The introduction for XXXTENTACION's debut album is called "The Explanation," but it's more like a demand. Speaking in a tone just above a whisper, the 19-year-old implores listeners to take residence in his damaged psyche, a living arrangement that involves both surrender and a trip to the dark side. Released less than a year before his tragic death, 17 is a forlorn constellation of indie rock, alt-R&B, nimble raps, and engrossing emotion. Coated in shadowy thoughts and flurries of sullen melody, 17 largely neglects the explosiveness of X's previous works; you won't find the propulsive nihilism of "RIP Roach" or the demented euphoria of "Look At Me!" And yet it's no less intense. Sandwiched between ambient coos and supple acoustic strings, "Everybody Dies In Their Nightmares" packages suicidal thoughts in a lullaby; X's muted tone evokes the quiet disaffection of someone who accepts depression as life's only constant. If "Nightmares" is the sound of grim acquiescence, "Save Me" is a soundtrack for exasperation, with its dazed strings and X's emotive yelps emitting a destructive brand of isolation. That desperation surfaces again on "F**k Love," a longing, Trippie Redd–assisted single that renders their shouts as a painful last-ditch love letter. It’s a detour for what’s largely an exercise in fatalistic calm. While he adopts varied musical approaches, 17 is united by muted trauma. It is both theme and aesthetic, with tranquil soundscapes giving his lyrics room to linger. "Jocelyn Flores" evokes the tremors of troubling thoughts and too much time to sit with them. Coasting over nocturnal guitar strings and a ghostly vocal sample, X reflects on a world where trauma is as much a result as it is a resource. "I'll be feeling pain just to hold on," he sings, melting into a void of descending loneliness.

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