An Interview With XXXSensation, the Internet’s Top XXXTentacion Parody Artist
It is an incredible time to be alive in this social media-fied and meme-d out era of hip hop. We get videos of SpongeBob soundtracked by Playboy Carti and Instagram videos like “lil pump fighting gas pump.”
And then a tweet like this falls from the heavens:
how many retweets for me to perform Kiss On Me *clean* at your Chicago show ?#VIRAL
— XXXSENSATION – XXX (@THEXXXSENSATION) June 19, 2017
I clicked on the XXXSensation’s Twitter account and seconds later landed on a song titled “Kiss on Me.” Yes, it is a parody of the incredibly popular cut “Look at Me” by XXXTentacion. XXXSensation opens the song with a softened instrumental and spits the lines, “I’m like, Girl, do you have plans?/ Can’t keep my heart in your hands/ My girl don’t love me no more/ She kick me out, I’m like woah.”
Going deeper into XXXSensation’s SoundCloud there are tracks like “#ImRidinBikesInYoHood,” where he again recreates the same sound of the notorious Florida rapper, but with family friendly lyrics and positive messages about fighting for women’s rights.
The man behind XXXSensation is Chicago resident Declan Murphy, a comedian/musician who has been making hip hop since 2009. (Earlier this year, he transcribed every ad lib on Culture by Migos and co-created the site migosadlibs.com.) We called up Murphy to tell us about his newest creation.
What happened on the day you decided to record “Kiss on Me”?
So it was clear to me the second I heard XXXTentacion’s music that this dude was a little different from what I was hearing in this generation of rap. I’m a scholar of this stuff. I love hip hop and kind of studied the game since I was in middle school, so to see someone new come on to the court and do that kind of thing is crazy.
So I was listening to “Look at Me” and you can’t help but see red when you hear that song. It’s very violent, talks about all kinds of sexual and physical violence. So that day I made “Kiss on Me” I was feeling guilty about liking the song. There is so much negativity in this. Is there a way to turn this negative energy into positive energy but keep the energy levels the same? Like conferring it from Sith to Jedi force, can we do it?
I didn’t think it would ever get this far, but I just did it because it would be a fun little challenge.
What I found crazy is how 1:1 these parodies are. The time stamps, flow and the instrumentals just match up perfectly. How long does it take you to flip an XXX track?
I mean some are easier than others. Sometimes I don’t have to remake the instrumental. Like he raps on this song “Snow” that I remade as “Glow,” but it is just a NIN instrumental. But of course I had songs where I had to start from scratch, figuring out what the BPM and the key of the song was. Cadence, that is what I look for when I listen to rappers, and I love how X goes. Ski Mask too, his flows are bananas. When I hear something like that my ear is like, “What the heck is that?” So I try to figure it out.
So the best ones take more love and take maybe three or four days. When I first started, I dropped a track every five days.
For “Kiss on Me,” you made that beat by yourself?
That’s whats so crazy, because it is not me at all. That is an James Blake song. The track that X samples is “Changes” by Mala, who is a big dubstep artist. What I found is a James Blake remix of that same song. But it is not under his name, but under Harmonomix. So it is James Blake’s remix of the song that X sampled. It is just that instrumental and I’m actually working with Blake’s lawyers right now to get my song on Spotify and other streaming services.
So [XXXTentacion] producer Rojas took “Changes” and made that trappy, distorted sound with that sample. But if you go back to the song he sampled, it is a dance track. It was supposed to be played in London at 4 a.m. in a smoky club somewhere. James Blake made this like sunshine, poppy, syrupy remix. That instrumental I’m rapping over is one of my favorite James Blake songs he put out. I loved that song for years.
You even have the artwork down. I noticed for your parody of “Garrett’s Revenge” you even remade the handwritten note.
That took so long, my man. What I’ve been trying to do with every cover since is to remake it and kind of take out the venom. X has a lot of that dark energy. I think of him like Darth Maul where he’s new to the game and just coming at everybody. I respect the power but want to shift it towards good.
How long did it take to make that cover?
It was a four step thing. I had to type out what was said originally by whoever wrote it. There is even a mystery to that. Some say X wrote it after his friend killed herself. Others say it was a suicide note. And if I could get a confirmation that it is someone’s suicide note I would take the track down in a minute. And I’ve talked to fans about it too. Part of this project is that I’m not trying to erase sad things or ignore it. If anything I’m trying to bring light to them.
So I was writing it out on my computer and had to change all the words to nice words and then handwrite it. I’m going to be honest, it took four attempts to draw it out because it’s like 27 lines in that little block. My handwriting is not that nice, that certainly was a challenge. But it is something that is apart of putting these songs out is about making the art, too.
You even got you boy Glee Mask the Woke God on these tracks
Cash came through with that verse! Honestly, that is one of my favorites, mostly because we got Lil B in the title. I owe so much to the Based God because, real talk, I’ve been a fan of Based God for a long time and I even got him to come to my college. Lil B brought positivity to my life.
Who is Cash?
Cash is the one who runs memes for No Jumper. He is one of five dudes who has the keys to the No Jumper account on Twitter. He is aware of what is going on in the world and was retweeting my stuff. He go into my DMs and said it was incredible, and Cash is a good rapper so I said we should do something together. So he came through with that verse man.
One of two recurring themes I notice with XXXSensation is cats. What’s good with that?
