Release Date: Dec 7, 2018
Record label: Empire
Genre(s): Rap, Southern Rap, Alternative Rap, Contemporary Rap
A gift to fans (or quick cash grab, depending how one views it), Skins exists primarily for loyal XXXTentacion devotees. Clocking in at less than 20 minutes, this posthumous collection offers a jumble of ideas, fleeting emotions, and stream-of-conscious freestyles, centered around the swirling darkness within the late rapper. Wading through inessential blips such as "Introduction" or "difference (interlude)" (here just for the truly dedicated), there are a handful of worthwhile nuggets on which to focus.
At the center of the Jahseh Onfroy story is his domestic violence case, which was never tried but, after his death, is now closed. Before he was shot and killed in an attempted robbery earlier this year, the 20-year-old rapper known as XXXTentacion was accused of physically and mentally abusing his then-girlfriend, terrorizing her, and holding her against her will. He faced charges that included aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, and witness-tampering.
Pop music loves a martyr. Just six months after the murder of 20-year-old emo rapper XXXTentacion, né Jahseh Onfroy, a posthumous album--the first of several, according to his former collaborator DJ Scheme--has already been released. That Skins is apparently not the last we’ll hear from XXXTentacion doesn’t bode well for those future releases, as many of the album’s nine songs feel unfinished, with only half managing to crack the two-minute mark.
E ver since the day in May 1958 when Jerry Lee Lewis fetched up for a British tour in the company of a 13-year-old girl who turned out to be his wife, rock and pop music has offered fans ample opportunity to consider the wisdom or otherwise of separating the art from the artist. Music's history comes liberally sprinkled with paedophiles, murderers, racists, domestic abusers, homophobes and violent criminals, among them some figures of pivotal artistic importance. The question of how the listener deals with their personal lives hangs heavy.