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!