By JOSEPH QUESADA
The death of the controversial rapper, XXXTentacion, came as a shock to the hip-hop and music community as a whole.
The newly famed rapper was shot and killed outside of an auto dealership in South Florida on June 20, 2018. XXXTentacion was relatively new to the music scene, gaining and solidifying much of his fame in the past two years. The rapper ranged in genres from trap to emo music, with many in between. The rapper was a pioneer in the uprise of now popular artists known as Soundcloud rappers, who have risen to the top of hip-hop charts in the last 2-3 years.
XXXTentacions music career began in 2014, with the release of his first ever song, “Vice City.” This track offers a very raw and uncut beat with a desolate and somewhat contemplative lyric flow that perfectly showcases a vintage example of his philosophically charged rhyme style. His early works, such as “Ice Hotel EP” and “The Fall EP,” gained moderate attention, providing the groundwork for his future career. 2015 saw the release of possibly his most famed song, “Look at me.” This song is an exemplary showcase of the troubled artist’s early music, with lyrics that were just as inappropriately driven as the artist himself. It features a loud trap beat which is perfectly sampled to deliver XXXTentacions high-pitched screaming lyrics, speaking of a troubled relationship, drugs, violence, and anger. Not only was this song a product of the artist himself but came as a product of the genre and field of his peers, proving itself as a staple of the time period that it came from.
XXXTentacion gained much controversy as he faced prison time and sexual assault allegations in conjunction with his style of music. While he had a sizable fan base, he was culturally unaccepted by many people ranging from parents to politicians due to his raw edginess and hugely inappropriate music. His music was seen as grotesque and unsuitable for listening, which made his advance towards mainstream categories unreachable.
The apex of his old ways came when he was knocked out on stage by a crazed fan at a concert in San Diego in 2017. After this incident, XXXTentacion took a long break from the spotlight and resided in solitude away from any and all publicity. When he returned, the once ill-advised rapper had undergone a complete rearrangement of his personality and seemed to be an entirely new person. This was not received well by the public, especially his long-lasting fan base. Previously known for his edgy craziness, the rapper was now seen to be calm and reserved, promoting peace over violence and love rather than hate. In late 2017, his first collection of music to come from his recently altered personality was his album entitled “17.” This album was set to the tone of a heartbreak, delivering soothing melodies and echoing the voice of pain and suffering through original lyricism, masterfully produced by XXXTentacion and his team of production agents. This album gained mainstream publicity which came to the surprise of many and was well received by mainstream audiences, which he had not delivered to before.
As his artistry continued to evolve, so did public perception of the once controversial artist. XXXTentacion began to enjoy public bliss and acceptance, which was something that he had not received before. His last project to be produced was his self-titled album “?.” This album contained a highly diversified orientation of tracks, touching on almost all of the genres that he had delivered in his previous music dating back to 2014. XXXTentacion included mainstream pop on tracks, “Sad and Moonlight,” to a lyrical masterpiece on “Infinity 888” and switching over to a heavy metal on “Pain = Best friend”. XXXTentacion even offers a tribute to the victims of the Florida school massacre on his song entitled “Hope.” All in all, this album featured an arrangement of tracks that the rapper had never delivered before, offering songs that fit genres and audiences of all kind.
When he was shot and killed in June, rapper XXXTentacion was grieved and mourned by music fans of all types. The artist’s ability to completely transform the public perception of himself in such a short time showed his true artistry and the complexity of his character. From a troubled rapper traveling in and out of prison to a pop culture figure who held charity events and produced positivity through his music, XXXTentacion was truly a highly diversified artist who was able to change his troubled past and lead himself towards new beginnings.