At first, I thought it was just happenstance. Like, I’d dropped some new stuff, someone who liked X peeped it, and that was that. But, as time has gone on, I’ve started to get DMs and messages from people who have listened to X and like some of the stuff I put out. Perhaps, it was the mental health talkspace X and I both reside in. On top of that, Raquel made mention that “Lucid Dreams” sounded like something I could’ve written (that’s another story entirely).
Whatever the case was, I began wrestling with the idea of reviewing ?. I mean, on one hand, XXXTentacion was allegedly a not-so-great person. On the other, the kid was kind of brilliant with his genre-blending and seemingly invention of this whole new sound (by incorporating older sounds/energies). Ultimately, I gave into my curiosity and played the album from start to finish, having only originally heard (and liked) the track he did with Joey Bada$$. By reviewing ?, I’m not condoning X’s lifestyle (or alleged lifestyle). I’m approaching this as a music critic and a purveyor of music in all its forms.
Like the artist, ? is somewhat of a polarizing album. Even with that polarizing factor, it’s a damn good listen, given that it could’ve gone left into incredibly self-indulgent material really quickly. No one walking the surface of the Earth is exempt from messing up, whether big or small. However, it’s what we do from those mess-ups and flaws that can make us a better person. X doesn’t get that chance in full, as he was gunned down before 21. Nevertheless, ? was a valid attempt to try to walk a better path, acknowledge demons, and give fans and new listeners alike an open window into what it meant to be XXXTentacion as an artist and as the man behind the aura.