TeenWitch by Bones–Glorifying Suicide or a Work of Art?

Elmo Kennedy O’Connor aka “Bones” has become one of the most eminent and influential artists in the underground rap scene. Over the last 7 years he’s had tremendous success in creating his own brand/label TeamSESH and has set trends along the way. Originally he went by the name Th@ Kid but changed it to Bones in 2012 when he started to branch out into his own style musically with dark trap beats and grunge style singing. His music has had a significant impact on many underground artists today who try to emulate his creepy, bone-chilling sound.

At the age of 16, he dropped out of school and moved from Howell, Michigan to L.A. where his brother Elliott O’Conner–who would later become his manager–was already living. He began releasing lots of music and started to gain a cult following on the internet. In the early days of his music career, Bones put on live performances inside warehouses that looked more like heavy metal shows than rap shows because the crowds made mosh pits and walls of death. Since then he’s done multiple cross country tours alongside Xavier Wulf, Chris Travis, and Eddy Baker as a group named SESHOLLOWATERBOYZ. In 2015, A$AP Rocky remixed the song “Dirt” by Bones on his album At. Long. Last. A$AP. He performed the remix, titled “Canal St.” on Jimmy Kimmel Live and brought out Bones to perform along with him. In that moment, Bones proved to everyone that it was possible for a musician to make it to the national spotlight independently without any help from a label or any sort of record deal.

Bones has released 40 mixtapes, one being TeenWitch which dropped back in 2014. Back then, the internet reacted strongly to it for various reasons. People took issue with Bones’ signature style and also his approach and focus for the album. Bones refers to TeenWitch as a “documentary about the Columbine shooting through the eyes of the parents, victims, and killers.” Some people criticized it for promoting violence and suicide just like Marilyn Manson was blamed for Columbine and other shootings. In reality Bones’ intent was not to glorify the tragedy but to try to understand how it happened in the first place and make sure something like it doesn’t happen again. In the description of the album on his SoundCloud page, Bones writes, “Violence does not solve your anger nor does it resolve a thing.”

There is a wide range of sounds when it comes to the flows, production, and vocals throughout TeenWitch. On “FearTheNobodies”, produced by Greaf, there’s soothing acoustic guitars and melodic vocals to form a sort of pop punk vibe. Also produced by Greaf, the song “Cotton” featuring Fifty Grand uses some more acoustic instruments paired with Fifty Grand’s soft, angelic voice. The two best songs off the tape though were produced by Jayyeah. “WitchBoy” immediately catches your attention with ear-shattering synths and heavy bass straight out of the witch house era. Finally “BlackDuffelBag” is truly a masterpiece. Bones transcends the idea that a rapper can’t simultaneously make good rock music with this track. His punk-inspired singing voice glides over a lo-fi guitar riff that’s reminiscent of old Nirvana or Blink-182.

My first impression was a bit like everyone else’s–it’s full of strange sounds and the theme centered around Columbine feels disturbing. After listening through some of his older projects, I decided to go back to TeenWitch to give it a full listen. As I listened from beginning to end I began to understand the true power of this album and how unmatched Bones’ skills really are. I began to realize the genius behind Bones’ efforts to try to explain the Columbine incident through multiple perspectives including his own artistic interpretation.

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