Image Source: Coed Magazine
By Connor Foley
The popularity and controversy of XXXTentacion have been entangled throughout his rise to stardom and have now climaxed with the rapper’s sudden death, from which nobody seems to win.
The 20-year-old rapper—real name Jahseh Onfroy—was shot and killed on Monday June 18, outside a motorsports store in Florida, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
Videos soon surfaced on the internet of XXXTentacion slumped motionless in his BMW, in what police are describing as an armed robbery.
Thousands of fans have taken to social media to pay their respects as well as fellow members of the music community.
XXXTentacion first gained attention on the SoundCloud rap scene with his song ‘Look At Me!’ which eventually peaked at number 37 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts.
Despite the emergence of a number of shocking abuse allegations shortly after, his popularity continued to grow rapidly.
He went on to become one of hip-hop’s biggest stars in 2017 with his debut album ‘17’ earning 300,000 sales.
He released his follow-up album ‘?’ this year which debuted at number one on the Billboard album charts and sold 131,000 copies in its first week.
At his time of death, Mr Onfroy was awaiting trial on charges of battery, false imprisonment and witness tampering.
He was jailed late last year ahead of the trial for which he reportedly could have faced “decades in prison, if convicted,” but was later placed on house arrest and released earlier this year.
The public’s conflicting views towards Mr Onfroy were as apparent as ever following his death, with many flooding social media to question why a man accused of violently abusive and homophobic behaviours should be mourned or celebrated.
A recent investigation by the Miami New Times showed chilling testimonies of abuse from ex-girlfriend Geneva Ayala, who said he repeatedly beat up and threatened to kill her.
“His favourite thing was to just backhand my mouth,” Ms Ayala said.
“That always left welts inside my lips.”
She also claimed he would threaten suicide if she ever left him, and on one occasion, entered the room holding a barbecue fork and a wire barbecue brush.
“He told me to pick between the two because he was going to put one of them up my vagina,” Ms Ayala said.
Mr Onfroy’s death leaves a giant hole in those who were abused by him and watched his rise to stardom, painfully waiting for the day he was held accountable for his actions.
The overwhelming evidence against him will now remain as “allegations” and some fans will choose to deny or ignore the harsh realities hidden behind XXXTentacion’srap persona.
I have been a huge fan of XXXTentacion’s music since 2015, and was shocked and disgusted when the charges arose.
I felt guilty continuing to listen to his albums and even started avoided streaming services, so I would not be financially supporting him.
Mr Onfroy is the latest of many artists to reveal a monster behind the mask of their music, which sparks the age-old question of whether artists should be separated from their art.
All I do know is that if I decided to stop listening to XXXTentacion’s music altogether, I would also have to stop listening to the likes of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Chris Brown, among numerous others—all of whose careers were barely affected despite horrible acts being committed against women by them.
Perhaps the biggest reaction was when all of XXXTentacion’s music was removed from Spotify as part of a new “hateful conduct” policy.
But this was later withdrawn after artists such as Kendrick Lamar threatened to pull their music from the streaming platform.
Musicians often fail to be positive role models, and for artists such as XXXTentacion, their twisted attitudes and crazy lifestyles serve as a source of entertainment and intrigue for the listener.
The death of XXXTentacion has saddened me greatly, not because he was a role model, or I support his actions whatsoever, but because he is an artist who had an important and positive impact on my life.
This is the reality for millions of young fans his music about depression, suicide and self-love spoke to, whether it was a fable or not.
Mental illness serves as no excuse for any of the gut-wrenching acts he committed in a range of bloody scenes that paint the picture of Mr Onfroy’s troubled life.
Violent depictions of the same young man who at six years old tried to stab a man attacking his mother, and repeatedly beat kids up in school in an effort to gain her attention.
Music and allegations aside, I can’t help but feel remorseful about the death of a 20-year-old committed in broad daylight.
A loss that was not in the name of justice, but in an armed robbery from two young men caught up in a sea of violence much like the rapper’s own.
No matter the injustices, death is never a solution to the endless cycle of violence and abuse in our society.
Nor does it give his victims any sense of restoration or closure.
For many people XXXTentacion still had a positive influence on their life.
He should not be remembered as an “inspiration” or “hero” by anyone, and people mourning him should spare their thoughts equally for his victims who must live on with the trauma of his actions.
Those who have celebrated Mr Onfroy’s death are probably justified in showing no remorse for a man who inflicted horrific pain on others during his own life.
Yet rejoicing death does nothing but further feed the deeper issues that continue to create situations such as this.
The event is tragic on all fronts: a twisted man will never be held accountable for his actions, a young and talented 20-year-old will never get the chance to atone and use his influence for good, and millions of fans will never hear their favourite artist again.
Such fans may want to cling to XXXTentacion recent message of hope, in which he seemed to predict his own death.
“Worst comes to worst, I f**king die a tragic death or some s**t and I’m not able to see out dreams—I at least want to know that the kids perceived my message and were able to make something of themselves and able to take my message and use it and turn it into something positive.”