Review Summary: XXXTENTACION releases yet another slab of mediocre musicianship coupled with lame attempts to portray emotions that are far too sophisticated for an artist with an apparent inability to craft mature, complete songs.
XXXTENTACION is a hip-hop/genre blending artist residing from Florida, who within the last couple of years has been catapulted to stardom thanks to his first major single, "LOOK AT ME!" While I have found specific songs of X's that were enjoyable and all together fun to listen to, the artist has always failed to deliver a complete, masterfully done project. With many fans and critics patiently awaiting his latest endeavor, will """ live up to the hype"
The short answer, unfortunately, is a resounding no. The same issues that plagued last year's "17" are evident on nearly every song you'll hear on this album. on "17," X's biggest problem was the short, vague, and altogether underwhelming length of the songs on the album's already moderately length-ed tracklist. I truly wish I could say things were different this time around, but they are not. While this album has a longer tracklist at eighteen tracks, the total length of the album is still only 37 minutes. Don't worry about doing the math, I did it for you. That brings the average song length to about two minutes. Don't get me wrong, I understand the intent. Short songs can be short and sweet, while getting straight to the point and not wasting any time. However, the sometimes monumental topics that XXXTENTACION is trying to address, simply require a little more thought, time, and effort.
On "Introduction(instructions)," it's hardly fifteen seconds until X is telling us that this album will be done in a more "passive, and ingenious" way; he then warns fans that they must "open [their] mind" before embarking on this mediocre and incredibly disappointing project. You shouldn't have to warn your listeners before the album, X. The first two songs pass by without giving the listener anything to hold on to, and then comes "SAD!," which is possibly the best song on the album. It's catchy, has a decent duration, X has control over his voice, and it does not try to be anything more than it is. Unfortunately for the listener, the next track up is back to routine for X. "The Remedy For a Broken Heart" is yet one more pseudo-deep sad song that serves up nothing even close to memorable.
"Floor 555" gives us an already much needed change of pace, but only for a minute and a half. I do think that out of all the styles X goes for, the more banger-focused trap songs are where he thrives the most. Still, not even a single song stint of my preferred flavor of X's music could revive this boring and unfocused album.
For the most part, aside from the Joey Bada$$ featuring track "Infinity (888)", the rest of the album goes by without anything being particularly exciting. As for absolute duds, the album has plenty to offer. One example would have to be the utterly horrendous "I Don't Even Speak Spanish lol," or the incomprehensibly disappointing "Pain = BESTFRIEND." Only XXX could waste a Travis Barker feature by putting him on a song that is not even a minute and three quarters long. "Schizophrenia" is no better than any of the previously mentioned songs, with its God awful and nauseatingly corny refrain of "don't give up" throughout the final moments of the track. Or the borderline disrespectful "Hope," which finds X trying to provide a source of comfort for the victims of the Parkland school shooting, and victims of violence at large. If, as an artist, you decide to write a song about a topic as serious and complicated as a school shooting, one would assume you'd have more to say than a less-than-two-minute song would provide you the chance to do. And please, please do not get me started on the Matt Ox feature on "$$$." Can somebody please explain why anyone would think it was a good idea to put his chorus on that song" Not that it being a solo track would have made it any better with cringe-worthy "bars" (if you can even call them that) such as "like wait, wait, uh, ska-ate, uh/ spin on my dick like a beyblade, uh/". If you are going to half-assedly adlib your way through a verse where you aren't going to even try to say anything important or clever, than it's is usually in your best interest to have some worthwhile production. That is why songs such as "LOOK AT ME!" have worked for X in the past.
Next to the lackluster duration time of this project, perhaps the next largest hindrance would be X's inability to do any of his styles justice. I can see why fans of X would praise and admire his attempts to try new things and incorporate different genres of music into his own individual sound, but it all means nothing when X can not do any of these genres well. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of artists making the same type of music that X tries to, except they are doing it properly and with a bit more authenticity. That is not to say that I am doubting that XXXTENTACION has gone through pain and strife -- but it is to say that (as of now) he cannot express these emotions well in a song.
After "17," I was really hoping that X would take a look at a lot of the criticism for that album, and use it to hone in his sound on the next project. Unfortunately that was not the case. If I had to choose a highlight from this project, it would probably be the Joey Bada$$ feature. Personally I do not see myself looking forward to any new music from this artist. Unless XXX can develop his sound and make a more powerful and cohesive album, he seems to be doomed to mediocrity.