XX’s latest concept mixtape digs into his roots (heh), although it pales in comparison with some of his more recent work.
Track 1) “sad kid on the ave” [Middle 6/10]
This is certainly not XX/\/\E’s best introduction track of all time, but it serves its purpose and sets the tone of the mixtape on a positive note. This production XX chose here is possibly one of his most exuberant with playful synths and beautiful piano keys being played in the background.
XX’s lyrics are very blunt as usual, but he does demonstrate his more creative side. For a start, he successfully alternates between singing and rapping, and talks about “just riding”, in reference to the mystifying title of the track.
In terms of XX/\/\E’s flow and delivery, he is above average though this is certainly not his most impressive song of all time in terms of technical skill. Overall, “sad kid on the ave” is a relatable title track that is pretty easy to get into.
Track 2) “girl” [Middle 6/10]
“girl” is a bit of a different approach to storytelling from the previous track, with a much more atmospheric, introverted, and brooding instrumental. XX also shows improvement in the area of mixing & mastering, using a cool separating effect on his vocals to additionally contribute to the atmosphere.
However, this drowns out XX’s singing vocals a bit more, making them slightly difficult to listen to. On the other hand, it helps to express XX’s true emotions towards a girl that he’s had a rough experience with. His more slow-paced flow does so too.
Lyrically, XX is decent on here, depicting a tale of a girl that rejected him. Like the previous track, it is relatable and XX doesn’t beat around the bush. In short, this is a creative track that accurately reflects the subject matter XX chose.
Track 3) “this song sucks [but ilysm]” [Middle 5/10]
Compared to the two previous tracks, this one is a step down, though not by much. I guess my main problem here is that XX is completely inconsistent. He can’t even hold on to a single subject matter, and the mere fact that he uses his friends to make an outro skit completely contradicts his somber statements that he doesn’t have any friends, making it difficult to take him seriously.
The production was decent, but didn’t feature much charisma as it lacked a definitive drum pattern. However, the usage of sampling was pretty clever. XX does surprisingly flow pretty well over it, considering the fact that the beat is so sparse.
Lyrically, XX failed to captivate me and he spit nothing special, in my opinion. His delivery was pretty fresh, but could have been improved too. Overall, I’m just disappointed, as this doesn’t really compare to his previous project at all.
Track 4) “spacewave 2” [?/10]
I’m just going ahead and giving this track the same ranking as I gave on the previous “Spacewave”, just because I still can’t comprehend a single word that XX/\/\E is singing on this track. His filtering still sounds fresh though, and his harmonies get the job done.
On the contrary, I prefer the original “Spacewave” because at least it has a hard-hitting beat. While this one does have an eerie main synth, it doesn’t give me that raw power that the original one did. Overall, it is still a unique listen though.
Track 5) “…….Suburbs” [Low 5/10]
If I had to make one complaint about this track, it would be that it is downright not very exciting to listen to. It’s as simple as that. Neither of the beats catches my attention, and XX’s flow tends to get a bit lazy and uninspired on this track.
In terms of mixing and mastering, XX succeeded and failed at the same time. While he did add some suiting vocal effects to the adlibs on here, the vocals in general seemed a bit too quiet while compared to the beat, causing XX to get drowned out.
As I mentioned before, not even XX’s delivery and flow were particularly exciting here…they are just all too forgettable. Overall, even though this isn’t a bad track, but isn’t compelling and charismatic like the XX I normally like.
Track 6) “Shadows” feat. J Trauma [High 6/10]
Beats that feature classical samples are usually pretty rare, and I tend to enjoy them quite a bit. This is one of those times. I loved the sampling of the piano and violin, laced on top of a set of hard-hitting drums that are fairly easy to jam to.
