XXXTENTACION
?


0.5

Review

by Jordan M. STAFF
March 21st, 2018 | 154 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Give up.

Here’s a question: Why"

It’s such a big, empty, meaningless question. But it’s an important question to ask; Why, for instance, do we listen to XXXTentacion" Why do we discuss his new album" Why do we forgive it for being better than 17" Why does he continue to garner co-signs from bigger, better artists" What is the ‘Why"’ of XXXTentacion" Why should I care"

As someone who writes about music a lot, and for whom this business of art and expression is of at least some consequence, I genuinely try at all times to have empathy not just for subjects but those who listen to them. It’s an extension of deferring to subjectivity as an explainer, but also an effective device for avoiding overt displays of cynicism in assessing music that I might have overseen. In effect, though I try to have some authority over what I’m listening to and what I’m saying, I try to leave some room for opinions to squirm, adapt, or shift. Sometimes, though, I listen to music so obnoxiously and obviously bad that it’s hard to abide by those principles. As a recent example of this, Eminem’s Revival managed to irritate my critical faculties and move me towards expressing my opinions in the form of shit, inarticulate ranting; however, I did still try to provide a measure of distance by heeding the fact that, yes, Eminem did have some career and narrative that could provide context and perspective on this bad album that stood before me. In contrast, XXXTentacion’s " has no obvious piece or argument against which I can measure its quality. 17 was a bad album, and that’s that. There’s just no way of observing this prism of poor taste beyond simply and unequivocally communicating that it is bad.

I know that it might be difficult to read that statement as self-evident— what with this inarticulate, frustrated, and childish man admitting to attacking homosexuals and his girlfriend for no apparent reason, and then promoting those occurrences as inspirational or moments of pride for him both in conversation and in song— so, in the interest of compelling the widest readership possible that " is not worth more than the most cursory of thoughts, I want to try to address the exact ‘Why"’ of XXXTentacion, whether that be his career, this album, or his listenership. And I want to do it whilst restraining myself from passionately and rhetorically becoming exacerbated with the ridiculous phenomenon that is XXXTentacion.

Here’s the thing, though. I can’t do it. I really can’t. It is honestly just far too ***ing difficult for me to suspend my emotional faculties for too long without seeing that " is succeeding in any way at all, whether that be critically or commercially. For me, to see that " is gaining even a modicum of equivocation and qualification from critics is the most disappointing aspect of all of this, and although it’s retaining a relative critical backlash— nobody is pausing for this disparate atrocity— there’s a narrative building that " is somehow an improvement on 17. Which it isn’t. It isn’t better than 17. 17 is bad, but it’s possible to listen to both and recognize that they’re both bad. This exercise in granting credence to emotionally stunted, bad musicians is something that is truly stunning to bare witness to.

Mind, this is all without even discussing " as a piece of music, which is itself a task of patience and perseverance that, again, I would argue XXXTentacion has not earned nor should we accord to him. But in the interest of reviewing the music, the explanation of "’s badness is plain: he is a musically inept, emotionally challenged, uninspired narcissist, totally bereft of the ability to incorporate influences into songs driven by melodies and rhythm, and for whom instead bad simulacrum of bad songs becomes a songwriting skillset. In execution, his performances and compositions hue close to the amateurish, barely noticeable, laptop generated beats found somewhere in the margins of SoundCloud’s ‘type-’ beat section. The songs noodle on endlessly, and unlike, say, Chief Keef, who contemporaneously reinvented genre and musical convention with his unschooled production techniques, they possess no charm or potential for reinvention. " merely houses songs that are poorly written to an almost comical degree.

Take for instance “Sad!,” which, if you can ignore the obvious reference and the horrendously mean-spirited lyrics (‘Suicide if you ever try to let go’), doesn’t do much beyond dawdle aimlessly past a repeated chorus and bridging verse. The inflection on the melody is perhaps of slight interest, but that’s without ceding that it doesn’t shift, change, or emphasize itself at all in the space of under three-minutes— a long, laborious, difficult three minutes. As an archetype, it represents the bulk of "’s intrinsic faults, being that XXXTentacion is so incapable of writing music that is simply tasteful that he fails to meet even the secondary qualities of passable. " is less than 40-minutes long, boasts a wealth of variety in instrumentation and genres explored, and gives XXX enough space in which to try new things with his vocals. The problem however is that he does almost nothing with all of this free space, and instead leans into a style that any teenager with a computer could muster if they too had an attention problem; for an album where “Sad!” is the single and choice cut, that’s rather poor.

