XXXTentacion: Up and Coming Star or Dangerous Criminal?

Photo courtesy of XXL Magazine

Florida rapper, born Jahseh D. Onfroy, but more commonly known by the name “XXXTentacion” (pronounced “X-X-X-tentación”), has recently transitioned from Soundcloud obscurity to mainstream, with his up and coming hit “Look at Me!”. “Look at Me!” was released on Soundcloud back in late 2015, but has surged in popularity within the past months when famed rapper, Drake, premiered a new song that many claimed sounded like a rip off of XXXTentacion’s song. The song skyrocketed, gaining a spot on the Billboard Hot 100, with rappers such as A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert and Danny Brown publicly stating their love for the song and XXXTentacion’s music. Even before the release of “Look at Me!” XXXTentacion had begun to grow a cult fanbase, which is continuing to grow with his new surge in fame.

XXXTentacion has stirred plenty of controversy recently. With “Look at Me!” quickly gaining popularity, many have openly shown disapproval with his vile and offensive lyrics. The song’s aggressive and violent verses, with its distorted beat have rubbed many listeners the wrong way. Though, it’s not surprising he is releasing this type of music. XXXTentacion in the past years has been in trouble with the law many times for violating house arrest, armed home invasion, robbery and aggravated battery with a firearm. But most recently, in October of 2016, XXXTentacion made headlines after allegedly beating up his pregnant girlfriend, which garnered him a slew of new charges. These newest charges have put XXXTentacion behind bars, with a court date still pending.

Although many argue that we must separate the art from the artist, it can be a difficult task in cases like this. In XXXTentacion’s “No Jumper” interview on YouTube, the rapper spoke out about the violence he has experienced. He talked about his childhood and how he felt neglected, which led to him being violent. As a teenager he had been kicked out of school, and even been to juvenile detention for over a year. Although this violent side of XXXTentacion has caused outrage and hate against the rapper, his loyal fans still remain. Many of his fans describe him and his music as “relatable” and “truthful”. His rise to fame has even birthed the #FreeX movement, in which fans insist he should be freed from jail.

Musically, XXXTentacion has released many distorted trap songs in a similar vein as “Look at Me!”, but claims he likes to “dabble in other genres” besides rap, and this is easy to see based off his Soundcloud. His songs range from his typical rap songs to even rock and folk tunes. He’s stated before that his dream collaborations are with rock band Kings of Leon and pop singer Lorde. Recently, his rap songs are what have gained him lots of new fans and success, with his Soundcloud followers increasing by an astonishing 300,000+ users in the past year.

No matter what your opinion on XXXTentacion is, it’s easy to see that he is quite a polarizing figure in the music world today. Many argue that his fame will be short lived and he is yet another rapper who will be forgotten behind bars. Only time will tell the limit of XXXTentacion’s fame and career as a musician.

By Liam Katz

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