Perhaps this is the first time ever where Trauma renegades XX. Flow-wise, he completely snaps, also packing a lot of punch with his complex rhyme schemes and haughty delivery. Lyrically, he is decent too, though I cringe at this punchline:
Trauma sicker than ebola
XX on the other hand, sounds less confident than ever, even biting Trauma’s signature flow. Lyrically, he drops some food for thought, but there also seemed to be quite a bit of filler. Delivery-wise, he does adjust his voice to the beat, and sounded pretty smooth.
Track 7) “Empty” [Low 8/10]
For a start, “Empty” has my absolute favorite beat on this project, produced by Flying Lotus (this happens to be on FlyLo’s latest album, Your’e Dead!) It has a gorgeous chord progression and haunting percussion and bass that brings out the full emotion of the track.
While XX’s singing is mediocre on here, he does compensate with his excellent melody and harmonies all mix and mastered at perfect volumes. He also brings out his creativity here, and his melody here is so unique that it is hard to predict what will come next.
Lyrically, XX sings a relatable tune about letting go of an old friend who has changed for the worst. He sounds sincere and passionate on “Empty”, making it realistic and beautiful. Overall, this is an excellent effort and a standout track on the mixtape.
Track 8) “GoAWAY” [Low 4/10]
After the abstract and emotional track prior to this, XX took a complete 180 turn, and possibly put out the poppiest track he has ever made. With its insincere, simple lyrics and bland production, I would expect to hear a song like this on Radio Disney.
It also sounds like XX/\/\E was trying to autotune his vocals so that it wasn’t very noticeable, but he failed miserably. I started dying of laughter when he started adlibbing in a British accent. I can appreciate him stepping out of his comfort zone, but XX did so in one of the worst ways possible.
Track 9) “nostalgiaa” feat. GHO$T CHRONIKK [Low 7/10]
Both rappers delivered morose yet relatable verses on this track, perhaps delivering some of the most heartfelt verses on the entire mixtape. They also sounded great over the intricate production from one of my favorite underground producers, Greaf.
XX/\/\E did have the superior verse here, as his relatability and sincerity are extremely well represented on this track. He also provides me with a good flow and delivery, making the verse very compelling and emotional. This is the XX I like.
Though I didn’t like his verse at first, I have come to realize that this is the best that GHO$T has ever sounded. He does spit some very relatable lyrics, even though he needs to work on his singing. His flow isn’t half-bad either here.
Track 10) “Miracle Grow” [Middle 6/10]
As the first of the two of XX’s self-produced tracks on this tape, “Miracle Grow” has its pros and cons. For a start, this is perhaps one of the most creative and conceptual tracks on the project, continuing the extended metaphor of gardens begun in the title.
I can also appreciate XX’s sense of self-artistry even though he may not be the most talented producer on this planet. His usage of sampling is pretty cool, but the production of this track lacks a drum pattern, making it a bit drab and bland.
XX lyrically spit some emotional bars that I can sympathize for, but his flow and delivery didn’t seem very well thought-out, even though both were above average. XX certainly deserves props though, as this beat was probably quite difficult to rap over.
Track 11) “Appertment214” [Low 9/10]
This is easily the best beat XX has ever made…hands down. It fits perfectly as an instrumental interlude, and XX hopping off of the mic to boast his producing skills was a smart move. For a start, it is very atmospheric and trippy, reflecting the thoughts oscillating in XX’s brain.
The flipping of the sample here is downright genius. He distorts the vocals and pianos to make them sound distant and hopeless, perhaps an artistic interpretation on XX’s personal feelings. Speeding up and slowing down the sample was an ambitious move, but it paid off.
I think what I love the most about this track is the sheer beauty of its vibe, and how XX managed to catch me off guard in the best way possible. It truly shows that he is developing as a producer, and its experimental nature is genius.
Track 12) “Where r u?” feat. LOADiee [High 5/10]
I have an extensive set of mixed feelings about this track. XX kicks of this three-part love ballad with a cringe-worthy sing-song verse, asking his girl where she has been in a whiny singing voice. The first part of the beat wasn’t anything special either, and failed to impress me.
