Who was XXXTentacion? The rapper shrouded in controversy

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

US Rapper XXXTentacion was fatally shot and killed in Florida on Monday, while visiting a motorcycle dealership in Miami.

The rising hip-hop sensation saw the likes of Kanye West pay respects to him, but his career, while promising, was often overshadowed by controversy including multiple allegations of domestic abuse.

He was awaiting trial on domestic abuse charges before he was killed.

Who was XXXTentacion?

XXXTentacion was born Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy on January 23, 1998 to Jamaican parents in Plantation, Florida.

At the age of six he found himself put into a youth programme for attempting to stab a man who had attacked his mother.

He was brought up predominately by his grandmother, foster carers and babysitters.

In middle school he found himself expelled permanently for continuously starting fights with other students.

His music career began in 2013 where he achieved swift success by uploading his music to SoundCloud. His first song was called Vice City, and many hailed him as one of a generation of 'SoundCloud rappers' - Lil Peep, who died last year after a prescription drug overdose, was also part of a new wave of rappers who mixed traditional sounds with raw, emotional lyrics.


His popularity continued to rise, but it didn't turn him away from a path of crime.

In 2014 he was sent to a youth detention center for a year on gun possession charges. While he was there it was alleged he beat a homosexual inmate, with Onfroy describing him as a "f****t" in a lengthy interview on a hip-hop podcast. In the same interview, he describes the incident in detail, including smearing the victim's blood onto his face.

In November 2015 he was charged with home invasion, robbery and aggravated battery, and in August 2016 he was arrested on those charges, and agreed to house arrest.

After being released from jail, he allegedly assaulted his then-girlfriend numerous times. In October, she discovered she was pregnant, and according to her testimony, the rapper threatened to kill her and the unborn baby and refused to allow her to go to hospital. She also said she was held in a room and had her phone taken away by friends of his.

That same month he was charged with aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation and false imprisonment of an ex-girlfriend, who launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for her legal costs.

The rapper was taken into pretrial custody and was held without bail in December 2017, only to be later released on house arrest later that month. He was released from house arrest on March of this year.

XXXTentacion and a friend at th BET Hip Hop Awards in 2017

Music career

Despite a string of convictions, Onfroy found chart success and global recognition with this 2017 debut album 17 and its follow-up ? released in 2018.

? reached number one on the Billboard charts, and sold 131,000 copies in its first week. 

Capitol Records offered him a deal in 2017, and it was reported at the time that some staff at the label opposed him being on the roster due to his crimes. 

His death sparked a debate on social media about the degree to which his upbringing contributed to his behaviour, and how much an artist's personal life should be separated from their art.

His death is still under investigation.