tread lightly because i don’t want to knock his artistry). in his previous album, he seemed a little more tamed, never really showing that bat s–t crazy side of himself. on “?,” he shows it, and tries to blend it in with this gentle version of himself that ultimately results in the musical version of a bad mixed drink at the bar.
there wasn’t many full songs on “?,” but i think the ones that were can be legitimate fan favorites (i actually love the first half of this album). in songs like “infinity (888)” and “hope,” the florida artist shows the world he has a pretty decent ear for music, showing us that he can morph himself into whatever style of artist the song needs. unfortunately, those songs simply sound like teasers when you combine it with the other throwaways, which ultimately leaves me wanting more.
you know what this project reminds me of? the musical version of one of those emo notebooks that has all of those random stickers on it. its unpredictable, has no filter, and at times challenges all of our definitions of what music actually is. i love the artistic approach, but cannot deny that the music suffers because of it at times.
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.