Beautiful Music and Painful Content
Written by Jason Terrell
TheSonicbreakdown.com is aware of the legal claims against this artist and do not condone any violence of any kind which includes domestic violence. At this time he is still being investigated and we will let the legal system determine his guilt or innocence. So please keep that in mind as you read this article.
If you’re like me, then you probably never heard of XXXTentacion, or if you have heard of him, it may not be in the best of situations [XXXTentacion Gets Punched While Performing on Stage in San Diego]. I admit that I wrote Triple X off, and I had no intention of listening to this project, but DAMN I was wrong!
“17” is the first major release of XXXTentacion, and he establishes himself as a pioneer of his class. It’s hard to describe his style but picture the creativity of Chance the Rapper wrapped in an Emo package, that’s XXX. I’d call him the Anti-Chance. I don’t mean they have any personal beef but he’s the Anti-Chance purely in content. Both are creative and have a good ear for music but where Chance is full of joy and gospel, XXX takes a moodier approach and his content is about about rage and depression.
THEME: From the opening monologue, X tells everyone, Fuck You. Not literally but he explains that the album is for people with depression and who struggle with mental health. He isn’t looking for money or acclaim, but instead, he made a project to heal. The album is meant to be restorative, and Triple X does an excellent job describing his mindset and thoughts around suicide, depression, and fear.
We know how important mental health awareness is, especially in hip hop. Some artist have publicly gone on record (Cudi, Kanye, Joe Budden) to share their experiences with mental health [Kanye West Reportedly Suffering From Paranoia And Extreme Depression]. There are also many artists who speak on their depression in their music but don’t publicly talk about it, just listen to Future.
LYRICS & PRODUCTION: “17” is heartfelt and painful. On first listen, you’ll stop and at least digest what he’s saying, if you’re empathetic or have experiences with suicide or depression, it will strike a painful nerve and maybe even bring tears.
X paints pictures. Take a look at the track, “Jocelyn Flores”. X describes how the death of a girlfriend and uncle impacted his life and ultimately contributed to his depression.
Picture this, in bed, get a phone call
Girl that you fucked with killed herself
That was this summer and nobody helped
And ever since then, man, I hate myself
Wanna fuckin’ end it, pessimistic
You can visualize and almost feel his pain, maybe you want to even reach out to him.
Sonically, the album full of influences from artist like Cudi and Kanye. I am not a rock fan, but I can tell he is impacted by this culture too. What I like about X is that he brings in a fresh sound that has mass appeal. He can sing and rap over trap inspired beats and acoustic guitar riffs.
The production is beautiful and complex. In some ways, the beautiful production is a perfect balance with his moody and depressing vibe. “Revenge” is the best depiction of this. The acoustic melody gets your head vibing, but then you’re floored with the opener “I dug two graves for us, my dear”. It’s simply beautiful music and painful content.
IMPACT: The album is short, 10 Tracks with about 2-2:30 min for each song but I finished satisfied. Because of the painful content, I don’t think I could take more. Personally, the album places me in a mortal place, I was aware of my humanity, something that can be very overwhelming. I think everyone has spells of depression and anxiety and we all use different coping strategies to handle it. I know mine is music, so in some ways, the album was needed.
But, overall, XXXTentacion is here to stay and I look for his future projects.