by Christian Garcia, Knightly News staff reporter
In early March, controversial artist XXXTentacion came back with even more music. His newest album, ?, was released only three months after he was facing several legal issues.
The album is lengthy, containing 16 songs, 1 interlude, and, of course, in proper X fashion, an intro explaining himself to his fans.
X starts off this incredible album by providing “instructions” for his album. His main goal, as he puts was for his “energy and mind to be felt, in a less aggressive way, but a more passive and genius way.” X also warns his fans to open their minds to different music, for this album is mainly an alternative album.
The first actual song, “ALONE, PART 3,” has an incredibly soft tune in the background with a slight pick up in the pace midway. This song is mainly about X’s many past relationships. The title itself is a reference to how he feels: alone. The song in itself is a smooth start for the album.
Secondly, there is “Moonlight” which is one of my personal favorites from this album. It has a really weird beat, but yet extremely smooth and perfect. The best way to describe it is if you took an 80s arcade game and used it as your base for the beat. The lyrics for the chorus are quite positive. In it, he is referring to his goal of making other people happy in order to revive the happiness. He also mentions how he is in a spotlight made of “moonlight,” hence the song title. He refers to this because most people see him as a pioneer for bringing mental health awareness to rap. However, the main verse is rather dark, as he mentions he doesn’t need a Smith & Wesson, and warns people to not mess with him. Near the end of the verse he takes shots at his past girlfriends for damaging him and that they planned to damage him. The only other noticeable part in this song is the bridge which, again, is quite light hearted as he refers to a happiness he receives when a certain girl calls him.
The third song labeled “SAD!” is by far the most popular song, with it ranking 18 on the Billboard Top 100 Charts. This is also one of my favorite songs on the album. It has a fast paced beat that doesn’t really match the topic of the song, but it still manages to sound amazing. The song is adequately titled “SAD!” with X talking about the extremely relatable feelings of heartbreak and crushing on someone you can’t have.
This next song, “the remedy for a broken heart (why am I so in love),” takes a slower approach to heartbreak than it does in the previous song. It has a sample of X repeating the refrain “why am I so in love” throughout the whole song which, in my opinion, really emphasizes how he feels. The beat starts off with a pleasant acoustic background. It then is quickly followed by a little more hip-hop beat. The beginning of the verse is a nod to some of the allegations he was faced with by trying to recover from the hate. The rest of the verse is how he is too passionate for women and that the path to his own restoration will take time. The chorus gives an explanation for the title: even with all the money he has and all the drugs he’s tried he still can’t find the remedy for a broken heart.
The fifth song, “Floor 555,” is another one of my favorites. X does not hold back in this song. “Floor 555” is by far one of the most aggressive songs on the album. He is directly telling people that if they mess with him to make sure that they destroy him or else he will destroy them instead. This is most likely a reference to several feuds with other rappers he’s had that have turned physical.
The next song, “NUMB,” is one of the more unpopular songs on this album. Though unpopular, it is still great. The tune for the song is similar to alternative rock songs. This bold choice is most likely why it receives backlash from his hardcore rap fans. The lyrics match the tune perfectly with X summing up how each break up leaves him “drowning in his tears.” He also recognizes the fact that he seems to forget the pain that follows after heartbreak.
Next on the album is “infinity (888) [feat. Joey Bada$$].” For this song, X brings out Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$. Keeping with that Brooklyn feel, the beat has a heavily New York influenced rap beat. The intro has zero context with the rest of the song, but is quite humorous with some rather vulgar jokes. The rest of the song is a warning to other rappers to not mess with either one of them. X, at the end, acknowledges that people only want to start problems with him for publicity. The chorus is a nod to both X and Joey’s hard lives with certain problems making them emotionally numb. This song is my favorite out of the whole album.
Up next is the song “going down!” In this song, X talks about trying not to get too attached to women.
The next piece on the album, “Pain = BESTFRIEND (feat. Travis Barker),” is one of the worst songs in my opinion. X tries to recreate one of his previous songs, “King,” by starting off nice and slow and then going full screamo. “King” was well produced, however, “Pain = BESTFRIEND” was lazily produced in my eyes. With an acoustic background followed by the sudden adding of drums does not mix well. The lyrics are okay, they are about his regret and telling himself not to cry because pain will always be his friend.
Following is, “$$$,” which is my second favorite on the album. This song is well produced, with a nice, standard beat. The featuring of Matt Ox does considerably well, given that he is only 13 years old. This song talks about both of them making considerable amounts of money. X also mentions he can pick up any girl, including your grandma, which is quite funny and, obviously, not literal.
The interlude, “love yourself,” comes next on the album. It consists of a recording of a call between X and a girl. He has a small verse in the song, warning her to not go with another man.
The twelfth song in the album is called “SMASH! (feat. PnB Rock).” The beat is something that you can totally relax and chill to. X brings back the theme of him being with girls and not getting too attached to them.
Up next is “I don’t even speak spanish lol (feat. Rio Santana, Judah & Carlos Andrez).” The title is rather comical due to the three Latino acts featured on the song. I personally did not like this song at all. A good portion of the song is in Spanish, so, if you aren’t a native or experienced with the Spanish language, you won’t understand most of the slang and innuendos. Most of the song is extremely sexual in nature, so listen to your discretion.
The next song in the album is called “changes.” The song brings a change in tone of the album and shifts it back to melancholy and heartbreak. It is a short song and only has a chorus and bridge. The chorus iterates how women change and leave you heart broken. X exclaims how he doesn’t understand why women change. The sad tone is nicely complemented by the piano background.
The following song, “Hope,” was originally released as a single and was then added to the album. X dedicated this song to all the people who had lost their lives to the Parkland shooting with all the money made from the song going to the families of the victims. X focuses this song on his personal misery and misery in the world around him. This is visible in the following line from the bridge, “so outside of my misery, I think I’ll find a way of envisioning a better life for the rest of us, the rest of us there’s hope for the rest of us, the rest of us.” This is another popular song from this album as well and one of my favorites.
The semi-final track is called “schizophrenia,” which has a very strong alternative metal tune. This song enfocuses X’s internal demons and depression. Yet, at the end of the song, he’s literally screaming to not give up.
Finally, after this long album, is the final track “before I close my eyes.” This song is about X wanting to repent for his sins and how he doesn’t want to change with time. It is a nice outro song with an acoustic guitar in the background.
Overall, ? was well received by fans and non-fans alike, placing it at #5 on the Billboard Top 100 Album Charts.