Album Review – Skins by XXXTENTACION
Almost 6 months after the Florida rapper was shot dead in his car, XXXTENTACION’s label decided that they would carry on his legacy and release his 3rd studio album named ‘SKINS’.
With ‘SKINS’ being a 10-song album reaching 19 minutes in length, a lot of people were speculating that maybe X didn’t get the chance to finish the album however, X fans are used to songs and albums being shorter than usual because his earlier albums only featured a few songs and they are not the usual length.
Since his death, X’s mother Cleopatra has taken over his social medias and she released the track list on his Instagram 4 days before the release which was 7th December 2018. Many fans knew there was more music to be released and this created a lot of excitement.
1. Introduction (0:31)
2. Guardian angel (1:48)
3. Train food (2:44)
4. whoa (mind in awe) (2:38)
5. BAD! (1:34)
6. STARING AT THE SKY (1:25)
7. One Minute (feat, Kanye West & Travis Barker) (3:18)
8. Difference (interlude) (1:17)
9. I don’t let go (2:02)
10. what are you so afraid of (2:31)
On every XXXTENTACION studio album, there has been an introduction to the album. These songs give him the chance to tell you what this album means to him and he can ask you to be open minded. This introduction had a rather different feel to it because rather than it being X himself talking to you, it was computerised and mechanic. This led a lot of people to believe that he didn’t get the chance to record an introduction but John Cunningham who produced the album has stated that its how he wanted and that he managed to create it before he was gone.
Guardian angel – 8/10
The second track on XXXTENTACION’s first posthumous album finds the late rapper discussing heartbreak and the toll that it took on him. His troublesome upbringing resulted in a vicious cycle of pain and anger, but he ultimately apologizes for harming those around him. This track had a very familiar and noticeable sample, because it is Jocelyn Flores reversed from X’s album 17.
Train food – 10/10
On “Train food,” XXXTENTACION discusses death’s inescapability. The song’s minimalistic and eerie production features a jarring piano accompanied by the sounds of a train and thunder.
X details a hypothetical first-person narrative about an encounter with the personification of Death. The narrator takes a different route than usual and is kidnapped by Death. They wake up tied to train tracks and deliver an emotional monologue, reflecting on their life and imagining what could have been in their future. The individual eventually wonders if they are going to heaven or hell, but they are ultimately killed before an answer is revealed.
Based on its lyrical content, “Train food” appears to represent the opposing viewpoint of X’s infamous XXL Freshmen Cypher. In that verse, X raps from the perspective of the devil, detailing a murderous plot that involves stalking and kidnapping. Many of the lyrics in that verse directly correspond to lyrics in this song. This track is also both sonically and thematically reminiscent of 2016’s “I spoke to the devil in Miami, he said everything would be fine.”
The original lyric X had was actually “I should’ve run right fucking there, a poor fucking decision.” But right after we recorded that line he paused for a moment, said to cut it off right after the word “there,” and then we found a sound effect of someone getting punched. – John Cunningham.
whoa (mind in awe) – 10/10
On “whoa (mind in awe),” X talks about providing for his family, his troubled past, and how he used to tell his mother that someday he would make it.
X also sings a chorus similar to the bridge of “NUMB,” which was on his second studio album, ?
To many people, this song feels very unfinished and as though if given more time, X would have possibly recorded another verse or two.
BAD! – 6/10
“BAD!” is the lead single off of XXXTENTACION’s first posthumous album, skins. It was originally a snippet that X released (and later deleted) through his Instagram on May 18, 2018 with the “” emoji. On 11th April 2018, X’s producer, John Cunningham, confirmed on his Instagram via a story that this track would be the leading single from the album.
“BAD!” shows X asking for love from a woman and complimenting her looks, as “bad” describes a lady that is sexy.
On November 7, it was announced by X’s mother Cleo on Instagram that the song would be released on November 9.
