Rapper XXXTentacion’s album Skins is not so “BAD!”

X leaves a ? concerning his music for fans after his death

Bad Vibes Forever

Bad Vibes Forever

Elizabeth Humphreys, Reporter

A new addition to the ever-growing supply of posthumous music, Jahseh Onfroy, better known as XXXTentacion (X), had his album Skins released on Dec. 7. Tragically shot and killed last June, X is known for his depressing vibe of music as well as his original screamo techniques. Different from his previous albums such as Members Only, 17 and ?, Skins is an interesting creation that I didn’t expect to come from X.

Only featuring 10 tracks, Skins began with “BAD!,” a single released slightly before the rest of the album on Nov. 9. Being one of the only good tracks on the album, “BAD!” is one of my top picks, along with “what are you so afraid of,” “Guardian angel,” and “Train food.”

“BAD!” is certainly about a lot of bad things, as it is with most of X’s music. He focuses on his severe masochism– a debilitating physcosexual disorder that includes the feeling of pleasure after receiving pain. Interestingly enough, in order to convey this, X uses an extremely catchy beat in which fans might listen to but miss the message of the song. He mentions this disorder in several songs, particularly in his song “Pain = BESTFRIEND” off of the album ?.

“I might be insane, yeah/But I love the pain, yeah/Feel it in the brain, yeah,” he wrote in “BAD!”

But pain and death has always been a major facet of X’s music, every song intricately detailing his prolonged suffering. A very controversial figure, X was accused of domestic assault back in 2016, by his ex-girlfriend Geneva Ayala, from which he claimed he was innocent. This event out of many was a key factor in shaping his music, as he wrote about the problems in his own life and the world.  

Rapping about his ex-girlfriend Ayala all throughout 17 as well as this track on Skins, X takes a stylistic turn with the track “what are you so afraid of” as he tries one last time to change her mind about him. He dedicated the last song of 17 to her, naming it “Ayala (Outro).”

The most beautiful song on Skins, “what are you so afraid of” describes X’s only desire, just to love someone and be loved by them. Here he questions love, fearing that it is a waste of time. Although it is only two minutes and 30 seconds long, X is still able to convey a powerful sublime effect to listeners.

“What are you so afraid of?/Is it love or wasting your time?” he wrote.

As for “Train food,” it begins with playing the sound effects of train tracks at a station, and then X begins speaking. The song tells a story of an individual’s encounter with the personified Death, as he reflects on the inescapable fate of dying. The eerie piano part of this goes along with the staggering vocals as X scream-raps about the ending life of the character as a thunderstorm accompanies him in the background.

While “Train food” has a very unique sound, “Guardian angel” is similar to “Jocelyn Flores,” one of X’s most popular songs off of 17. This is because it is recorded over reversed instrumental of that song. Named after his friend, X is heartbroken when he learns that Flores had committed suicide. Both “Jocelyn Flores” and “Guardian angel” touch on his grief for her.

Another interesting track that contrasts with some of the others is “whoa (mind in awe).” It takes on a lighter sound, which makes it sound extremely happy and upbeat, but is actually about X’s troubled past where he attempted to provide for his family. This takes on a similar vibe to “I don’t let go,” which is also featured on Skins.

One similarity between Skins, 17 and ? is that they each start off with an introduction track, where X speaks to the purpose he has for each album. On Skins, it is simply named “Introduction,” and it contains a robot that repeats a message.

“Hello, you’ve come here in search of release, huh?/Feeling the need to inspire your soul?/Wanting to disappear to a place you could feel outside of your skin?/Well, you’ve found one: a place within my mind,” it said.

This differs from “The Explanation” on 17 and “Introduction (instructions)” on ?, where X himself is speaking. In all of these, the importance of being able to open your mind to hear the music correctly is highly stressed.

I think that though Skins has an unusual sound overall, it should be approached with an open mind as X would have wanted. At first listen, my impression was that it was not very good, but after really analyzing each song I took a liking to Skins and each song grew on me.

With no misgivings about dying, X frequently voiced his opinions on death and how much he despised lost love for being the cause of his depression. Often toying at the idea of suicide in all his albums, Skins is not quite as good as 17, but still contains some very well written tracks.

“I won’t be mad at all if I die right now,” X said in a Tweet before his death. “In the end my music will live on.”

As well as his music living on, X will also continue to have a legacy. Recently, X’s mother, Cleo Bernard, confirmed that he was expecting a son with his girlfriend Jenesis Sanchez before his death. They named him “Gekyume,” a word that X had created himself, meaning a different state or next universe of thought. The baby is due to be born in January 2019.

Rating: B