TRACK BY TRACK: Quinn XCII’s 'A Letter To My Younger Self'
Check! The smell of the beach and sunscreen everywhere? Check! An
awesome new album by Quinn XCII? Check!
Genre-blending artist Quinn XCII released his reflective third studio album A Letter To My Younger Self on July 10, inspired by real-world experience of young people today, with pop, hip-hop, R&B, and indie influences. It’s the perfect mix of songs to listen to while chilling at home or by the pool, so let’s get into the song-by-song review of the 12-track project!
1. "Am I High Rn" (feat. blackbear)
“Am I High Rn” lays out the vibes for the rest of the 11 songs with its dreamy melody and the mix of soft vocals from Quinn plus the raspy rapping from blackbear. The tune in the chorus makes us feel like we’re driving into the sunset on a warm summer evening with the top down and the volume turned all the way up. But a closer look at the lyrics gives the listener an entirely different perspective. Blackbear raps: “The delusion and confusion got me hella trippin' now / I need likes to validate me, I need pills to chill me out,” capturing what many young people feel today — the constant pressure and need to be perfect in society’s eyes. Quinn asks, “Or am I paranoid of bein’ myself? / Is it my brain overworkin’ itself?” and if he’s “high right now” because the constant overthinking and uncertainty is so overwhelming. The first song is a masterpiece in itself and we’re excited to hear the rest!
Favorite lyrics: “I feel like I think too much / You only hit me up when you drink too much / And I don't wanna be your human Xanax bar...”
Think of the typical coming-of-age teen movie centered around a young, geeky high school boy with a huge crush on the older, prettier girl and “Stacy” would be the main theme song for it. The song is about a freshman boy and senior girl love interest and the two are trying to hide their little rendezvous (Jeremy Gilbert and Vicki Donovan in Season 1 of "The Vampire Diaries", anyone?). Overall, it’s a painful song with an upbeat melody capturing the struggles of a one-sided love affair. Quinn got way too attached to this girl and seems to have fallen in love, but she, the older girl with tattoos and her whole life ahead of her, doesn’t feel the same way and breaks his heart. Quinn repeats “I’m over you” in the end, but we don’t think he really is. [*cue the tears*].
lyrics: “You can call me anything, oh, anything you want /
Just don't call me yours...”
3. "Sleep While I Drive" (feat. Ashe)
If you’ve already found your summer love, we’re totally jealous because “Sleep While I Drive” is the cutest song to listen to on those scenic late-night drives. Transitioning from the heartache of the previous song, Quinn and electro-pop singer Ashe describe a typical “let’s get out of this town” love between two people with big dreams to see the world and be happy together. Quinn promises his love interest, “I'll go where you wanna go / Don't you, don't you know I'll go out and hit the road?” and if their minds “feel like a head rush” then she can sleep while he drives and takes the two of them into a new, better life. Once again, Quinn draws inspiration from his life experiences to create a relatable song about wanting to break free and get out there, and surely, we all remember feeling this way before. Even if you’re single, blast this song while driving to the grocery store and soak in the retro vibes. Three songs in and we’re already mesmerized!
Favorite lyrics: “So when our minds feel like a head rush / And both the highs and lows are just too much / You can sleep while I drive...”
4. "Second Time Around"
What’s a great album without that one emotional piano ballad? Quinn showcases his vulnerable side with “Second Time Around” and pleads to God that he’ll do his best on his second time around. He begs for a second chance to fix his wrongs and promises to live his life with no regrets, using everything he learned from the first time. Life holds some regrets and we can all relate to this song at one point. Quinn admits, “Been at war with myself / Makin’ my friends the enemy / I let all of them down,” but with another chance, he says, “I will live nothing like my past / I will make my mother proud / There will be no mistakes on my second time around.” Whoa, we weren’t expecting such a deep song on the album, but we’ve gained more respect for the singer for letting himself be so unguarded with inarguably his most powerful and simplistic song.
Favorite lyrics: “I've let down everyone that I call mine / God, I know I don't deserve it, but I need more time”...
5. "Coffee" (feat. Marc E. Bassy)
seriously, who would even think to break sweet Quinn’s heart?
Featuring 2AM Club singer Marc E.
Bassy, “Coffee” is a nostalgic song about,
well, coffee. Just kidding, it’s more complicated than that.
Quinn makes coffee for himself and is reminded of a girl who used
him and broke his heart, and all the painful memories come flooding
back at once. How does Quinn have the ability to make an incredible
song about something so simple and mundane? We’ll never know,
but we’re also not complaining! Quinn and Marc’s
velvety voices mix so well and it’s like music to our ears!
The beat takes us back to, funny enough, the smell of coffee on
relaxed sunny Sunday mornings. Hopefully Quinn can find someone
kind and caring to share a cup of coffee with!
Favorite lyrics: “I just made two cups of coffee / But you're not here to drink it now / Forgot you left before the morning / Guess I'll never know who you were thinkin' 'bout...”
6. "Notice Me"
Alright, ouch, we weren’t ready for this one. If you thought “Second Time Around” was truthful and painful, “Notice Me” takes the cake. Quinn is a gifted lyricist who knows just how to tug at our heartstrings and evoke those deep-seated feelings of loneliness, all while hiding the dismal lyrics behind a positive-sounding melody. He tells himself, “Maybe I’ll find comfort on my own / Maybe I’ll live in a quiet home / Maybe I’ll just settle down and leave these dreams alone,” going back to the theme of generational hopelessness, especially in today’s world. The way Quinn sings the chorus is strangely comforting and we hope the song will make all the people out there who feel lonely and ignored feel seen and loved.
