How do you mourn an abuser?: Rapper XXXtentacion killed outside motorcycle dealership in Florida
South Florida rapper XXXtentacion was shot and killed outside of a motorcycle dealership in an apparent robbery, per reporting from the Daily Beast and other media accounts. Perhaps equally known for his incredible capacity for violence, especially towards women, as he was known for his introspective and dark music, the rapper leaves behind a tangled legacy.
Born Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy to a mother who by most accounts was occupied by things other than raising Onfroy, the 20 year old never really had much of a chance at normalcy. The trauma he both endured and created made him into a uniquely American kind of rap star.
As reported by Tarpley Hitt of the Miami New Times: “Though his fame grew, Onfroy’s reputation soured. After he appeared in the XXL list, many publications criticized the magazine. ‘XXXTentacion should not be on this cover,’ Tom Breihan wrote in a June article on Stereogum, a music website. ‘We should not continue to make him famous.’ The same month, the Outline, another website, published the article ‘Do Not Co-Sign XXXTentacion.’ In September 2017, Pitchfork published new details of [his ex-girlfriend’s] alleged abuse, prompting more publications to pull back from covering him.”
But XXXTentacion earned the backing of Top Dawg, the label of Kendrick Lamar. When Spotify rolled out a hateful conduct policy banning certain artists including the rapper after receiving a letter from Time’s Up’s Women of Color committee a few months ago, the label pushed back, and the policy was ultimately reversed. By this time, the violent exploits of Onfroy were on full display in view of the public, thanks to the release of the deposition which in the case regarding his abuse of ex-girlfriend, Geneva Ayala.
There is a bewildering sanitization of a person’s life that occurs when they die, and even more often, when violent men die in violent ways. Celebrities poured in their condolences and Jidenna likened him to the Detroit Red incarnation of Malcolm X, a comparison that earned him plenty of criticism.
No matter what we take from Onfroy’s rampant violence against women and gay men, or his meteoric rise despite these proclivities towards violence, one thing is certain: Onfroy is a very American figure.