Not even 7 months after his debut studio album, XXXTENTACION releases his second studio album ? (question mark). His second studio LP starts off with “Introduction (Instructions)”, an excerpt explaining to his listeners to have an open mind, similar to “Explanation” from 17.
As the project unfolds he tells stories of his incredible life; its ambiguities and contradictions within his music career. He pretty much lives two lives, so half of the songs are dark and mysterious, and the other half is full of positivity and bursts of happiness.
“ALONE, PART 3” is the first actual song, which references his “ALONE” face tattoo over his left eyebrow. He had previously mentioned that he acquired the tattoo because he’s felt lonely his entire life, and especially in hip hop.
Being dubbed as the dark figure of hip hop since his XXL Freshman freestyle, he’s managed to become the voice of depression, mental health, and suicide. This is where “Moonlight” comes in, where X addresses the criticism he’s received and his ability to shine despite it.
“SAD!” is a song that talks about the one drug we all succumb to: love. The song is about his feelings with his previous lover Geneva Ayala (who he allegedly abused) and his friend Jocelyn Flores, who commited suicide. X is battling with demons within his head – he suffering from depression, lovesickness, and hiding his emotions while in the spotlight.
“I gave her everything/She took my heart and left me lonely/I think broken heart’s contagious/I won’t fix, I’d rather weep/I’m lost then I’m found/But it’s torture bein’ in love/I love when you’re around/But I fuckin’ hate when you leave”
On a “remedy for a broken heart (why am I so in love)” he raps about the term ‘saved’ as himself being a superhero and trying to save someone who can’t save themselves. Similar to E-40’s “Captain save a hoe”
“I’m the type to save a bitch, C-A-P-E/Feelin’ like ET, flyin’ out of the Addy”
While the following track “Floor 555” is about fighting people who talk shit, it shows the contradictionary side of X’s personality while additionally sounding more like a metal or rock sound with high volumes of yelling.
Numb is a reflection on X’s lifetime painful journey from attending Juvenile detention center for a gun possession charge,being charged for robbery, aggravated battery, and false imprisonment.
“And every single year/I’m drowning in my tears, I’m drowning in my tears again/I can’t seem to forget the pain you seem to give”
On “infinity (888)” feat. Joey Bada$$, we can see his versatility from boombap, alternative, R&B and his previous screamo emo sounding songs. Additionally, in 2012 Joey’s best friend and Pro Era member Capital STEEZ, jumped to his death from the roof of Cinematic Music Group headquarters. Even though both rappers have felt ‘numb’ and pain they mention that they are passed that and ‘don’t feel the pain no more.
“Hope” is dedicated to an incident that took place in Parkland, Florida where 17 people lost their lives and 14 injured. In January he started a #helpinghandchallenge which encourages kids to help people in need. The prize for the winner was a PS4, and Xbox One, thousands of dollars a pass to hang out with him for a day. In addition to this he donated musical instruments, computers and money to foster homes.
“Before I Close My Eyes” is in reference to the children’s prayer “Now I lay myself to sleep”. It is the final track on the album that signifies that X knows his contradicting statements as well as his negative energy in which he admits committing. However, despite all of this he wishes to use his music to preach positivity and change his wrongdoings.
Within the album we also get a feature drum solo from Travis Barker from Blink-182, a song with 12 year old fidget spinning trap artist Matt OX, two tracks with PnB Rock and a spanish flare with Rio Santana, Judah, and Carlos Andrez.
? shows the versatility of flows and sounds X can bring to the table. All of which while staying true to himself in storytelling.
? describes the sins of Florida’s mass shootings, mental depression and suicide all within the same realm of his personal life story – hell on earth. It blends all of the musical genres together for a commonality – a fight against depression. X preaches that we can all get through this shit together if we bond, give back, and care for those in need before it is to late.