The intro of XXXTENTACION's third studio album, Skins, is imbued with a layer of residual tragedy. Whereas his previous solo LPs began with an explanatory introduction from X himself, this one leaves the job to a brief script and some text-to-voice software. It's a chilling reminder of X's untimely death and all the promise that would be left unfulfilled. And yet Skins itself is a monument to what he had accomplished before his passing. Laced with emotive murmurs, raucous shouts, and flashes of tightly wound raps, it's tidy distillation of all that made him one of the most gifted artists of his generation. While it's unlikely X got to polish this project to completion, producer John Cunningham ensures it's all threaded by the sounds he and X cultivated before his passing. It's raw, but with X, that was usually by design anyway. Here, he can be joyous or forlorn or exasperated. For "whoa (mind in awe)," he glides over twinkling xylophone and marimba for a track that feels like a holiday escape; his expressive murmurs float like new snow. Coasting over the emotive strings of "STARING AT THE SKY," he leans into his punk instincts as he sings of toxic lullabies and impending harm. Shifting between aesthetics and sensations, the track is further proof of X's ability to channel his emotions. There's some quirkiness, too. With its narcotized synths and X's woozy vocals, "BAD!" is an exercise in slurred delirium, and "i don't let go" is as frenetic as it is playful, with X injecting spurts of melody and sprightly raps into exotic flutes. X operates in varied psychological spaces for Skins, but he's at his most compelling when he's swallowed by fury. On the Kanye West–assisted "One Minute," he dives into screamo. Kanye serves up a reflective memorial to the late rapper, and Travis Barker's drums could soundtrack a riot. With his guttural shouts, X channels a type of spirit his voice—and the world itself—could barely contain.

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