XXXTENTACION
?


3.0
good

Review

by Conmaniac CONTRIBUTOR (70 Reviews)
May 21st, 2018 | 613 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Here's a better question: why not?

XXXTentacion is objectively a bad person. I’d argue ? is far from an objectively bad album and should not be dismissed as such. Maybe it’s because I have some shithead friends that love to blast that angsty trap as a half-joke, half-serious sort of thing (6ix9ine, Lil Pump, etc.). Maybe it’s also due to the fact that I was a supporter of this artist before the accusations came to light, even going as far as seeing him live in concert. And honestly, it’s probably a bit of both; it makes sense that if you hear an album over and over again (and I mean a lot, my roommates were obsessed) you’re going to begin to appreciate it more and more. I think familiarity is comforting, in a way, but due to the separation needed between the artist and the album in this case, the same must be done for myself and my personal experiences with him.

Objectively, XXX is surprisingly adequate at making pop/trap music in the vein of sadboi indie rock. While ‘Moonlight’ and ‘SAD!’ obviously follow the current production trends while simultaneously maintaining some surprisingly catchy hooks, it’s the lowkey track right after that provides proof this artist is consciously improving on his sound. In fact, ‘the remedy for a broken heart’ could’ve snugly fit on 17 as I’d say it’s an improvement in every way from the tired, downtrodden release (with maybe the exception of ‘Joycelyn Flores’). While he’s not the best singer in the game by any means, I find it extremely difficult to say he’s not talented, especially when hearing him croon “I / oh I / am falling for you ” in a near-perfect falsetto to close out the song. While the sudden shift in style towards the mainstream might be mistaken as an attempt to win back lost fans, it honestly seems as if XXX is genuinely exhibiting how he can keep up with the Rae Sremmurd’s of the trap game.

It’s clear however that XXX does not want to just be known for his recent endeavours in the guitar-heavy slow beats. In fact, soundcloud fans know his aspirations for musical experimentation and genre collisions have been going on ever since he got started. Yet, in a strange twist of fate he’s decided to commercially market these musical lab experiments with much slicker production and some “positive” messages in the lyric department. Some of these tracks end up flourishing, especially when he turns up the fire within the yelled bars in ‘Floor 555’. There’s something inherently chilling about the beat as well, almost as if the mood matches the personality a bit too well. XXX has never been afraid to hide who he is, and that’s why it’s easily the most convincingly real song on here. Same deal with ‘Pain = BESTFRIEND’, a bi-polar outbreak of a song, switching from a plucked acoustic guitar to some barreling live drums (by Travis Barker, mind you) and X himself wailing, “don’t cry / it won’t end / pain will always be my bestfriend ”. While it’s difficult to excuse his actions due to his upbringing, it’d be unfair to say that the history of abuse and neglect in his family hasn’t contributed to the troubled and mentally ill rapper. Sadly, lots of his own complexion bleeds onto the page of ?, staining some of the tracks in the process. ‘Schizophrenia’ is a disturbing attempt to water down the mental illness to simply the “voices in your head ” while implying X himself has some form of it (which has never been confirmed, only implied in previous singles). The latter half of the album is quite disturbingly bad as a result, as X attempts to reignite the pop flair found on the former side with some cringe-worthy attempts like ‘changes’. A lot of these melodies fall flat, and the sudden shifts between styles don’t seem to exactly help the b-sides of ?. Plus, both of his “Spanish” songs are absolutely grating; a genre experimentation not worth looking much more into.

Honestly, it’s quite easy to understand why people would despise this album. It’s disjointed and scatter-brained, filled with some half-baked ideas and lyrics that range from somewhat sincere to downright deceitful. Yet, underneath the troubled exterior, there is undoubtedly some talent that has been put to good use throughout this album. I mean, why else would rappers like Joey Bada$$ agree to put their name on this thing? Judging by Ski Mask’s turbulent friendship with X, it certainly isn’t due to his personality. So yes, Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy should be criminally prosecuted for his actions, but if you add a bit of separation while surrendering some stubbornness, you might actually end up liking bits of this thing. So yeah, why not?



