XXXTENTACION’s serious legal situation — and consequently precarious freedom — coupled with his non-stop trolling of Drake made more headlines than his actual music. Everything else aside, the 19-year-old artist has quite a lot in common with the Based God, Lil’B. Mainly, that true-blue Hip Hoppers have a difficult time wrapping their minds around the allure the artists seem to possess.
Pigeons And Planes once described his music as having the ability to “make your ears bleed” — which is fair, honestly. His breakout hit “Look At Me” and ‘hits’ like the aptly titled “#sippinteainyohood” feature loud, distorted, blown out lo-fi madness, which is quite jarring upon first listen. But, a deep dive through his catalog reveals a surprising amount of depth, experimentation, and personal demons that are likely the root of the inexplicable draw youth have towards him. In many ways, he resembles a Hip Hop version of Kurt Cobain; a rough around the edges tortured soul going against the grain.
Ride or die Hip Hop heads may not have the patience to sift through his SoundCloud page in search of a sound they can vibe to, so here are five songs that will introduce you to Triple X in a palatable way.
XXXTENTACION f. Kin$oul & Killstation – “Slipknot”
His latest batch of songs included the gem “Slipknot,” a piano-driven, jazzy track. No distortion, just a dose hefty wordplay coated in self-awareness. It’s a reminder that he’s not only well-aware of his situation, but that he suffers from depression — something he explores a lot throughout his music.
“Lost in the pessimistic state of perception, it’s been/ Hard to participate in natural instances, it is/ Due to my history, I Don’t know what’s next for me.”
XXXTENTACION f. Killstation – “Snow”
“Snow” is a drum-less, atmospheric look into the darkness that seems to surround this kid. Again, persistent themes of death, insecurity, sadness. Where Drake’s often criticized and crowned for his emo crooning, XXX’s emotions sound raw and believable.
“I see, black skies, and white lies, I’d rather be/Dead, filling my head with different enemies/Thoughts consuming me, fueling my insecurities/As the ground right under crumbles as if it wasn’t there/It’s too much, my heart’s crushed, I’m not alive.”
XXXTENTACION – “Let’s Pretend We’re Numb”
“Let’s Pretend We’re Numb” is a song about a lost relationship. Although he’s only 19, he — as evidenced by everything he’s put out there — loves hard. The loss of this particular relationship found its way into some his records. This was the most poetic, though. Emotions range from sadness and jealousy to anger as he describes his inability to move on.
“How you feelin with these niggas that you talk to?/Captivated by your mind and your walk too/Can’t replace you with these bitches that I talk to/They say “lust is love” we had trust, what’s good?”
XXXTENTACION – “RIOT”
As the most aggressive record of this bunch, “RIOT” squarely attacks racism in America with an excerpt from a Klan rally, as an outro. It seems to both condemn senseless violence in his community while condoning it against those who perpetuate racial injustice. That’s putting it mildly. Just try to find an anti-police bar harder than “Bath in blood of officers.”
XXXTENTACION – “Vice City”
“I seem depressed, always being bothered never less/Keeping me out of prison and putting me to the test” opens up “Vice City,” which appears to be his first song — on SoundCloud anyways. It’s since gained online notoriety among his fan base, but it’s sound and content, although dope in hindsight, didn’t quite win over the heads off the top.
Perhaps the biggest issues listeners have is that they expect him to sound a specific way. “I do multi-genre, I don’t just rap,” he told Genius in an interview from jail. Right, his catalog of material runs the gambit from Weeknd-esque ambient singing to straight-up alt-rock. Still, the above should demonstrate that he understands what it is the Hip Hop community as a whole expects to hear, he just doesn’t care to be in a box.
Check out all four of XXXTENTACION’s new songs he’s released in anticipation of his upcoming mixtape here.