Kenneth Edison, Editor-in-Chief
Follow him at @krazo1
Florida rapper XXXTentacion makes his studio album debut with “17”, an album that at its best is a collection of dark, moody background music and at its worst is a cringe inducing, edgy disaster.
XXXTentacion is a polarizing figure, and it doesn’t take more than a simple Google search to see why. Aside from looking like a depressed anime character with facial tattoos and blonde dreadlock highlights, X has an extensive history of domestic violence accusations. These accusations recently returned to plague X’s public image after court testimony from one of his alleged victims was picked up by Pitchfork on Sept. 8.
Despite the controversy surrounding X, many were anticipating his studio album debutafter his strong performance on the XXL freshman freestyle and his loud, explosive singles like “Look at Me.” “17,” however, is a bit of a departure from X’s usual scream filled violent style, opting instead for mellow ballads and monotone bars exploring the rapper’s troubled mind.
Where the album tries to come off as an introspective and emotional blow to the listener’s psyche, it instead sounds like the edgy ramblings of a 13-year-old boy whining about how no one understands him.
The album features many slow and moody piano and guitar melodies alongside dreamy trap beats that do sound intriguing, but ultimately X does little to capitalize on that intrigue with his lyrics or vocal performances.
Songs like “Jocelyn Flores” introduce an interesting beat with a decent vocal sample in the background. However, X’s whiny lyrics about being “trapped in [his] own mind,” elicit nothing but an eyeroll.
This is a trend that plays out across every song on the album, with songs like “Save Me” showcasing X’s cringey vocal attempts that ring with tones similar to emo bands like My Chemical Romance. These sombre vocal performances seem more like they are written for preteens going through their first experience of being rejected by their 8th grade crush.
Not only are the tracks on “17” entirely uninspiring, the few that show some kind of potential are cut painfully short since not a single song on this album is longer than three minutes, with many being as short as a minute and a half long. The entire album lasts only 22 minutes, leaving the listener feeling like everything ends before an emotional connection can be made.
Even though the material on “17” would fail to inspire much emotion no matter who produced it, the “poor me” attitude of the album is infinitely worsened by X’s alleged history of victimizing others in his personal life.
There is often a conundrum that fans face when their favorite artists do questionable things. The age old question of whether producing great music is enough for listeners to overlook the artist’s checked past is one that many still struggle with. Luckily, XXXTentacion saves audiences from this conundrum by releasing an album that even his most die-hard fans will have trouble defending.