The "Look at Me!" rapper was only 20 years old. His short life was full of controversy, criminal allegations and hardship. In the wake of his death, fans and detractors are taking a closer look at how he lived to understand the cycle of violence and belief he was caught in.
XXXTentacion, whose real name is Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, was born and raised in Florida. He has had multiple run-ins with law enforcement, countless accusations of violence and numerous massive hits as a rap artist. He rose to fame practically overnight, and came to resent it almost as fast. The narrative of his life is dense and hard to follow. But Monday, it ended.
Here's a look at the life of XXXTentacion.
XXXTentacion grew up in South Florida. In an interview on the No Jumper podcast later in life, he said that his mom "couldn't take care of" him. He described his early years as violent from the beginning, revealing that he had tried to stab a man who was "messing" with his mom when he was only 6 year old. XXXTentacion was expelled from middle school for fighting.prevnext
XXXTentacion family frustration may have stemmed from a troubled relationship with his mother, Cleopatra Bernard. He admitted to picking fights with other students to get her attention. "I chased her," he told the Miami New Times. "I used to beat kids at school just to get her to talk to me, yell at me." He was expelled from middle school for fighting, moved into to a residential program for troubled youth then mostly lived with his grandmother after he turned 12 in a gated community. "My grandma really feels like my mom," he said. "My mom almost feels like more of a sister."prevnext
XXXTentacion developed a love of music in his early teenage years. He said that he was interested in hard rock and nu-metal as well as hip hop, and wanted to learn an instrument. Hoping to encourage this outlet, his aunt convinced him to join choir at school and at church, though he was eventually ejected from the school chorus for fighting with a classmate.prevnext
TIRED OF LOVE BEING THE REASON I FEEL PAIN— MAKE OUT HILL - XXX (@xxxtentacion) December 9, 2017
XXXTentacion dropped out of Piper High School in 10th grade. He described his time there as depressive and paranoid. He also said that he posted one song online at the time, though it has never been found by his fans.prevnext
In 2013 XXXTentacion faced a gun possession charge. He spent nine months in a juvenile-detention center, where he met another young rapper named Ski Mask the Slump God. The two became lifelong friends and collaborators. In the No Jumper interview, he also admitted to beating up a cellmate who was homosexual, calling him "suspicious" and referring to him with hate speech.prevnext
In March of 2014 XXXTentacion posted his first song on SoundCloud — the platform that would later propel him to fame. The song was called "Vice City," and it was followed by an EP called Heartbreak Hotel nearly a year later.
By the end of 2015, he released four more EPs on soundcloud, two of which were collaborations with Ski Mask the Slump God. Most of those have since been deleted from SoundCloud. In November of that year, XXXTentacion was charged for home invasion, robbery and aggravated battery.prevnext
"Look at Me!"
Warning: this video contains graphic and disturbing content.
On New Year's Eve 2015, XXXTentacion uploaded "Look at Me!" on SoundCloud. It did not happen right away, but eventually that song would spark his entire career.prevnext
No Jumper Podcast
XXXTentacion shared many details of his life in a long-form interview on the No Jumper podcast, which came out in April of 2016.prevnext
In May of 2016, XXXTentacion began seeing a a girl who went on to become his long-term girlfriend. However, by the end of that month he had begun to exhibit signs of domestic violence, according to testimony later obtained by Pitchfork. That summer, the two moved in together in Orlando as the violence escalated.
On Sep. 16, the rapper was put on house arrest for his 2015 robbery, and his assaults on his girlfriend got even worse. In October, she reportedly discovered that she was pregnant, and after brutally beating her, XXXTentacion allegedly held his girlfriend against her will in a strange apartment, where they took her phone. The woman finally escaped and called police.
XXXTentacion was arrested the same day and charged with aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, false imprisonment and witness tampering.prevnext
Preview of Drake's new song vs. XXXTENTACION's "Look At Me" pic.twitter.com/Z4rhcwIw1b— Pigeons & Planes (@PigsAndPlans) January 29, 2017
Amidst his endless legal entanglements, XXXTentacion may have inspired a new song by rapper Drake. In January of 2017, Drake previewed a new song, and fans accused him of ripping off "Look at Me!" The controversy propelled XXXtentacion's song into the Billboard Hot 100, while it forced Drake to acknowledge the young rapper.
“The other day, I dropped this song with Giggs and I’m seeing all this s— on my IG under some random picture of people being like, ‘F— you, you took this kid’s flow’ or whatever," Drake said in a February interview on OVO Sound radio. "I’m like, ‘What’s happening to me right now?’ So I’m trying to read and figure out who they’re talking about.”
XXXTentacion didn't respond until the end of March, when he gave an interview on Miami's 103.5 The Beat.
“He is not a man," he said of Drake. "I think he’s a b—, that’s a b— move.”prevnext
In August of 2017, XXXTentacion's first full-length album was released by Empire Distribution. Titled simply 17, it debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, despite the hihgly publicized controversy surrounding the rapper's assault charges. Many in the hip hop community tried to distance themselves from XXXTentacion, hoping to end the genre's apparent acceptance of violence against women.
At the same time, 17 was endorsed by some surprising celebrity faces, including Kendrick Lamar and Danny Brown.prevnext
Attempts to Repair Image
As his fame grew, XXXTentacion seemed to try and repair his public image so as not to be perceived as an abuser. His trial for domestic abuse was postponed twice. In October, he announced through his Instagram story that he would donate more than $100,000 to domestic violence prevention causes.
In November, he announced his intention to host an "anti-rape" event at the Art Basel in Miami. Neither the event nor his promised donation ever came to fruition.
In January of 2018, he posted a video blog showing himself bringing clothes and video games to a foster home.prevnext
do not underestimate me— MAKE OUT HILL - XXX (@xxxtentacion) February 10, 2018
In December, XXXTentacion was placed on arrested ahead of his trial for allegedly abusing his girlfriend. He was denied bail and hit with seven new charges, which would have amounted to decades in prison if he had been convicted, according to a report by TMZ.
Just five days later, the rapper was released from prison to await his trial on house arrest instead.
It was during this time that XXXTentacion reportedly recorded his second album, ?, which was released on March 16. It debuted at number one on the Billboard album chart.
Later that week, his lawyer reportedly convinced the court to release XXXTentacion from house arrest so that he could make a living touring the new material, saying that his album sales weren't enough to sustain him and he needed to perform like to "stay afloat."prevnext
XXXTentacion was shot in Deerfield Beach, Florida on Monday, June 18. He was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead. The embattled rapper was at a motorcycle dealership, according to a report by TMZ, when two masked assailants went after him. The 20-year-old was just leaving the establishment. Witnesses said the attackers stole a bag from XXXTentacion's car as well. In the aftermath of his passing, hip hop fans and detractors were forced to consider how to mourn such a controversial figure.prev