However, when the beat switches up, things begin to get a lot better. XX delivers another solid verse about his love life, dropping relatable bars right and left. His basic flow gets the job done, and leaves room for his passionate delivery to shine bright like a diamond.
The real surprise here, however, is LOADiee. Forget what I said on the Trauma review: this is by far the best LOADiee has ever sounded. Even though he started to get cringeworthy and off-topic in the middle of his verse (talking about masturbating), he passionately sung his vocals through a distorted filter, deliberately masking himself from the rest of the world.
Track 13) “https://tfw.com/noGF//” [Low 7/10]
Track 13) “https://tfw.com/noGF//” [Low 7/10]
As one of the more heartfelt tracks on the tape, “https://tfw.com/noGF//” is a love song done right. XX features a lot of personality, rapping about a hopeless crush, and how he wishes to “be her man”, and “dance with her”. XX is as sincere and honest as ever here.
From a technical standpoint, XX is solid on all fronts. His flow sounds fresh as does his delivery. The intro to this song was gorgeous, and the production throughout suited the subject matter of the song, and complimented XX’s unique voice.
Track 14) “wit it (wilted)” [Low 8/10]
This 47 second nugget is the epitome of XX’s “short-&-sweet” tracks that usually pop up on his longer projects. For a start, the production sounded vintage and cheerful, and had a smooth drum pattern even though it isn’t a “banger”.
Flow-wise, this is possibly the best XX sounds on the entire mixtape. He conforms to the beat, and times his words precisely, showing a decent amount of effort. His delivery sounds legit on this track too, as he is confident and comfortable over the production.
To top it off, I loved XX’s verses and creativity, using a garden as an extended metaphor for his life. He cleverly weaves this metaphor into his bars throughout the whole verse, making them captivating and unique. If only XX spit this well on the rest of the tape.
Track 15) “flowers” [High 7/10]
Here it is: the grand finale. XX successfully concludes this tape by reflecting on its themes and tying the lose strings of his extended metaphor together. He best does so in the catchy hook, which is also creative and clever.
In terms of production, this beat is a bit more face-paced featuring a rolling kick, snare, and hi-hat pattern that appears well-constructed. This along with XX’s delivery assist in building tension throughout the track, making it a story in itself.
Flow-wise and lyrically, XX is on point too. He spits some relatable bars that are very cohesive and natural, yet dabble in all of the subject matters expressed on the project at the same time. Overall, XX once again ends the album on a high note and leaves me in anticipation for his next project.
3) “wit it (wilted)”
Although this is the shortest track on the album, it is one of the most enthralling with its extended metaphor, fast-paced flow, and chill production. XX delivers his verses with ease, and spits bars that you will likely connect with as you listen to them.
“Empty” has the best beat on the tape, and deserves to be among the list of XX’s best all-singing songs of all time. It is kooky and creative, yet hauntingly beautiful as XX shows that he has a knack for songwriting as well as developing melodies and harmonies.
Although this is an instrumental interlude, I’m including it on the list due to the fact that XX produces this concept beat himself. It is gorgeous and atmospheric, and XX flips his sample in a fantastic manner. It is on the shorter side, but XX gets his point across well.
That is all! Stay tuned for more true music reviews!
J Trauma is a New York rapper who dropped a series of mixtapes last year. VIRTUAL CHRIST is his first of 2015, and probably my favorite yet, as Trauma sounds confident with his new mic and a set of hard-hitting beats. However, my biggest issue with Trauma is as apparent as ever on this project. Let’s get into it.
Track 1) “Gameboy Advance SP” [Low 8/10]
Right off the bat, Trauma manages to impress me. I’m only one track in, and I have already discovered a song that is superior to almost all of Trauma’s previous mixtape. I love the sound of his new mic, and two-voice affect. It brings out Trauma’s emotion and passion.