Favorite lyrics: “One day, I'll just wake up and my life will be okay / And all the colors in my room will fight against the grey / But tonight things remain black and white...”
7. "A Letter To My Younger Self" (feat. Logic)
Halfway through the album, we get to the masterpiece’s title track, “A Letter To My Younger Self” featuring rapperLogic (so you know it’s going to be a good one!). The track is like a big bear hug from two of the most underrated artists in the music industry. Quinn and Logic exude positivity and they remind us to never forget where we come from and all the experiences, good and bad, that have shaped us into who we are today, while also not forgetting to look forward and to better ourselves every single day. Quinn sings, “Don't get too far in your own head when you shout / We'll smile in front of all the things we used to worry about / And I know it may not seem like it, but we figured out,” and it’s probably something we all wish we could tell to our younger selves. Logic’s verse includes his own personal experiences from the earlier days in his career when he struggled to where he is now — successful and happier. The message of the song? Don’t worry, take it easy!
lyrics: “When things around you feel they can't get worse /
If you won't describe the pain and how it hurts / I hope this
8. "More Than Friends"
Quinn just can’t catch a break in the love department, but we’re blessed with another nostalgic banger with “More Than Friends” that covers a friendship-gone-wrong situation, complete with a third-party love interest who ruined things for the OG best friends who could have become something more. He sings, “If I opened my mouth, bit the bullet and swooped in / You and I would be way more than friends / And not only strangers on the internet.” We feel for you, Quinn!
Favorite lyrics: “I'm scrolling all through your life / And I'm thinking 'bout you tonight...”
9. "Mad At Me"
Wait! We’re warning you, prepare to cry! Quinn exceeded our expectations with the love songs on this album, but “Mad At Me” is on a different level of pain. The flowy, slowed down beat and soft vocals describe the experience after losing the love of his life. Whether the love interest died or the two broke up is up to the listener’s interpretation, but the lyrics “So if I find someone to hold me when I get lonely / Would you be mad at me?” makes us think that the former happened. Quinn captures just how powerful love is and he shows us that it never ends, even after you part ways with the other person. We think this song would’ve been perfect for the montage of Ellie and Carl in the Pixar movie Up. It’s okay, we’ll give you a second to cry!
Favorite lyrics: “I still ask the hostess if she can save our favorite seats / And take some bread to that old park bench / For the local birds to eat / Then I go back to that king-sized bed / But it's way too big for me...”
10. "Two 10s"
10 songs into the album and Quinn hasn’t missed once! The song is about harmless teenage fun and how $20 is all that’s needed for a night out with friends. In the chorus, Quinn takes on the point of view of his younger self convincing his parents to let him go out and let loose. But Quinn mentions Stacy again and how he can’t speak for her when he promises that he “won’t do lines”, possibly a metaphor for drug use. Honestly, the vibes are immaculate with this track, and Quinn is here to tell us to cherish the small moments with our friends. Sometimes two 10s are all you need to have a real good time!
Favorite lyrics: “Can I get a twenty for a real good time? / Two tens, I'm not tryna go crazy / Give you my honesty that I won’t do lines / But I can't speak for Stacy...”
11. "Meeting Strangers"
For all the groovy reggae lovers out there, “Meeting Strangers” is a soulful and fun track that would sound ridiculously amazing live! Quinn spills his heart out and tells his love interest that he just isn’t feeling it and wants to enjoy his life as it is, and that’s totally okay! He says, “I just want space / I just need time / So take your nice face away from mine / It's all too early / Please slow down / A whole new place where I'll try / Meeting strangers 'til I die,” and we truly love that carefree self-love attitude! We hope Quinn puts this one on his next tour’s set list because OMG, the crowd would go crazy during the chorus... and by “crowd”, we mean us!
Favorite lyrics: "I lose balance leaving these halls / 'Cause there's somebody I miss / She's back in those same old brick walls / Right now, that feels like bliss...”
12. "Everything I Need"
To close it all out, “Everything I Need” sums up all the feelings and thoughts spread out throughout the past 11 individual tracks and we couldn’t think of a greater finale. We’re reminded that everything is uncertain, but we have to keep preserving and going forward no matter what challenges face us ahead — struggles with love, battling our insecurities, and dealing with modern societal pressures. Quinn suggests we “throw a party if this is really over”, and when you think about it, life is just a big continuous party that never ends, and we love this feel-good message! Cherish the “good friends, good memories”, because that’s all you need!
Favorite lyrics: “Let's throw a partyâŸifâŸthisâŸis really over / InviteâŸall your friends,âŸeven the ones that hate me / 'Cause after tonight, everything else is uncertain / But everything I need's in front of me...”
There you have it, another laid-back, thoughtful, but also happy-spirited album to define our weird summer. Quinn XCII didn’t disappoint at all with his 12-track masterpiece, reminding us to not take life for granted and to enjoy the present without worrying too much about the future ahead. Catch us kicking back and relaxing to A Letter To My Younger Self!