XXXTentacion – ‘Bad Vibes Forever’ review: a posthumous record of thin, over-embellished material

It's better than last year's 'Skins', but the second album released since the rapper's death is a case of diminishing returns

He’s been gone for over a year now, and XXXTentacion’s (real name Jahseh Onfroy) latest – and final, allegedly – album ‘Bad Vibes Forever’ arrives posthumously. The controversial rapper accrued a cult following during his turbulent lifetime; there’s huge demand for this record. But does the project live up to its hype, or the work of he produced while alive? The answer, sadly, is no. 

There are some really great tracks on the album – see ‘Daemons’, for example, on which Brooklyn rappers Joey Bada$$ and Kemba also tell tales of sinister turmoil. Onfroy’s performance is similar to that of his 2017 freestyle ‘I spoke to the devil in Miami and he said everything would be fine’. His possessed persona helps create a solemn, frightful track, but – in truth – Kemba is the true star of ‘Daemons’. The 29-year-old weaves a heart-wrenching story of family-turned-foe with absolutely clarity, finishing off the track perfectly.  

The bouncy dancehall track ‘Hot Gyal’ is similarly successful, the melodic track lightening the mood to get you moving. Lastly, the lead single and title track is a simplistic love song, with XXXTentacion enlisting Trippie Redd and PNB Rock to explore the topic at hand. The repetitive drum rhythm, along with isolated strums of an acoustic guitar, is excoriating but pretty. There’s even a catchy, breezy vocal refrain: What we gon‘ do-ooh-ooh?” 

Yet some recycled songs on the album just aren’t up to scratch . ‘Numb The Pain’ was heavily anticipated by said fans, since a short acoustic video of the verse went viral after XXXTentacion’s passing. In the end, though, it’s just those same emotionally honest lyrics (“I Just keeps me wondering if God’s beside us / And it’s driving me insane”) looped for a minute-and-a-half. Although Onfroy’s sweet gravely singing is a delight, it was simply ripped from the video. It was a great idea, but ultimately feels like fans are being short-changed

Given the fame that XXXTentacion achieved his short lifetime, it’s perhaps no surprise that ‘Bad Vibes Forever’ boasts some star collaborators. Rick Ross and Blink 182 do themselves justice, but Lil Wayne certainly doesn’t on ‘School Shooters’. After their successful 2018 collaboration ‘Don’t Cry’, you wouldn’t expect their second track together to feature such sloppy deliveries.

Luckily, the final track, ‘IT’S ALL FADING TO BLACK’ featuring everyone’s favourite pop-punk band Blink 182, is just as you want it: loud, proud and unsubtle. The clashing drums and screeching guitars offer a breath of fresh air at the end of a pretty mediocre album. 

‘Bad Vibes Forever’ is better than Skins, the first XXXTentacion album released after the rapper’s death, but all of his posthumous music to date has fallen short. Even if you do hate XXXTentacion, you cannot deny his influence on modern rap. But ‘Bad Vibes Forever’ is a serious case of over-embellishing thin material.

  • Release date: December 6
  • Record label: Bad Vibes Forever