Let’s also take a minute to talk about the concept behind the song. Not only is Trauma using the Gameboy to contrast his past to his future, but it is also used as a metaphor for his current life. He concludes the song with a clever and memorable lyric:
Walking down the road, trying to find more than the pathways
The production features a gloomy guitar riff (likely sampled), heavy, side-chained kicks, and some lighter snares and hi-hats. It even boasts a video game sample, adding on to the concept of the song. Lyrically, Trauma continues to prove to me that he has a natural gift for storytelling,
Track 2) “Incognito” [Low 6/10]
Although it still has its very noticeable flaws, “Incognito” is possibly the closest Trauma has gotten in terms of making a good sex song. He certainly toned down the corny punchlines and sexual imagery, and focused more on praising his girl instead, a smart move.
The production felt a bit too watery for me, but still well-planned and somewhat enjoyable to listen to. However, the part of this song that has me back laughing is Trauma’s infamous deep voice, which never manages to make me question his artistic goals for his projects.
Flow-wise, Trauma does his thing, and doesn’t seem to be lacking. However, I do feel as if he began to get a bit off-topic as the song began to come to a close. In short, this song isn’t bad, but could’ve been a lot better with some minor tweaks.
Track 3) “Out Of It” feat. Odd Pike [Low 6/10]
For those who do not know, guest features were my biggest issue with Trauma’s previous mixtape, Isolated, so I was interested to see how this new guest feature played out. I was hoping for the best, but my worst suspicions came true: Odd Pike delivered a laughable verse.
If Trauma was a lone on this track, this track would easily at least be ranked a 7/10 if not an 8. I really enjoyed how he begins his verse with some vivid self-imagery, much like on the title track on his previous tape. His flow and delivery were also on point here.
However, Odd Pike almost completely ruined this track for me. He couldn’t even keep a single subject matter for the whole verse, and dropped cringe-worthy bar after bar. His microphone quality was awful, and his vocals were mixed with too much reverb.
Track 4) “Tap Water” [Middle 7/10]
I actually mixed and mastered the original demo of this song, though Trauma decided to use his own mix for this track (even though I prefer my mix). However, he still provides an enjoyable listen. The production uses the same sample as Mick Jenkin’s “Vibe”, but in a much more dark and grimy way. I also really enjoy the hard-hitting trap drum pattern.
Flow-wise, this may be one of my favorite tracks on the album. Here, Trauma’s flow is a wavy anomaly that makes the very rigid beat sound a bit more emotional. He calls out more stereotypes here and dabbles in topics about staying young, giving me a glimpse of his true character.
His two-voice delivery sounds great too here, though his vocals sound a bit quiet compared to beat. It’s still a satisfactory listen overall. His incorporation of the title into the hook was clever (and it appears to fit right in with the sample too).
Track 5) “Lightningbolt” [Middle 6/10]
This electrifying track is composed of two distinct sections, one clearly better than the other. In the first section, Trauma is ambitious with a strange, wavy vocal effect, but fails miserably and sounds automated and painful. His flow in that section is very off-beat too.
However, the second part of this track is the Trauma I like. Over this ethereal beat, he spits some clever bars, even referencing the Greek god Hades. His flow and delivery a bit underwhelming here also, but Trauma still manages to captivate me in the second half of this track.
Track 6) “Splinterlude” [Low 5/10]
Though this interlude isn’t necessarily bad, it just comes off as forgettable and slightly unnecessary. Trauma’s delivery is a lot weaker than usual here, and the underwhelming guitar-sampled beat simply doesn’t enthrall me into replaying the track.
Not even Trauma’s lyrics or flow are particularly impressive here. Their lack of substance are resistant of Trauma’s older projects, and Trauma sounds like he isn’t even passionate about rapping this song with an emotionless flow and delivery.
Track 7) “funney funney LOL” [Middle 8/10]
God damn…Trauma truly snaps off on this track. This has to be the most passionate and aggressive I have ever heard from him (which is especially refreshing after listening to the previous track). When the beat, initially dropped, I was blown away. Speaking of the production, it was pretty smooth with hard-hitting drums and a beautiful vocal sample.