Which is fitting, because " is a poor album. Much like 17, it features an introductory explainer that serves to explore the themes of the record; however, instead of ‘literally entering [his] mind,’ he implores the listener to, ‘open your mind.’ Opening to the mind what, though, is a mystery, because the salad of styles on display here run a relatively minor spectrum between nu-metal, midwestern emo, trap, boom bap, and pop rock, and don’t offer much in the way of a major shift from XXX’s either hyper-aggressive or sulky-miserable style he’s explored prior. The more inquisitive listener might understand that introduction to be an excuse rather than a disclaimer, a verbal signal that XXX cannot let his music speak for itself either because he isn’t capable of writing music so basically passable that it can speak for itself, or because he is readily aware that most people would not want to actively listen to bad music. Either way, he’s right; an open mind is just about the only thing that can shepard a listener through “Pain = BESTFRIEND,” a laughable lunge into screaming and digestible punk music; it’s the only thing that would make “I Don’t Even Speak Spanish Lol” not sound like a completely laughable and unaware attempt at a sleeper dancehall hit; and, moreover, it’s the only thing that could make anybody want to bother with “Changes,” an obvious aping of The Script that gives XXX space in which to channel his melodramatic whining. One can only imagine that if they were to open their mind in this context, then they would be doing a disservice to themselves first and foremost.

Believe me when I say that it causes me both intellectual and emotional pain to finish an argument by encouraging listeners to close their minds, but when the alternative is so brilliantly crude and inept, I feel as if I have no other choice than to do exactly that. I had to ask myself when reviewing "; [/i]Why[/i]" I still don’t think I can answer that question. The ‘Why"’ that surrounds XXXTentacion’s existence and continuing commercial and critical existence confounds me, as much as I am aware of how I must be providing at least some degree of infamy in airing my grievances with him. For that, I apologize. However, I do so because I don’t want others to have to listen to albums like "; albums that inexplicably receive praise and plaudits despite being so obviously and self-evidently not good. I can state my case in as many words, trying to write rhetorical ellipses around my argument, but I can just as simply say it simply: please do not listen to this album.



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17


Comments:Add a Comment 
Arcade
Staff Reviewer
March 20th 2018


83 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5

i’ve gone absolutely italics mad

Digging: Clarence Clarity - THINK: PEACE

Asdfp277
March 20th 2018


18953 Comments


try using this character for questions: ?

one day the glitch will be fixed







one day

IcelandRevel
March 20th 2018


892 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I know you're staff, and you have been chosen to deliver quality critiques. I understand your qualms with ?, and I am not trying to change your opinion on this album. I would like to say, though, that this doesn't exactly read like a staff review at the moment. You use the word "I" 28 times. And with full knowledge of the question-mark bug, you use that character a lot. It almost looks like you're abusing it.

You say you wanted to review this album while "restraining [your]self from passionately and rhetorically becoming exacerbated" and immediately admit that it was impossible to do. So why did you try at all? It's not like this review is terrible, but it feels a bit confusing. You're simultaneously reviewing the album, and repelling the thought of taking the review seriously.

Asdfp277
March 20th 2018


18953 Comments


review is a little too self-referential, yea

a lot, actually

illmatic89
March 20th 2018


2 Comments


Only good song on the album is "Infinity(888)" ft Joey Badass which I'm surprised you didn't mention in your review, and it's only good cuz of Joey and the beat. I give the album .01 out of 10 for Joey's verse.

IcelandRevel
March 21st 2018


892 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I would also like to say that this review is looooong. Especially for a 0.5 which focuses a bit too much on poking fun at the artist rather than the album.

TheSleepys
March 21st 2018


281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You basically wrote a review about how you can't actually review this album lmao

TheSleepys
March 21st 2018


281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"But it’s an important question to ask; Why, for instance, do we listen to XXXTentacion?" "Why do we discuss his new album?"



Well some people like his music and he is a controversial and popular figure in the music industry right now.



"For me, to see that "?" is gaining even a modicum of equivocation and qualification from critics is the most disappointing aspect of all of this"



I mean everyone has different opinions...



"In execution, his performances and compositions hue close to the amateurish, barely noticeable, laptop generated beats found somewhere in the margins of SoundCloud’s ‘type-’ beat section."



Yeah...its a subgenre of rap called "SoundCloud rap"

JayEnder
March 21st 2018


2364 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I agree he sucks but what an unfair review

gryndstone
March 21st 2018


1140 Comments


bad review

DirEnRefused
March 21st 2018


3456 Comments


bad album but christ you really got on your pompous, self engrossed pedestal for this one.

i like floor 555 and the joey feature track though

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2018


17905 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5

X stans come crawling out wew

Digging: Townes Van Zandt - Delta Momma Blues

hansoloshotfirst
March 21st 2018


1075 Comments


seeing a 0.5 always puts a smile on my face.

TheMrAlexK
March 21st 2018


10393 Comments


^Looks like some people forgot to open their mind upon listening to this album

FourthReich
March 21st 2018


3178 Comments


Free my lil nigga xxx-rap scene atm


We don't care about abusing women just your sick bars-rap scene since the 80s

Toad
March 21st 2018


1982 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

i'm glad we have a staff member who's willing to take an unabashed shit on a shit album. its pretty telling when the mountains people will die on are those that are least worth protecting

Prancer
March 21st 2018


852 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"i like floor 555 and the joey feature track though"

two of the only good tracks here

DirEnRefused
March 21st 2018


3456 Comments


literally every commenter in this thread has said they think the album's bad where are you guys getting this from

Asdfp277
March 21st 2018


18953 Comments


[2]

lmao

SteakByrnes
March 21st 2018


13295 Comments


nice

Digging: Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want



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