“?” is an album from the incredibly popular SoundCloud rapper, XXXTENTACION. X dropped a short album titled “17” last year that centered on X’s depression and suicidal thoughts, and “?” follows some of the same themes, while also looking into ideas of love, heartbreak and the various emotions that X is feeling.
Aside from the clear issues I have with X as a human being, “17” was a moody piece that lasted 20 minutes, but felt incredibly lacking of anything that was remotely interesting, so I was not excited to hear his newest album. Still, X has shown fire in a few of his singles and definitely has some talent, but I still came in simply hoping that he could bring that talent into a full project.
Early on in this album, X does show his ability to make some catchy tracks with really strong production. Where X is his best is with some hooks that he can bring his decent singing voice onto a high tempo beat like on songs like “Moonlight” and “SAD!.”
“ALONE, PART 3” shows more strong vocals while having a nice beat, and even though the song is quite short, it does bring the moody sound that X is known for, and it brings it successfully without hurting my ears.
“infinity (888)” has a terrific Joey Bada$$ feature to save the rest of the track, and I do like the closer, “before I close my eyes,” and the simplicity of the song that brings out more strong vocal work that I had not been impressed with in the past.
Quickly after “SAD!,” the album goes downhill, and in a big way. The biggest problem with “?,” of the handful of issues this album has, must be the pure incoherency of it all. There is no rhyme or reason to this album, as it mixes up its pace and its tempo with every single proceeding song, and the result is a muddled mess of a project that quickly becomes taxing to listen to, even at under 40 minutes.
Where X improves in his vocals, he declines in his rapping, as most of the verses he delivers are lacking emotion, lacking clever lyrics and lacking in proper pronunciation. If we’re being honest, the dude sounds like he has peanut butter in his mouth for most of his verses, and it is tough to find something of note that he’s saying in his lyrics.
Take “NUMB” for example, which is literally one chorus repeated three times over a beat. Yeah, dude, you’re sad, that sucks, but make a cohesive track about it, and make one with over 50 words in it. These short little pieces of songs are pretty much a staple of X at this point, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
“Pain = BESTFRIEND” has the same problem of being unfinished, as does “SMASH!,” and “changes,” and “schizophrenia” and the vast majority of the tracks on this thing. Don’t worry though, it can be a good thing that X’s songs are so short, because some of these songs are a heaping pile of trash.
“going down!” may just be the worst on the album with a painfully horrible chorus and verse from X, but then I think about “$$$,” which has maybe the worst feature of all-time with Matt OX sounded like a high-pitched middle schooler fighting his way through puberty. “Pain = BESTFRIEND” has some really awful screamo, showing that X can try and fail at pretty much any genre thrown in front of him.
Nothing perfectly encapsulates just how big of a mess this piece of work is better than “I don’t even speak Spanish lol,” which is a Latino pop song that comes out of absolutely nowhere and for no reason at all. It’s a little catchy, except for X’s cringe-filled verse, but why in the hell is it on this album?
“Hope” is a song made with a great sentiment to the victims of the Parkland shooting, but the track does not make any strong statements or work well enough as a track to leave any sort of impact, which makes the meaning behind the song feel even worse considering how lackluster this finished product is.
The worst “song” on the album must be the intro, which is a set of instructions telling the listener to “open their mind” to new genres, while X kisses his ass talking about how much this is an improvement from “17.” Hey X, Wyatt here, I may have hated your last album quite a bit, but at least it stayed consistent and stayed short. This piece of work you’re putting out, it’s not an improvement, it might actually be worse, so you can save the shitty instructions next time, it doesn’t make what you’re doing here impressive.
“?” starts off well enough, but it ends in a pit of fire, burning me slowly until it made “Lil Boat 2” look like “To Pimp a Butterfly.” There is not one track that feels finished, yet again, as X needs to learn how to make a coherent song with more than one verse, because it’s not cute to make tracks that sound like iTunes previews. The lyrics are trash, the rap delivery is boring as hell and the diversity of the genres covered here means nothing in terms of quality. X thinks he is a God-level artist who can do everything, but he is really just terrible at almost every genre he attempts, and “?” shows the absolute worst of what XXXTENTACION brings to the music industry.
Don’t listen to “?”