That came very naturally because I was trying to cover songs that XXX’s fanbase was into and songs that would be fun to cover. And once I saw “Look at Me” got 5,000, 10,000 plays in a couple weeks I knew I had to do more stuff like that. That’s a lesson in the comedy world—if you are doing something that is working, keep doing it. So the next one was “Riding Bikes in Yo Hood,” which is like a lifetime activity and if I’m not sipping tea, what can I do in someone’s neighborhood. The next [XXXTentacion] one that came up was “YuNg BrAtZ.” So what sounds like “YuNg BrAtZ” but isn’t that? Oh “YuNg CaTz.”
You know kitty cats are cute and make you feel all the things that I kind of want people to feel when they listen to my music. It is almost like a spirit animal of XXXSensation.
The other theme is women’s rights.
Yeah, it is hard to talk about that without bringing up why this all started. X blew up while he was in prison. Don’t get me wrong, he was already blowing up before that. However, the mystery around whether or not he strangled and beat his pregnant girlfriend, at the time, was the news on the street. I do not want to say he is guilty before being proven innocent, ever.
But I will say the American public was interested by that, was taken by the idea of this domestic abuse and violence. That dark fascination that I think America has brought out is this weird thing. Like, yo, what about the girl here? What about the fact that someone was getting hurt and a victim of this. And maybe she wasn’t, but every nine seconds a women is beaten in this country. Every nine seconds. So even if she wasn’t beaten, why aren’t other people standing up and saying something? Why aren’t people taking a stand against it.
I didn’t think “Kiss on Me” would reach more than 500 people, but now that it has half a million plays, everybody whose seen that song see’s that in the description it says to donate to Break the Cycle. That is on all my projects and what I want people to see first. As much as this is about me and XXXTentacion, there is a bigger thing here. This is about how we treat women, how hip hop treats women and not even just hip hop. Look at rock & roll stars in the ’80s. Women have historically been marginalized and I can talk your ear off that.
I noticed you were offering SoundCloud reposts for donations.
So I’m doing this campaign to try and raise a million dollars for different women’s rights organizations. Whether it is women’s shelters or different entities that fight for equality in the workplace, anywhere. There is so much systemic idiocy in this country that predates our parent’s generation. It got set up and no one ever challenged it. And it doesn’t just effect women, but minorities of race as well.
For a while I was joking about it, because X would tweet $200 for a 24 hour repost, and I would tweet I’m charging $2000 for a two-hour repost. Then I started thinking how I could actually use that idea to raise money and get people involved.
I love to support people who donate to good stuff. That is something I want to touch upon later this year. I want to start challenging rappers and other people in the world of entertainment who have a responsibility to women and to those that are disenfranchised. I want to work with them this year to spread this message and bust it out of SoundCloud, because that is where it’s at right now.
24 HOUR SOUNDCLOUD
REPOSTS: Simply donate
$5 to @BreaktheCycleDV or
a different Women's Rights
organization & DM me a pic
of the receipt 🙂
— XXXSENSATION – XXX (@THEXXXSENSATION) June 17, 2017
So tell me about the alternative XXXSensations
I was kind of sick of people not getting the jokes. The name “XXXSensation” was a joke about how everybody was mispronouncing [XXXTentacion]. So I thought that it would be funny to record a Spanish language version the best that I can. It also breaks down the walls of language and unites people. Everybody kisses, I don’t know any cultures in this world that don’t kiss on people. It was a result of doing these different language versions, this message is universal. Everybody loves, kisses and thinks that the girl they’re with is a ten and wants the best for them. It was an extension of the original idea, to see if I can touch people through different languages. I had a friend who helped me translate it into Arabic and another friend from college who speaks Japanese.
For me it was a way to keep doing it, if that makes sense. I even made a Twitter moment with myself (the manager), XXXSensation (the artist) and XXXSensación (the aggressor.) Basically XXXSensation drove down to Mexico to settle a beef with Sensación. I went on Google images and found different images of people driving in different states and Google mapped my trip. As far as entertainment in the 21st century goes it was one of my favorite things that I’ve ever done.
That seems like a lot of work!
I mean, I love seeing it out there. The amount of love that I’ve gotten from doing this project, with people telling me I made their day 10 times better, I get emotional when people tell me that. It’s like I’m able to reach out through the computer and affect people in a positive way that makes them glow. I’m humbled.
So I understand that you tried to perform with X at the Chicago gig where he was a no-show. Has he acknowledged you yet?
He actually got in my DMs. I was at a studio in Chicago and my phone vibrated. And the first thing you think is that there are so many parody accounts and that there is no way that it could be real. It was Friday night, on March 31st, and I was on a little Henny, but when that message hit I sobered up quick. My eyes bugged out of my head. The message was, “Ur hilarious i fwu!” followed by two emojis.
I’ve written him back since a couple times and I was trying to open for him at his show in Chicago. I even had a RT thing going, and the fact that within 24 hours 120 people retweeted from my little Twitter following shows they are not passive fans. And it is fun to see people get engaged with this content.
So XXXSensation, how can we make the world a better place?
That’s a everyday thing. Every person has a responsibility to not only themselves but to the people they interact with every single day. Every moment could be positive, negative or neutral. I’m all about smiling and saying hi. Be real and be genuine with one another! I think at this point, especially with the younger generation, people can tell when they are being false. When real see real, they recognize, it’s a Jay Electronica quote. We need people to be real and to trust each other because we are in a world where information is under attack. So for the next seven and a half years we need to be real with each other, look at each other in the eye and be each other’s keepers because we are all that we have. Love is all we have.