Xxxtentacion (Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy) was certainly a figure of much controversy and a particularly troubled individual.
After a difficult and unstable childhood the rapper from Florida developed a habit of getting caught up with the law for different crimes. At the time of his death on June 18th, 2018, Onfroy was awaiting trial for domestic abuse charges. This is his third complete album following 17 (August 2017) and ? (March 2018), with Revenge (May 2017) being considered more of a mixtape. SKINS is made up of previously unreleased material and is Xxxtentacion’s first posthumous album.
There are certainly things missing from the album which is no real surprise as many of the tracks were likely unfinished at the time of the rapper’s shooting. Introduction, which opens the album, uses a robotic voice to invite the listener into Xxxtentacion’s world with the words “Hello, you’ve come here in search of release, huh? Feeling the need to inspire your soul.” Xxxentacion takes a look back at a destroyed relationship (Guardian angel) and deals with death and the consequences of choosing the wrong path in life (Train food). Many of the tracks consist of hooks which are missing the substance between them, for example, the track whoa (mind in awe) which is nicely produced. There is certainly variety of style on this record as Xxxtentacion, like he did on previous albums, incorporates elements of heavy metal on tracks such as STARING AT THE SKY and One Minute. The latter of these two tracks features Kanye West, who defends Xxxtentacion’s tarnished reputation with the lyrics “Now your name is tainted, by the claims they painting/The defendant is guilty, no one blames the plaintiff.” Either side of I don’t let go (the closest to a modern rap record) we have stripped down acoustic tracks (difference (interlude) and what are you so afraid of) which, despite potentially not being ready for release, showcase the rappers vocal talent. In these previously unreleased fragments we can hear a certain degree of pain in Xxxtentacion’s voice and his troubling lyrics. Whatever you think of the artist, there is something quite endearing and musically pure about these unfinished pieces, despite the lack of actual rapping.
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