Back in September, New Jersey based rapper XX/\/\E released a whopping 40-track mixtape titled ) Miles . Here is my review of the second half.
Track 21) “Tomorrow” feat. holyBLASKOtheknownONE [5/10]
Here we go! The second half! After one of the most depressing and somber tracks on the mixtape, “Tomorrow” is one of the most cheerful and positive tracks on the project. Since holyBLASKOtheknownONE’s name is so god damn long, I’m just going to refer to him as “Holy”.
Perhaps Holy’s lyrical content isn’t the deepest on the mixtape, but it gets the job done and lets the other aspects of his verse shine. His flow is intricate and well thought-out, and you can’t deny the pure awesomeness of his accent. It shines most on the catchy hook on which Holy sings about how “you’ll be here tomorrow”, reassuring not only the audience, but XX/\/\E himself.
On the flip side, XX/\/\E delivers some of the weakest verses on the entire mixtape. With a lack of an exciting delivery and a lazy flow, XX seems to be dulling the audience instead of cheering them up like Holy did. His lyrics weren’t too bad though.
Track 22) “Here” [5/10]
As Miles begins to gain momentum, XX delivers one of his most ambitious tracks on the mixtape flow-wise, starting off very fast. He pulls it off for the most part, but sounds a bit amateur at times. I still thought it was a very solid track flow-wise though.
In terms of production, the beat captivates me as it has electronic synths that you don’t typically find in a Ghost McGrady beat. Lyrically, this was about average…some struck me as thought-provoking, but for the majority of the verse, XX basically rapped about, simply put, rapping. A bit of an improvement though.
Track 23) “Still Chill” [8/10]
Perhaps it may be a bit of a lesser version of the track “Summertime!” that I loved so dearly on the first half of the mixtape, but “Still Chill” still displays XX’s artistry very well. For a start, I thought the production on this track was great, from the bass, to the electronic synths pulsing throughout the song, to the sparse, fast-paced drum pattern.
Flow-wise, XX kills it. He must use at least four different flows on the same track, switching it from fast to slow with lots of ease. It helps to depict the different aspects of the song, and helps the two-minute masterpiece stay charismatic throughout. Even though XX’s delivery isn’t great, it gets the job done.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of this is the mixing and mastering, as there were parts where XX had up to four different voices at once, and I absolutely adored the part when it toned down for a brief moment. Lyrically, this was dope. It reflected different aspects of the mixtape, but mainly, it introduced the sub-plot of the second half, the one about XX’s girl.
Track 24) “PyraMidz” [7/10]
XX/\/\E spits some of his better verses on the mixtape on “PyraMidz”, with vivid imagery laced within its lyrics (such as “skin made of porcelain”). I also liked the rhyme schemes quite a bit. Flow-wise, XX completely snapped and delivered one of the best flows on the mixtape.
I also quite enjoyed the beat on this track from its pulsing bassline, to the unexpected drop, to the distorted hi-hats that gave the beat a psychedelic vibe. Perhaps it didn’t have the most original subject matter, but XX managed to clean up his act and drop a dope track. Props to him for doing so.
Track 25) “Armour” feat. RatedRAZ [6/10]
Almost every aspect on this track screams “decent” to me, which obviously isn’t a bad thing, because it means that almost every detail on this was above average, but it didn’t stand out as being great. It had a somewhat unique concept though with the water samples laced within the beat adding to the atmosphere.
The vocal sample seemed a bit overpowering, but played its purpose in the beat. The drum pattern wasn’t great, but did enough to keep me interested throughout the song. The weakest aspect of this track was easily the delivery, which came off as monotone at times: never a good sign in hip-hop.
XX’s verses were pretty dope…perhaps this isn’t the most lyrical track on the mixtape, but XX does his thing and brings a good flow to the table. I did like the subject matter quite a bit. In terms of the guest feature, RatedRAZ sang very well, but it was covered up by an unnecessary filter. I give the two artists props for being ambitious, but perhaps this risk didn’t pay off.
Track 26) “Get At Me” [2/10]
Easily the worst track on the entire mixtape, “Get At Me” underwhelmed me greatly. This is perhaps my least favorite beat on the entire project with a corny melody (is it sampled?) and a very amateur-sounding drum pattern. It reflects XX’s part of the song though, which isn’t a good thing.
