XXXTentacion‘s untimely death this year was one of hip-hop’s biggest losses, and even though it sparked a debate about his character, it was undeniable that the world had lost an artist who had used his music to help find his way through life. X is long from being forgotten, though, especially if his latest posthumous release has anything to say about it. XXXTentacion’s SKINS is a testament to his life, giving one more glimpse at the tortured soul behind the music.
While a good representation of his career, SKINS doesn’t even clock in at 20 minutes, so there isn’t a great deal to be said about it. It makes the most of what time it does have, though: opening track ‘Introduction‘ opens the record ominously before ‘Guardian angel‘ kicks in with an immediately real and powerful start, the song being composed of reversed samples from his prior ‘Jocelyn Flores.’ Less overbearing tracks - like single ‘BAD!‘ - show a bleaker and more honest look into XXX’s character, the quieter tracks being where he opens up. The dramatic train continues with an Eminem-like deliver in ‘Train food,’ while things continue to get aggressive and angry with the distorted guitars and screams of ‘STARING AT THE SKY’ - something you really don’t see artists like XXXTentacion dabbling with. More of this metal experimentation continues in Kanye West collaboration ‘One Minute,’ where West’s existential verse rolls above the heavy riff and pounding drums. Closing track ‘what are you so afraid of‘ strips away the distortion for a chill, if not bittersweet ending, X' returning to his softer singing delivery, the song filled only with quiet “woahs” and an emotional chorus: “What are you so afraid of? Is it love or wasting your time?“
XXXTentacion’s SKINS is a testament to his life, showing the expansive experimentation and innovation present within his discography while also showing that there was indeed a tortured soul behind a problematic artist. Say what you will about his person, but his music definitely helped shaped modern hip-hop and helped others find their way through life.
Favorite Tracks: what are you so afraid of, STARING AT THE SKY, One Minute
Least Favorite Track: BAD!
Rating: 76 / 100
Stream or buy SKINS on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: