By JOSEPH QUESADA
The death of 20 year old rapper, Xxxtentacion, shakes the music community to its core.
The afternoon of June 18, 2018 saw the cold blooded murder of Jahseh Onfroy, better known by his stage name Xxxtentacion, with abbreviations XXX, Tentacion, or simply X. Onfroy was leaving an auto dealership in South Florida when a group of men approached his car and shot him in the chest, killing him instantly. According to Billboard, the resulting death was part of an attempted robbery; with 4 men later being charged for the murder of Onfroy.
The news of Xxxtentacion, death shocked and confused fans and critics alike. Heartbroken listeners flocked to social media to grieve, console, and find some sort of absolution for the sudden occurrence of his death. His most recent album entitled “?,” which debuted at #1 on music charts worldwide, skyrocketed back to the top of the charts the very same day of his death. A memorial, a public funeral and a charity event were all held following the tragic event, with thousands of fans coming out to show their love and admiration of the now deceased rapper. Xxxtentacion was a famed artist, whose fans continue to mourn the death of him.
Xxxtentacion was a pioneer in the phenomenon known as Soundcloud rappers: an emerging group of underground hip hop artists, who have quickly climbed to the top standard of hip hop by utilizing mumble lyrics, trap beats, tattoos, drug use, bizarre hair styles, uncommon fashion styles and an overall sense of trendiness unique to themselves. Xxxtentacion is one of the originating artists to follow the design of a “SoundCloud Rapper” dating back to his early days of music in 2014.
Xxxtentacion is a product of the Broward County, South Florida area, which is now known for the production of major hip hop artists like himself, including Ski Mask the Slump God, Kodak Black, and other lesser known artists. Xxxtentacion’s early work includes his hit song “Vice City,” as well as a few Ep’s that solidified his standpoint in the music world. Xxxtentacion enjoyed a good fortuned start before landing himself with jail time on charges of home invasion and aggravated battery in early 2015. After a short time behind bars, Xxxtentacion recovered with the release of possibly his most well known song entitled “Look At Me”, debuting on the Billboard top 100 chart at 95. For the second time, Xxxtentacion found himself behind bars in 2016 for charges of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Just as Tentacion was released for the second time, new allegations of domestic and sexual abuse towards his ex-girlfriend began to surface. This is when Xxxtentacions career really began to take off.
Following a dramatic uprise of fame in late 2016 and early 2017, Xxxtentacion began to release a plethora of music, including a small collection of songs on his self-titled mixtape: Revenge. This, along with further releases on soundcloud and collaborations with other well known artists, prompted Xxxtentacion to launch his first US tour. Shortly into his travels, however, Xxxtentacion was rushed on stage by a crazed fan during a San Diego show and knocked out, causing him to cancel the remainder of his tour. This sent Tentacion into a downward spiral, concealing the artist from social media and the public eye. When he emerged, his personality and overall sense of artistry had taken a dramatic turn, leaving many of his previous fans to question their loyalty to him. Some of the substantial changes he had made impacted traits such as his fashion, production style of music, and his social media presence, all of which had come as a complete rearrangement of his entire aura.
The first music to come out of Xxxtentacion new personality was his first major album entitled “17.” Released in August of 2017, this album received positive feedback from the public, including mainstream audiences which he had not reached before. Charity events, free concerts, public appearances and a very positive social media presence began to surface from Xxxtentacion, highlighting his new strides towards community outreach, which directly contradicted his old ways.
As Xxxtentacion place in the music industry continued to evolve, so did the public opinion of the once controversial rapper. The next major project to come from him was his most popular collection of music simply titled “?.” This album contains a multitude of tracks ranging far and wide across his artistic spectrum, offering songs that fit to audiences of all kinds. This album was met with success at many levels, debuting at #1 on music charts worldwide.
As Xxxtentacion finally began to embrace his identity as a musician, an artist, and simply as a person, tragedy struck as he was tragically murdered three short months after the very successful release of his most recent album. His death came as a complete shock to fans, critics, and the music industry. As controversially challenged and culturally unaccepted as Xxxtentacion once was, his true artistry and contributions to the hip hop community make him an essential piece in modern rap and music as a whole.