Lyrically, this just didn’t stand out as being impressive or even above average whatsoever; XX’s subject matter was a bit vague on this track. He used an underwhelming three-some, but at least the delivery on this track was somewhat gritty at times, perhaps a bit better than average.
However, none of these aspects compared to the very cringe worthy singing from XX. He randomly jumped octaves, sung in a strained voice, and wrote lyrics that simply put, were track. This track could have easily been removed from the mixtape, in all honesty. It’s very skippable.
Track 27) “Slurr” [10/10]
This is it. The magna opus of XX/\/\E’s. On “Slurr”, XX is ambitious, arrogant, introspective, and just had tons of personality. Atmospherically, this blows my mind from the very-well selected beat, to the storytelling tied into the lyrics, to the voice affect. Let’s get into it.
It starts off very well with a very brash, explicit vocal sample about sex, using bowling as a metaphor for getting down and dirty. The beat went hard as fuck with banging drums, and a haunting melody that you won’t forget. After this superb intro, the beat temporarily fades away. Then, the real fun begins.
XX is a semi-frequent user of a chopped-and-screwed, deep voice effect, but his usage of it has never been as perfect as it is now. Not only does it match the pitched down intro, but it makes the verses a bit hard to understand, giving XX the slur that fits the title so well.
The production on this is fucking superb. The haunting baseline makes you feel like you are in a club, right next to XX as he spits his bars. To top that off, the producer looped a piano and vocal sample in various places throughout the beat, adding on to the atmosphere. I’ve always been a fan of Randy Cannabis, but this is a superb find by XX/\/\E.
Starting off strong with:
Yeah, slow-mo, my girl looks like a model
XX/\/\E delivers some of his best verses of all time due to his very intricate storytelling, imagery, personality, flow, and delivery. He also put out a very catchy hook, summing up the superbly ridiculous track by stating that he doesn’t do drugs. This is the climax of mixtape, yet it still is in the early stages of developing the story of XX/\/\E and his girl.
Track 28) “Roses” [9/10]
As one of the most emotional tracks on the entire mixtape, XX almost made me cry with his beautiful, poetic lyrics at the beginning and end of the song. It also features one of the most relatable subject matters and some of his best singing of all time.
For a start, this is certainly one of my favorite beats that XX has ever used. With a haunting vocal sample looped throughout the song, various electronic synths pulsing back and forth, and a lo-fi drum beat, it reflects on the emotions of XX perfectly. I wish that the absolutely tragic violin sample at the end was continued though…one of the most beautiful things I have ever listened to. Hands down.
Lyrically, XX delivers some extremely and emotional lyrics, pushing the story of him and his lover as far as possible. This is perhaps the most sincere XX has ever sounded, even though he got a bit off-topic in the middle of his verse. He still managed to express himself perfectly throughout the track though.
Track 29) “Alien” feat. J Trauma [6/10]
Those who have heard of XX/\/\E have also probably heard of J Trauma since they collaborate very frequently. This is for sure among one of their better collaborations, but both artists still have noticeable flaws that holds this back from me calling it great.
Let’s first talk about the beat. I really liked the ambition of the producer, Acid Brain, as he took two samples from two popular beats, “Pound Cake” by Drake and “Man of the Year” by ScHoolboy Q, and combined them into one beat, giving it an entirely different vibe. They blended well to an extent.
Lyrically, both artists delivered. Perhaps XX had the best verse lyrically, but Trauma showed off his ability to rhyme smoothly in his verse and rapped the hook of the song. However, his verse was mix and mastered extremely poorly, killing the vibe of his verse quite a bit. Overall, this was a decent track though.
Track 30) “Todays II [IWILOPE]” [7/10]
For some odd reason, this song reminds me of the song “Hoover Street” by ScHoolboy Q. Perhaps it is the blunt storytelling that XX/\/\E used on this track. Perhaps the longer lengths of the two tracks also helped me form the connection.
