XXXTentacion’s ‘SKINS’ and The Ethical Dilemma Surrounding Posthumous Releases


Jackson Manely, Editor

On June 18th, the music world was shocked by the sudden death of famed rapper XXXTentacion (real name Jahseh Onfroy). The Florida native was shot and killed at a motorcycle dealership in Deerfield Beach. The immediate aftermath of Onfroy’s death was an outpour of both love and disgust.

Onfroy was praised by the fans of his music, but was harshly criticized by many due to the alleged abuse of his ex-girlfriend. The allegations of which followed Onfroy and his music for the latter part of his life.

Allegations aside, Onfroy’s impact on music and Gen Z will not soon be forgotten. His music explored themes such as mental illness and suicide, giving a voice to people’s deepest insecurities. He turned brutal vulgarity into a strange form of optimism, mastering the art of shock value along the way.

Last Friday saw the release of XXXTentacion’s posthumously released album “SKINS.” The album is comprised of ten tracks at only twenty minutes long. The tracklist was a combination of Onfroy’s unreleased material recorded and produced before his death and the work of producer John Cunningham after his death.

There was a serious lack of material to work with when putting this record together. The samples of Onfroy’s were sparse and disjointed, describing the short playback time.

Talking about the songs as a cohesive unit would be pointless as they don’t offer anything all together. “SKINS” is essentially a few singles and some filler songs that were supposed to further the legacy of Onfroy’s music and provide closure to his fans.

The effort to expand his catalog wasn’t worth compromising its overall quality. These are weak adages to an otherwise impressive and eclectic body of work. This brings up the ethical dilemma surrounding releasing music after artists die.

Posthumous releases have been commonplace in the recent history of music. Notable examples include Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, and Notorious B.I.G.. The only real problem with such releases is the lack of artist’s involvement in the final product. This causes a sense of dishonesty and shows the true intention of posthumous releases: money.

“SKINS” is a great example of a cash grab album. Someone had to know that the album was incomplete, but the parties involved were blinded by profit. I would rate this album a one out of five stars. This is in no means a reflection of my attitude towards Onfroy. His previous work “?” released earlier this year had some really solid songs, and I enjoyed his initial release “Look At Me” for its defiant nature.

This album gives us a sneak peek at the future of commercial music. A future that values materialism over art. Jahseh Onfroy, whether looked at as an influential artist or as a domestic abuser, was just twenty years old when his life was taken from him. There’s no need to milk his outreach for money.

Photo: Bad Vibes Forever/ Empire