Flow-wise, Trauma is aggressive too. His lyrics may not be the most substantial, but do fit with the subject matter very well and Trauma accurately portrays his more arrogant side. All in all, this is an excellent listen, and Trauma’s sounding as professional as ever.
Track 8) “My Dawn Is Dusk” [High 6/10]
“My Dawn Is Dusk” is a clever juxtaposition as far as they go, but Trauma failed to weave the title into the song, and more noticeably the production. Although I enjoyed the productions rapid pace and hard-hitting drums, the main synth is too exuberant for a song like this.
Trauma on the other hand, kills his verse. He doesn’t really step out of his comfort zone in terms of his lyricism or subject matter, but demonstrates his knack for songwriting and rhyming. His flow, as usual, is very versatile and smooth to listen to.
Where I can certainly commemorate Trauma is in his delivery, as he steps up his double voice to the next level. He contrasts a pitched up voice with a pitched down voice, surprisingly very satisfactory and seems to incorporate the title better than any other aspect of the song.
Track 9) “The End” feat. Loucid [Low 6/10]
Surprisingly (and thankfully), this is Trauma’s first “swage” track on this entire mixtape, and actually manages to come off as captivating by selecting a compelling beat and delivering an irresistibly catchy hook. I liked the beat’s tense guitar lead and crisp snares.
Perhaps Trauma delivered a couple of ridiculous brags, but his verse has fantastic entertainment value, and is a pleasurable listen. Flow-wise, he conforms to the fast-paced instrumental, and sounds perfectly confident and comfortable as he claims he is going to fuck your bitch.
Based off of the previous unknown feature, I wasn’t all that hyped for Loucid’s verse, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although he was decent at best, Loucid’s deep voice enthralls me, and he had a decent flow up in here. Lyrically, he was a bit inconsistent though.
Track 10) “Gungir” feat. LOADiee & XX/\/\E [Middle 5/10]
If we are being completely honest here, the result of this track was pretty damn predictable. I knew going into it that XX would renegade and LOADiee would bomb his verse. My predictions came true, even though Trauma sounds a bit weaker than normal here.
The production’s main synth seemed very week and loose, though the drums were smooth. Trauma comes off as a bit more monotonous than normal here, and his flow doesn’t seem as crisp nor thought out here. He still delivered a decent verse lyrically though.
The real star of the show here is clearly XX/\/\E. It is obvious through his delivery that he is calling out the fakes who make fun of him satirically, due to his hilarious delivery and extremely braggadocious lyrics. He also has the best flow on the track, and his singing was pretty smooth.
This may be the best LOADiee verse I have ever listened to (though it is still awful). His microphone quality is worse than my laptop microphone with a pile of shit on it. His lyrics are laughable, but one stands out as being particularly ironic:
2015 and I found my own flow
As he raps these exact lyrics, he begins to bite Trauma’s standard triplet flow very blatantly, just making me internally cringe. As to be expected his delivery and flow were awful too. When is Trauma going to learn his lesson…LOADiee is a terrible rapper.
Track 11) “No” feat. GHO$T CHRONIKK [Middle 4/10]
Except for Trauma’s flow, this song is very forgettable, and it is starting to get hard for me to fully pay attention as we reach the end of the mixtape. The beat is incredibly repetitive, and starts to get on my nerves after multiple listens.
Once again, we get a very loose and played-out subject matter here, and Trauma isn’t even the slightest bit coherent on this track. Despite having an excellent flow, his lyrics and delivery are decent at best, and doesn’t really stand out to me.