The beat on this was dope, with its smooth guitar riff melody, spontaneous sound effects in the background, and its chill drum pattern, giving it a very clean vibe. I also really enjoyed the cut vocals on the track that were looped at times, giving a unique edge to the track. The singing was a bit iffy though
Track 31) “Luv” [7/10]
Despite its short length, I enjoyed “Luv” quite a bit for a few reasons. For a start, I thought that XX’s usage of filters and multiple voices was excellent, and it definitely sounded like he put a lot of work into the track. The upbeat, one-minute beat by Miraa had playful guitar riffs, a side-chained lo-fi drum pattern, and a light bass that allowed the instrumental to not sound too overwhelming.
I also got a lot out of the subject matter of the track…I would even say I luved it (heh), as XX was introspective, and XX got personal about his relationship with this girl, enlightening her, and pushing the sub-plot further ahead as the climax approaches. XX’s flow wasn’t intricate, but it was suitable for a track like this, and I can’t say that I had any complaints about it.
Track 32) “Awake” [7/10]
Flow-wise, XX killed it. He sounded very charismatic throughout the track, stayed on beat, and switched up his tempo right and left, giving the listener a sense of intricacy. Perhaps his focus on flow took away from the lyrics a bit, but I still felt like they were above average. Even though it was hard to tell, XX also had a very solid delivery that suited the beat.
In terms of production, this beat was good. It featured vocal samples, a woozy baseline, piano riffs that echoed throughout the beat, and good progression. It was especially brought out when XX sang the hook of the track, featuring some of the best harmonies he has ever used.
Yes…I realize that the mixing-and mastering on this track is kind of shitty on this, but if XX didn’t use me, it would be the same quality as “Suburban City Kid”. Plus, I kind of like the grittiness in XX’s vocals throughout the track…it adds to the effect of the song.
Track 33) “Again” [6/10]
Perhaps “Again” didn’t stand out as being one of the best tracks on the entire mixtape, but it certainly gave off good vibes. The beat was introverted, but smooth and clean, and had lots of different textures. XX took a large gamble by singing with a very high falsetto on the hook, and even though his singing wasn’t perfectly, I give XX props for being ambitious.
Lyrically, this simply didn’t really stand out as being above average, but XX/\/\E spit some of his best rhymes on this track on lines such as:
Laying down motionless, emotionless
Of course it is, Morpheus
On the flip side, this track features one of the best flows on the entire project, a solid delivery, and I quite enjoyed XX’s singing at the end (in his typical range). “Again” was above average overall, but still has room for improvement.
Track 34) “Silentz” feat. Wounded Youth [9/10]
Remember the climax of the love story sub-plot that I’ve been hinting at throughout the course of this entire review? This is it. XX’s goes large on this epic banger produced by Lucifear, and brings one of his best guest features of all time on this track.
The beat is perfect for this track, starting off bouncy and somber, XX raps about how his tensions with his girl have grown to the extent that he can’t take it anymore. It features vocal samples, a heavy trapgoth bass, and distant guitar riffs.
When the beat slows down and pitches down, Wounded Youth delivers some insanely beautiful vocals and sings from the perspective of XX’s lover, desperately begging him to take him back, and tells him that his heart is “expiring”, using vivid imagery.
XX blatantly expresses his dislike for his girl using pitched down vocals immediately after Wounded Youth’s vocals, saying that she is “selfish” and “has problems”. The beat continues to bang hard, even though the tempo is slowed down. This is the climax of the climax.
To conclude, Wounded Youth accepts that both of them are hurting, and gives up, telling XX to let go of her, and killing all of his final thoughts of her. It is truly beauty in music; this track has drama, storytelling, and a banging beat, even though some of the little aspects of XX’s verses were a bit lazy to make room for the storytelling in his verses. It still is genius though.
Track 35) “Suburban City Kid” [4/10]
Perhaps this track would be one of my favorites on Miles if it weren't for the blatantly awful mixing and mastering. It sounded like he recorded the entire track on a single, low-quality microphone, which is really strange, because the rest of the tracks on this mixtape weren't like this at all.
XX/\/\E’s lyricism and creativity were on point here, and he delivered a decent flow, but all of this is simply drowned out by the really low-quality mixing and mastering. From what I hear, the beat sounds nice, but I can barely hear the bassline. Don’t know what to say, except that this track, simply put, doesn't reflect well on XX, and comes off as extremely lazy.
