The untold truth of XXXTentacion

Jahseh Onfroy was the Miami rapper known as XXXTentacion, X, or Young Dagger D**k if you're nasty. After the Jamaican, Syrian, Indian, and Italian-American artist landed himself behind bars in a juvenile detention center, he had all the time in the world to perfect his rap flow, and all of his practice paid off. Following his release, he recorded and uploaded his tracks to the music streaming website SoundCloud, which he parlayed into a hit album and record deal. But his success was tragically short-lived. Just three months after XXXTentacion's album, ?, debuted at No.1, he died after being shot in an apparent robbery.   

His musical legacy now seems prophetic. His metal-inspired songs that are often dark and brooding tone. In "Everybody Dies in Their Nightmares," he raps, "Tired of feelin' like I'm trapped in my damn mind." Fans were clearly entranced by his emotional vulnerability and his striking appearance, which included colorful dreadlocks, face tattoos, and shaved eyebrows.

Though he died just as he seemingly had the music industry in the palm of his hands, his life and career were riddled with controversy. From a less than idyllic childhood to the criminal charges that threatened to impose on his freedom, this is the untold truth of XXXTentacion.

Killed in cold blood

Before we take a look at the often violent life of XXXTentacion, we'll shed some light on the violent way in which he tragically died. According to CBS News, the rapper was gunned down in his car by one of two male assailants as he left RIVA Motorsports in Deerfield Beach, Fla. The Broward County Sheriff's Department confirmed the rapper's death on Twitter, saying the alleged murderers fled the scene in "a dark-color SUV." As of this writing, both men are still at large, and there is a $3,000 reward being offered for information leading to their arrest.

Tributes to the 20-year-old rapper poured into social media immediately following news of his death. Though he had yet to achieve major mainstream success, fellow artist such as Big Sean, Travis Barker, and Kanye West expressed condolences. "Rest in peace," West tweeted. "I never told you how much you inspired me when you were here thank you for existing."

He fiercely guarded his private life

The embattled rapper and singer went to great lengths to keep most of his private information under wraps, and he did a good job of playing the elusive role … up until he gave a rare interview with No JumperBefore ditching his jacket and conducting the rest of the interview shirtless — because, why not? — he was asked to state his age. He hesitated and stumbled over his words for a brief second before responding, "I don't say my age."

Prior to the announcement of his death, which revealed his age at 20 years old, XXXTentacion's police report from a domestic violence charge, which we'll discuss later, confirmed he turned 19 in 2017, so the cat was essentially out of the bag. However, the "Look at Me!" artist had a good reason for trying to keep most of his private info hush-hush. "I don't say much about myself because I feel like everybody tries to judge me as far as knowledge-wise," he told No Jumper. "People try to use my age to determine my knowledge."

A childhood riddled with violence

XXXTentacion shed some light on his rough upbringing during his 2016 interview with No Jumper, showing a different side of himself that surprised even his die-hard fans. The rapper hesitated before answering most questions, especially when it came time to discuss his mom, who gave birth to him as a teenager. He said he was afraid his mother would get "hot" — or angered — by his forthright responses. "[My mom] was in situations where she couldn't take care of me," he said, revealing that raising a child was "her last priority." He said his mom "just wasn't in a very stable environment." He recalled a traumatizing moment when a man got physical with his mom, and a 6-year-old XXXTentacion "stabbed" him with a shard of glass and "bit his flesh out" to protect her.

Violence continued throughout his childhood. XXXTentacion said he was kicked out of middle school following a number of offenses, including beating a student's eye in, kicking a kid in the mouth for making fun of his mom, and fighting another student on the school bus. He eventually made the risky decision to drop out of school entirely, explaining his reasons in a video he shared with his fans.

He flip-flopped on a $6 million contract

A true overnight success story, the Florida rapper saw his life do a complete 180 in the blink of an eye. He went from perfecting his rhymes in a juvenile detention center, to uploading his tracks to SoundCloud, to becoming one of the most sought-after artists in the industry. Record executives were clamoring to sign him, and the lucky company who brought the rapper onto its roster turned out to be Capitol Music Group's indie subsidiary, Caroline, reported Billboard — though that deal didn't last long.

The "Save Me" artist reportedly accepted a deal that was worth an estimated $6 million, but before he could start spending his dough, he said he was "terminating" his contract in since-deleted Instagram posts. "If you can match my alleged previous contract, and add free international travel & free international stay I would be happy to be in business with you. I'm currently a free agent, well, I always was," he wrote to prospective companies.

His violent music video sparked major backlash

"Look at Me!" made ears perk up with grainy, distorted beats and lo-fi vocals that make the overall track sound raw and unfinished. The beat is more uptempo than some of his other solemn tracks, but the rapper stayed true to form by releasing a grim music video that made us clutch our pearls.

The since-deleted video depicted a "6-year-old [white] boy getting strung up by a noose with the rapper himself doing the deed," while a black child looked on, TMZ reported. Finding child actors to fill the roles proved difficult. "We had to delay the video because the mom that originally agreed and said okay but when she got there she didn't feel comfortable. We delayed for a week," the video's casting director, LaShawnna Stanley, told Fox News. "I called a lot of parents. It was a direct booking. No one was okay with their white child getting lynched." 

The imagery was way too heavy for many and was eventually pulled from YouTube … but not before racking up more than 5 million views.  

A lengthy rap sheet

XXXTentacion was charged with home invasion robbery and aggravated battery with a firearm in 2015. That same year, he was also arrested for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend. The alleged victim, who was reportedly pregnant at the time, claimed he "head-butted her, punched her, stomped on her, and put her in the bathtub, where he continued hitting and kicking her," Pitchfork reported. 