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2018


24306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

DISCLAIMER: I held off from reviewing this album upon release due to some obvious reasons, yet after letting this album sit for a bit I think I’d regret not doing so at all. Before I begin I’d like to make it crystal clear that I do not support this man’s personal life decisions and I will not attempt to defend or excuse any of his past actions. I also realize that by reviewing this album in a (somewhat) positive light I am only further contributing to giving this man attention, which may be mistaken for supporting him as an artist. However, I applaud Spotify’s decision of banning his single from public playlists due to their new policy because socially that is what should be done with artists like X. As someone that has been unable to separate the art from the artist less than a handful of times, I have this contrarian urge to defend the music on this album.



so lmk what you think, review is written in response to Arcade's

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2018


18319 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5

bruh

Digging: Pet Shop Boys - Behaviour

neekafat
May 21st 2018


13943 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Will this convince me?

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2018


16596 Comments


Good review, I’m a fan of people grappling with “problematic” (ok ok, this guy seems like a real scumbag so maybe it’s more than that) artists and their contrary feelings about the art they produce rather than dismissing it out of hand—although surely lots of people out there really do think this is a .5/5. The question of giving these artists a public and a voice is considerably knottier. But so many great artists probably did unspeakable things we just don’t know about, yknow?

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2018


24306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

exactly, I believe it's really a personal thing however. I have no problem with people not being able to separate the art from the artist in this case as it really should be up to the listener to decide if they are able to suspend their emotions before listening. as an artist myself, I'm a strong believer in this separation yet I would never try to force that viewpoint on anyone else.

Doctuses
May 21st 2018


1876 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

this is suspect.

neekafat
May 21st 2018


13943 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah still not interested :/

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2018


24306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

so be it !

TheSpaceMan
May 21st 2018


11763 Comments


*reads a grammatically correct summary*

objectively your best review

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2018


24306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thought you'd like the capital H, Space hahah.

TheSpaceMan
May 21st 2018


11763 Comments


I actually love this entire review so its suitable that you decided to, for once, write a summary I don't needlessly complain about

like for real I want you to get demoted so I can pos you

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2018


24306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hahah aw dude thanks a lot! i'd rather not get demoted tho...lmao

TheSpaceMan
May 21st 2018


11763 Comments


"But so many great artists probably did unspeakable things we just don’t know about, yknow?"

yeah this is a super interesting point I never thought of. Its a weird one too, because how do you approach this idea? Be a pessimist? Love everyone until proven guilty? Where is the line of morality?

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2018


24306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nowadays ppl are just hoping their favorite artists aren't going to get called out for sexual abuse, etc. with artists like Ameer and Cameron from Sorority Noise getting accusations, really no genre is safe anymore from outing past mistakes. Cameron was even considered to be one of the nicest dudes in the scene so it's really tough nowadays. I don't have a universal solution but I definitely have a personal one

TheSpaceMan
May 21st 2018


11763 Comments


Yeah I went to college with Cameron and he was very nice

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2018


24306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'll still jam Sorority Noise tbh, but I just reviewed an XXX album and gave it a 3 so I'm sure that's not surprising.

that's quite the suss comment there space but id prob love u no matter what

bgillesp
May 21st 2018


6435 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Pos

Digging: Trampled By Turtles - Palomino

GmemberKills
May 21st 2018


3692 Comments


figured i'd randomly chime in and say I personally think in most cases it's alright to still listen to a artist after they are accused or found guilty of something, but based on the information available I really have to strongly consider how much I'm gonna support them afterward.

It can be a little sickening to see so many people continue to give a guilty/potentially guilty artist so much time, money, and praise without even thinking twice. Like as much as I still like Crystal Castles, I can say for sure I wouldn't buy a new album from them or ever catch them on tour again.

bgillesp
May 21st 2018


6435 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

What did this guy do?

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2018


24306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh man just look it up. beat up pregnant gf for starters but there’s lots more...

and yes @Gmemberkills I completely agree. hence why i liked that spotify is taking streaming money away from this dude. usually if an artist is accused of something like this i’ll stop supporting them in any financial sense (concerts, buying merchandise / music, etc) which I think is the best route if one still wants to listen to the music behind closed doors



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