Track 36) “Another?” [6/10]
This track gives me a similar vibe to “Luv” and has a vague subject matter that reminds me of “Braids”, but it lacks certain qualities that made those tracks dope. It is actually the shortest track on the mixtape (not including the “MS remix”), not even reaching the minute mark.
Production-wise, it sounded similar to “Luv” even though it is a different producer on the beat. I liked the use of side-chain, and perhaps the main melody on this is even better than the one on “Luv”. XX’s singing on this track was quite enjoyable, as was the mixing and mastering of XX’s vocals.
Track 37) “Adoption” [8/10]
As certainly one of the standout tracks on Miles, “Adoption” features perhaps the best storytelling on the entire mixtape, serving as an epilogue to the love story subplot. This is where he lets go, like Wounded Youth requested him to, and gives his final thoughts to his ex-lover, ending the relationship on a good note.
In terms of the lyrics, XX definitely pays attention to the detail. Channeling his energy through the sampled, chill beat, he contributes to the atmosphere by requesting to take a walk with this girl one last time on a rainy day in New Jersey. Plus, it features one of his most inspirational and quotable lyrics ever:
Just remember, when you’re down on yourself
XX’s flow and delivery is a bit awkward, but in some ways, this helped out with the track. It helped him come off as more sincere and realistic…you wouldn’t want him spitting aggressively over this particular beat. Overall, this track features a more sentimental XX that I would like to see more often.
Track 38) “Don’t Tell Your Parents” [7/10]
On this track, XX raps in two different perspectives, there is a beat switch-up, and delivers a powerful interlude, leaving me to believe that this is his version of Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”. Perhaps it would have been one of my favorites on this project, if it was executed better.
By far, the best aspect of this song is the lyrics. He not only accurately paints a perfect picture of his life, but his attention to details from the perspective of his ex-girlfriend is extremely realistic. This is an accurate demonstration of XX’s ability to be versatility.
The production was wavy, and gave off good-vibes, but the drum pattern was iffy to the point where it was practically non-existent, especially on the second half. His delivery and flow were actually on point for the most part though, even though the beat had an awkward tempo.
Track 39) “This Was True” [7/10]
As Miles comes to a close, XX starts to reflect over various subject matters discussed on the album, from his depression, to his hopes for the future, and of course, his lover. His flow and delivery were around average, perhaps a bit above, but they filled the purpose.
The best part of this track is certainly the beat, starting off with an epic guitar sampled intro, to a “chipmunk-sampled” vocal loop being played throughout the course of the song. It captures the emotions XX tries to express perfectly.
Track 40) “No Response” [6/10]
“No Response” ends the emotional, versatile, diverse project well, and wraps up the loose ends. Perhaps it doesn't have the most hard-hitting beat, and perhaps the deliberately distorted vocals geared towards everybody, but I felt like this did pick up where “This Was True” left off nicely.
The lyrics weren’t great, but he did go through a lot of subjects, many of which he began talking about “This Was True”. I liked his switch-up in delivery towards the end of the song quite a lot, and just like he usually does, he ended the project with a very unoriginal, yet thought-provoking one-line…perhaps another ode to his intricate creativity:
I don’t have nothing else to say
In terms of emotions and feels, no XX/\/\E track compares to “Roses”. With a hauntingly beautiful instrumental, an excellent subject matter, and desperate singing, XX/\/\E manages to capture his feelings within his music, making the track superb.
2) “Silentz" feat. Wounded Youth”
As the epic climax of the love story on this mixtape, XX/\/\E basically gives up on his girlfriend, depicted by Wounded Youth and her stunningly gorgeous vocals. As the two artists switch verses, the tension is high, and the listener is kept on the edge of his/her seat.
Literally every aspect of this track is brilliant. From the atmospheric bassline of the production, to XX’s blunt and gritty storytelling and personality, to the pitched down vocals, XX/\/\E paints a vivid picture of an unresistably fun night about drugs and love. What isn’t there to love about this?
In all honesty, there are no major flaws on this half of the project, even though there are quite a few minor ones which I expressed above. There was the occasional bad beat, flow, verse, etc, but XX stayed consistent and dropped some of his best tracks ever on this half.