XXXTentacion receives praise despite violent past

By Saketh Vasamsetti, Columnist

Early 2017 saw the release of “Look At Me!,” XXXTentacion’s first official single that became one of the biggest songs of the entire year. But what followed the song’s enormous success was not just the emergence of a new face of rap/hip-hop, but a rapidly growing cult following of one the most controversial music artists of all time.

Jahseh Onfroy, more commonly known by his stage name XXXTentacion, blew into the music scene with his unorthodox style and wild persona. His music carried a level of aggression that was described by many as a “heavy metal” twist on rap/hip-hop.

This past summer, Onfroy was selected to be a part of the XXL Freshman Class, a group of rap and hip-hop artists who are considered to have the most potential for the upcoming year.

With even more exposure, Onfroy’s fan base grew larger and more loyal. But the question was whether his fans really loved his music, or if they only followed him for the “meme.”

It has become popular in today’s youth culture to begin fandoms and followings simply because it satisfies the meme culture that dominates social media. Onfroy’s personality, as well as his music, fit into that culture, providing the perfect platform for him to reach new heights in the music industry.

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Many argue that Onfroy doesn’t deserve the success due to the strong sexist and aggressive nature of his music. In July 2016, Onfroy was arrested for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon but was released after posting bail. Shortly after, Onfroy was arrested yet again for aggravated battery against a pregnant woman.

One would think that this would be the end of his career, yet Onfroy’s arrest simply boosted his image.

For a frame of reference, Onfroy has over 12 million monthly listeners on Spotify and his profile picture is the mug shot from his arrest.

Rap and hip-hop genres have always been surrounded by a stigma of violence and sexism, but in recent times those themes have become unpopular — that is, until Onfroy came into the scene.

This past weekend uncovered yet another controversy surrounding Onfroy and his troubled past of assault. Pitchfork Media Inc., one of the largest music media sources, published an article regarding the woman’s detailed testimony of Onfroy’s assault last year.

It was reported to be a 142-page transcript explaining everything the woman was put through while in a violent relationship with the rapper.

According to Pitchfork, on one occasion the woman reported that Onfroy told her to pick between a “barbecue pitchfork” and a “barbecue cleaner” because Onfroy was going to use it on her. Although there was no penetration reported, the sheer thought of that is enough to reveal Onfroy’s sadistic nature.

Report after report from the woman revealed countless occasions when Onfroy physically and mentally abused her. While there is no evidence that Onfroy did do these things, given his past violent convictions, it proves he isn’t the right person to be worshiping on social media.

To aid all of the allegations, Onfroy released a series of Instagram stories where he denied all claims of him being a “domestic abuser,” but he did so in possibly the worst way: by threatening to “domestically abuse” his accuser’s sisters.

Although the trial is still in process, Onfroy could potentially resume the rest of his music career scot-free if his case is dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

But he carries a level of immaturity and lack of concern that is not aligned with the level of influence he has over his millions of fans.

It is impossible to change the way people think or how they express themselves. But it’s the responsibility of the people to determine what is morally correct and supporting such a deplorable person only perpetuates this kind of violent behavior.

Saketh is a sophomore in DGS.

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