When someone is willing to dig into their darkest moments and bring them out for others to find peace with, true art is made. XXXTentacion channels his deepest thoughts in 17, his debut album with a haunting account of depression from his eyes.
17 is a risky album from a lot of directions. It's not something that'd rise be easily swallowed in a world were autotuned, monotonous trap rap reigns supreme. It's heavy messages are also something that really has to hit the right crowd. XXXTentacion opens the record with 'The Explanation,' which is quite literally an explanation of what this album is. He lays everything out there, saying that this album is for those who will understand and that he hopes it'll help ease others' pain. It leads into opening track 'Jocelyn Flores,' immediately bringing the record's content to a dark start. The beat is run down and almost tangibly depressed, XXX rapping about a friend who committed suicide, tragically crying out "I know you're somewhere" throughout the track.
Everything about 17 comes from XXXTentacion's heart. You can feel the fear and the pain in his words, the instrumentals all sounding beaten down and sluggish as if to imitate a heaviness weighing them down. Even the tracks that seem misguidedly poppy, like 'Fuck Love' with Trippie Redd, say a lot. In the case of 'Fuck Love,' even if the song's main lyric is repeated over and over, there's still a lot of sorrow in "Please don't throw your love away." Love goes hand-in-hand with depression, sometimes being the cure and other times being the cause. XXXTentacion battles both scenarios throughout 17, wishing for a past love and time to return in the beautifully composed 'Depression & Obsession' depressedly singing of how a betrayed love destroyed him from the inside out on 'Dead Inside.'
The beauty of 17 is not the fact that it's an album that captures one man's depression. It's that it captures the very essence of feeling that way. What makes every song so powerful is not the fact that they intrinsically try to be sad and slow, but that those aspects of the song build the tracks to feel heavy. They're weighed down by the emotions, not by purpose. The powerful, resonating piano of 'Orlando' will resonate through you and you'll feel the strength of emotion in every wavering chord, and the brilliant harmonies and rustic vibe of 'Revenge' will do the same. In the end, the entire album can really find its center in 'Save Me,' the beautiful track that simply cries out for help in the heaviness that swallows it whole.
XXXTantacion channels his deepest thoughts in 17, powerfully channeling every aspect of his pain into his art. It's not an album about being sad. It's an album about feeling heavy and what it's like to be weighed down by all these problems that build up to create depression. It's for those who will understand it and perhaps find comfort in it. Every voice needs a guiding light, and this could very well be the eye opener for many.
Favorite Tracks: Save Me, Orlando, Jocelyn Flores, Dead Inside, Revenge
Least Favorite Track: Fuck Love
Rating: 88 / 100
Stream or buy 17 on Apple Music: