by Yas Akdag, Jordan Lee, Destine Manson, Candace Patrick, and Brian Savino
This story was originally published on New York University’s Washington Square News.
Pop, rap, rock. What isn’t covered this week? Dive into these eclectic reviews to find the freshest new music to add to your library.
“vice city” by XXXTENTACION
Jordan Lee, Contributing Writer
Until now, XXXTENTACION’s posthumous releases have been unreleased materials and unfinished projects created prior to his death in 2018. “vice city,” on the other hand, was released while the rapper was still alive, and is the earliest available track on his SoundCloud. He recorded and released it in 2014 at the age of 16. After being released from juvenile detention, he had sought to turn his life around by making music.
“vice city” features introspective lyrics focusing on depression, mortality and finality. At points, XXXTENTACION’s bars become ominous: “Backwards, pace backwards, everyone is superficial / Only breaching the surface, surface upon the Earth / And flames engulf the Earth, and prized possessions, they incinerate.” Here we see a young XXXTENTACION who is obsessed by and fixated on his own demise and finality in life. The writing is generally clever, if somewhat verbose and at times unclear.
The track was recorded over a sped-up YouTube beat based on a vocal sample from singer Laura Mvula’s “Sing to the Moon.” The silky, boom-bap production suits the dense and poetic writing. The vocals are lo-fi, recorded on a Blue Snowball microphone, years before XXXTENTACION had any real production budget. However, the song’s low-quality vocals and somewhat messy writing don’t detract from the listening experience when approached in context. Being introduced to or returning to this track knowing the career XXXTENTACION had after this song is rewarding, even if its replay value won’t be the same for everyone.
Read the rest of the story at Washington Square News.