However, the real issue with this track is once again the guest feature. GHO$T has been featured on numerous Trauma and XX/\/\E tracks lately, and I have yet to find a verse that I liked from him. His fake gangsta persona was hilarious and puts Rick Ross to shame. I died of laughter at this:
Imma thug, imma g
Track 12) “Ligeia” feat. Pistol Phantom [Middle 6/10]
Here we go…now the mixtape seems to be picking itself back up. This is easily the most ambient and chill instrumental on this entire tape, as it features a very sparse drum pattern and a wavy main synth. Trauma delivers a decent hook, comparing himself to famous writers.
Where Trauma really impresses me here was in his rhyme schemes…this is quite possibly Trauma’s best song ever rhyme-scheme wise. He uses a fast-paced flow to fit in all of the rhymes, making it even more charismatic. Pair that up with his double-voice, and we have an enjoyable verse.
Pistol Phantom is actually pretty nice too. Perhaps his verse utilizes an excess of reverb, but he spit some relatable bars and knows how to construct a basic flow. He needs to improve on his delivery, but still is a hell of a lot better than some of these other guest features.
Track 13) “Crucified” [Low 8/10]
Trauma once again demonstrates that he understands the concept of ending his tape on a high note. This is easily my favorite beat on the album, with its hauntingly beautiful vocal sample and syrupy drums, building up a vivid atmosphere.
It is also pretty apparent to me that Trauma seems very passionate here in his delivery, removing the mask he has been putting on with the double voice. His raw emotion is enough for me to love it, and his flow is pretty nice too.
Lyrically, Trauma dabbles in a few topics (in a good way), discussing his life as a teenager and a rapper. However, the one lyric that stood out to me the most was the final lyric, a common pattern Trauma has with his music:
I’m not a virgin ‘cuz life came and raped me
Here are my favorite tracks on the mixtape.
3) “Gameboy Advance SP”
This creative concept song certain begins the mixtape nicely. Although it is extremely short, Trauma utilizes this time period to carefully craft his words into an emotional song about his future and past. The production is pretty smooth too.
For a start, “Crucified” contains my absolute favorite beat on the entire tape, produced by Greaf. Trauma also sounds very sincere and passionate here, and spits some of the most socially conscious and intriguing lyrics on the entire tape.
1) “funney funney LOL”
Trauma’s extreme aggression along with this banger of a beat is what makes it my favorite on the album. Trauma sounded like an entirely different person here…almost godly as he assumed the position of a critic of others. It is an excellent work overall.
- Although some were pretty good, the guest features still dragged down this tape quite a bit. Trauma still prefers to have friends over good guest features on here, even though some consistently drop bad verses (I’m looking at your LOADiee).
- Even though Trauma is certainly improving in this front, I still think this mixtape isn’t versatile. He does tend to re-use the same subject matter over and over again, which makes it a tedious listen.
- Trauma’s production is actually a lot better here than in previous projects in terms of professionalism, but some of them lacked a sonically pleasing melody.
That is all. Stay tuned for more true music reviews!
For those who do not know, Bowtye is an American singer and producer who recent released a single titled “Morning Wood”. This song was recommended to me by friend, and I decided to give it a chance. While it does have its noticeable flaws, I still enjoyed this song.
For a start, I give Bowtye mad props to putting out a self-produced track. I realize that self-producing isn’t too rare, but it always shows me that the artist likes to keep things personal, and put in extra effort to make the track dope. The beat was suiting to the track, with hard-hitting drums and a distant sounding lead that fascinates me as a listener.
My favorite part of this track is probably Bowtye’s voice, which sounds very well-developed. He also proved to me that he can come up with a solid melody, even though he tends to get repetitive after a while. The concept of the track is pretty cool too…he describes a foreign love (and this track happened to be released on Valentine’s Day).
The only big issue I have with the track is the mixing and mastering. The drum pattern drowns out the melody and vocals, making Bowtye difficult to comprehend. As I previously mentioned, he did sing the same refrain over and over, making the track tedious to listen to.
In conclusion, Bowtye proved to me that he is a talented singer, songwriter, and producer, though he still has his noticeable flaws. However, I am intrigued to listen to any solo project he has, as the potential here is extraordinary.