In celebration of the late Jahseh Onfroy’s 25th birthday (Jan. 23), XXXTENTACION’s estate gifted fans with a present of their own.
Sharing “I’M NOT HUMAN” featuring Lil Uzi Vert — who rivaled X during the height of the SoundCloud era — news of the gorgeous collaboration came as a complete surprise in January. The track, which was uploaded to SoundCloud earlier this year, was officially released to all digital streaming platforms on the fifth anniversary of X’s death (June 18, 2023).
X’s ghostly vocals pair well with the track’s minimalistic guitar strums — melding airy ad-libs with introspective lines like “Air around me feels just like a cage / Love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage.” Despite not crossing paths, Uzi’s guest verse is not only an homage to the competitive nature they shared, but saw the Philly emcee lean into his singing more than ever before. “I know that I am not from this Earth / I know deep down you are hurt / but I’m not a human,” he croons into the abyss, with X answering the call from the other side.
When speaking on The Pink Tape rapper in his telling documentary LOOK AT ME in June 2022, X saw Uzi as a motivator above all. “Things were different around that time and different in a good way,” he said. “[He] was like my only competition… Every time I dropped, he dropped, or every time he dropped, I dropped. Or either he goes No. 1, or I go No. 1. Either way it was going to go, one of us was gonna turn up.”
Since the Fader Films-produced “XXXTENTACION: In His Own Words” dropped in November 2022, the Florida rapper’s legacy has been upheld by an outpour of support from die-hard fans, posthumous projects and early SoundCloud work being brought to DSPs (most recently “Let’s Pretend We’re Numb.” The hard-hitting topics discussed in his never-before-seen 2017 Fader interview resurfaced questions surrounding his ethical appeal and mental health. Yet X’s openess and engagement with his fan-base was the highlight of his life.
Lil Uzi Vert, on the other hand, is in the midst of rolling out their long-awaited album Pink Tape this month — teasing the record in numerous performances, Instagram Live sessions and IG Story posts that see him working closely with Opium’s Ken Carson and 16*29 partner Playboi Carti. Perhaps a link-up between the pair in the cards on Pink Tape — which continues to become more mythical and imminent with each new story they post.
X’s close collaborator and friend John Cunningham shared the story behind how the track came together. Read his full thoughts below.
Listen to the track below!
I’M NOT HUMAN: THE STORY
AS TOLD BY JOHN CUNNINGHAM
When I was living with Jah in Florida in 2018 we would spend most days in his room, me playing guitar and him singing, and the day he first sang “I’m not human” as I was playing that guitar part we both looked at each other and cracked a smile, knowing it was special. We listened back to the voice memo he recorded and talked about finishing it, but the few times that we tried recording vocals in the studio the feeling was never the same and he always preferred the original voice memo which is why we chose to keep it in the official version of the song.
The conversation with Uzi about finding the right time and the right song for a posthumous release with Jahseh dates back to late 2018 before the release of SKINS. Uzi came to Florida, played basketball with X’s little brother Aidan, listened to the album with Cleo and I, but eventually they felt it wasn’t the right time for a song and it was agreed that we would rather wait for something to feel right rather than force it. Year later I’m happy to say the right time and right song aligned after Cleo and Uzi reconnected in late 2022.
I met up with Uzi at the studio and after one of the few heartfelt conversations we’d have that night, I played the song— which hadn’t been touched since May of 2018— and after seeing Uzi’s reaction to the song it felt as though the past few years of conversations and back-and-forth song ideas had all led up to this. That feeling was echoed after hearing Uzi and Jahseh’s voices together in a way that neither of them have ever sounded.
As complicated and conflicting as posthumous releases can be I feel I’ll hold this one in a special place due to the fact that I was able to have some small part in connecting two of the most pure and loving people I know.