Many people were shocked to see that this song was only going to be 1:34 in length and this caused some outrage and people started saying that it shouldn’t be released due to it being unfinished. Cleo later disproved this rumour of it being unfinished by releasing a small voice clip of X saying he only wants the song to be a minute long and the album is going to be very short.
STARING AT THE SKY – 7/10
On “STARING AT THE SKY,” X reflects on the pain he has endured and how he aimlessly approached life at times.
Aside from the interlude, this is the album’s shortest song.
We’re gonna break
We’re gonna break
We’re gonna break
We’re gonna break
“If you listen closely you can hear him yelling this line, but also whispering it in a very muted breathy tone as though he’s lost his voice. We layered both vocals together to get both of those feelings across” – John Cunningham
One Minute (feat, Kanye West & Travis Barker) – 7/10
“One Minute” is a collaboration between XXXTENTACION, Kanye West, and Travis Barker. Kanye provides an extensive verse while X simply handles the chorus and an interlude. Barker plays drums on the song.
In his verse, Kanye discusses a plethora of relevant topics, including hatred, envy, acceptance, death, and guilt.
X first posted a snippet of this song on June 14, 2018, only four days before his murder. Kanye’s verse on the song was leaked online on November 23, 2018, but it was subsequently removed from the internet because of copyright infringement. The song was eventually leaked in its entirety on December 4, 2018, along with the rest of the album.
Difference (interlude) – 8/10
On an Instagram livestream, John said that this song is a voice memo which would explain to a lot of people why it isn’t quite the same quality recording as the other songs however, X liked to give his interludes more of an authentic feel as heard in the ‘Love Yourself (interlude)’ on ? and the ‘Dead Inside (interlude)’ on 17.
Ooh-ohh, ooh-oh, ooh-oh, ooh-oh
Ooh-ohh-oh, ooh-oh, ooh-oh, ooh-oh
Ooh-ohh-oh, ooh-oh, ooh-oh, ooh-oh-oh
Ooh-ohh-oh, ooh-oh, ooh-oh, ooh-oh-oh
This recording is actually a completely unaltered voice memo that we recorded in his studio. You can hear Jah’s snapping and his chair squeaking, Robbie who was engineering clicking on the computer in the background, and the sound of me moving my phone at the end to stop the recording. – John Cunningham
Just checked the voice memo we did it on May 18 – John Cunningham. This was just one month before the rapper’s death.
On “difference (interlude),” X is pleading to a woman in his life, discussing the things he wants to eventually provide for her. However, their relationship has limitations because of their distance from each other.
I don’t let go – 9/10
On “I don’t let go,” XXXTENTACION tells the listener that he does not let go of himself because he knows he has others to live for. The up-tempo track makes several references to women and sexual interactions, and X utilizes several flows over the song’s two verses.
As Cunningham discussed on Reddit, CuBeatz sent a melodic loop to a number of artists, and Rich was the first to release a song using it. After “Bring It Back” was released, X decided that he still wanted to keep “I don’t let go.”
“Hey so the way I don’t Let go happened was producers named Cubeatz sent me a loop, i played it for jah, and he loved it and so we started making the song. After we were done we saw that rich used the same loop too, so I contacted Cubeatz who apologized for accidentally sending it to more people than just me. Jah decided to go ahead with the song as is rather than changing it.” – John Cunningham, via Reddit
what are you so afraid of - 9/10
“what are you so afraid of” is the final track from XXXTENTACION’s first posthumous album, SKINS.
X questions the listener’s love choices and fears repeatedly as he may have believed love is a waste of time.
X had dealt with heartbreak before with his ex-girlfriend, Geneva Ayala, who he started dating in 2014. After two years and multiple domestic violence claims from her, the couple broke up, causing X to feel broken. He wrote the song “Ayala (Outro)” about her on 17 expressing how he was hurt by her and regretted being with her. “before I close my eyes” has a similar guitar tone.
Overall, I would give this album an 8/10 because what is there is great however I do feel as though there may be some missing parts.