He pleaded not guilty to aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, and witness-tampering. His alleged victim reportedly requested to drop the charges in a signed statement obtained by TMZ, but prosecutors believed XXXTentacion had contacted her numerous times while he was behind bars and had coerced her into dropping the charges. He was eventually hauled back to jail in December 2017 and charged with 15 additional felonies for witness tampering, according to TMZ

A judge agreed to let XXXTentacion off home confinement in March 2018, so he could go on tour. Soon after, an old video resurfaced of him repeatedly punching an unidentified girl in the head. His lawyer told TMZ the video was taken "in jest," and the rapper later filed a lawsuit, claiming the girl and her family tried to extort him for $300,000 in exchange for keeping the footage under wraps.  

Did he really donate to charity?

In an apparent effort to curb some of the negative publicity that comes along with allegations of assaulting one's pregnant girlfriend, XXXTentacion became a bit of a philanthropist. His cause? Domestic violence prevention. According to Uproxx, who shared Instagram messages from the rapper, XXXTentacion first apologized to "every single woman I've ever disrespected or made feel violated," then pledged to give "over 100 thousand dollars" to unspecified "domestic violence prevention programs."

According to Complex, he never made good on his charitable promises. When attempting to confirm his donations, Complex was told by XXXTentatcion's reps that he "had donated to Women in Distress of Broward County and others," but they offered no dollar amount or time frame for when the alleged donation occurred. The Women in Distress of Broward County marketing and communications manager was asked about the donation. "Unfortunately, I can't comment," the manager told Complex.

Nothing says 'welcome home' like a riot

After getting released from jail and placed on probation for armed home invasion robbery and battery charges, XXXTentacion decided to put on a surprise show in Miami in April 2017 to thank his fans for sticking by his side. What followed next can only be described as a riot. Footage from his post-jail performance shows a shirtless XXXTentacion riling up his loyal fans. Law enforcement then steps in to disperse the crowd, telling everyone to scram. 

The incident had the potential to turn into a full-blown melee, but, in the end, the rapper did the right thing by canceling the impromptu show before he even got the chance to hit the stage. He even made sure to stick his head out of his awaiting vehicle and pose for pictures with fans before skirting off down a dark street, so it wasn't a complete waste of time. Crisis averted.

He laid the smackdown on his fans

XXXTentacion was involved in more than a few scuffles with his fans, including an assault that occurred at the 2017 Rolling Loud Festival. While the rapper crowd-surfed, a rowdy fan found out the hard way that it's never a good idea to go up against a man that's armed with a microphone.

XXXTentacion later released a statement via his Instagram Stories about the incident (via XXL). "I'm just letting everyone know ahead of time that I punched someone in their face today because I was assaulted while I was performing," he said. "So before anybody sees the video and makes an assumption, I'm gonna beat everyone to it and let everyone know. Yo, I ended up punching someone because they punched me in my s**t."

That wasn't the only time things got brutal at one of his shows. A video posted to social media displayed a fan running up on stage mid-performance and clocking him in the face, and another video showed the rapper punching a fan square in the nose. 

He allegedly turned a new, non-violent leaf

In an extremely rare interview with the Miami New Times, XXXTentacion got remarkably candid about his past, including opening up about his painful childhood and abandonment by his birth mother. However, he "declined" to discuss an anecdote he relayed in the aforementioned No Jumper interview in which he described how he attempted to kill his cellmate in juvenile prison.

After claiming he observed behavior that he later referred to as "some gay s**t," the rapper reportedly attacked his cellmate, beating his head against a concrete slab until guards responded to his victim's screams. "I've got his blood all over my hands, all of my chest, literally … I was going crazy," XXXTentacion told No Jumper of the aftermath of the assault. When asked by the Miami New Times to reflect on the incident two years later, XXXTentacion said that's no longer the person he is, describing himself as "really, really nice."

He knew he was on a dark path

Having penned tracks like "NUMB," "I Don't Wanna Do This Anymore," "Depression & Obsession," and "Dead Inside," it's clear that XXXTentacion was prone to bouts of melancholy. While these dark emotions served as a creative muse for the eclectic artist, they also seemed to fuel a preoccupation with his own death.

In August 2017, he posted and deleted a short video clip to Instagram in which he appeared to hang himself from a tree. According to HipHopDx, XXXTentacion quickly returned to the social media site to calm his understandably freaked out fans. He claimed the scene was "a piece of the music video" that he was trying to preview. He also claimed that he would never joke around about suicide because "I had a girl kill herself in my f***in' hotel room."

Several months later, the rapper posted another chilling and since-deleted video to social media that was re-uploaded by others. In that vid, he envisioned a worst case scenario in which he will "die a tragic death or some s**t" and be unable to "see out his dreams." He said he hoped "the kids perceived my message and were able to make something of themselves and able to take my message and use it and turn it into something positive. And to at least have a good life."

Was it over before it began?

Days after announcing that his reported $6 million record deal had gone belly up, the rapper appeared ready to throw in the towel and end his stint in the music biz once and for all. "Sad to announce I will not be making or releasing any music," XXXTentacion wrote on his Instagram account (via XXL). "I am tired of being mentally abused for trying to help people, I am tired of the hate, I'm done."

His fans were disappointed … but not for long. XXXTentacion seemed to have a change of heart, because almost five months after threatening an early retirement he dropped the chart-topping album, ?.

Sadly, ? would be the last release from the young rapper while he was still alive, but there may be more music to come. In since-deleted Instagram posts from April 2018 (via XXL), XXXTentacion teased two more albums he was ready to release, called Skins and Bad Vibes Forever. With the fledgling MC's rabid fan base only just starting to get a taste of what he had to offer, posthumous releases of new music could still be on the table.