Highly anticipated since April, XXXTentacion’s first posthumous album, known as “Skins,” was released on Friday, Dec. 7. When it was first announced, it originally wasn’t meant to be posthumous. In fact, it was going to be one of the three projects that Jahseh Onfroy, the popular hip-hop artist known as XXXTentacion, planned to drop in 2018.
Onfroy was one of the lead rappers who helped start the SoundCloud rap movement, which originated in the South Florida area. SoundCloud rap is somewhat of a new subgenre of hip-hop that involves rappers uploading their songs to SoundCloud, a popular online audio distribution platform. It consists mostly of what is known as mumble rap, where rappers intentionally fail to enunciate their words, and emo rap, where they use lyrics and instrumentals to express emotions of grief or sadness.
In 2017, Onfroy rose to notoriety in the hip-hop community when his single, “Look At Me,” peaked at number 34 on the US Billboard charts. Today, the record is certified Platinum. While his song was gaining traction, Onfroy was in jail for charges of robbery and assault. During his time in jail, he signed to Empire Distribution.
Upon his release on April 18, 2017, Onfroy began to work on his debut studio album, “17,” which debuted at number 2 on the US Billboard 200. He continued to grow his fanbase, becoming a prominent name on the hip-hop scene.
After finishing his second studio album, Onfroy started “#HELPINGHANDCHALLENGE,” where he encouraged his fans to give back to the community. He uploaded a video to YouTube, where he donated musical instruments, video games, and toys to a foster home. Once #HELPINGHANDCHALLENGE reached 1 million mentions on Instagram, Onfroy said he would drop the album.
On Mar. 16, 2018, he released the album, known as “?”. Not long after the album dropped, he signed a $10 million deal with Empire Distribution for his third solo album.
Only about a month later, tragedy struck that shook the entire hip-hop community. On June 18, 2018, Onfroy was robbed and shot after leaving a motorcycle dealership. The robbers left the scene and Onfroy was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His funeral later took place on Jun. 27.
Prominent artists such as Kanye West, J. Cole, and Lil Pump were affected by the loss and shared their condolences. Many remember him for the innovative sound he brought and the support he showed to fellow musical artists.
“Rest in peace. I never told you how much you inspired me when you were here. Thank you for existing,” Kanye West tweeted.
Onfroy’s legacy lives on through his posthumous songs, including his latest album, “Skins”. The album consists of 10 songs with a runtime of less than 20 minutes, being one of his shortest projects yet. When working on it, it was Onfroy’s intention to make each of the songs short.
The second track, titled “Guardian angel,” acts as a spiritual successor to Onfroy’s song, “Jocelyn Flores,” which was on his first studio album. The instrumental is actually the “Jocelyn Flores” beat played in reverse. On the track, he raps about heartbreak and the pain it caused him.
Another notable song, called “whoa (mind in awe),” is simple, featuring only seconds of vocals. John Cunningham, Onfroy’s best friend and the producer of the song, coincidentally used the same sample, or same audio loop, that the Class of 2021 used in their Homecoming 2018 Spirit Video song. They got the beat for their video on YouTube.
“BAD!” is the fifth, and most popular, track of the album. It acted as the album’s lead single, which released on Nov. 9. Most fans already knew the song because Onfroy released a short snippet of it back in May.
Finally, one track to keep note of is “One Minute,” which features Kanye West, who called Onfroy of his favorite artists. Onfroy stated that he had always wanted to collaborate with him. West got a verse on the track after Onfroy’s death. Ironically, “One Minute” is a little over three minutes long, being the longest song on the album. It’s not your conventional hip-hop song, since a heavy metal guitar plays throughout it. It takes on more of a rock-and-roll vibe.
Fortunately for fans, “Skins” is only one of the many posthumous projects that Onfroy’s management has in store. Onfroy’s vocals have already been featured on many songs by artists such as Lil Pump, Trippie Redd, Lil Wayne, and Lil Peep. He is also featured on the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” official soundtrack. On his upcoming album called “Yandhi,” Kanye West plans to feature Onfroy as well.
As fans eagerly wait for new music, Onfroy’s legacy will continue to touch the hearts of many, leaving its footprint on not only the hip-hop community, but on the world.
“If I’m going to die or ever be a sacrifice, I want to make sure that my life made at least five million kids happy or they found some sort of answers or resolve in my life,” Onfroy said.