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Legacy is a complex question after death of XXXTentacion

Jun. 23, 2018
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“Thanks for inspiring me,” music producer Diplo tweeted, accompanied by an image of him and a friend. 

“I’m sure his victims share your sentiment,” responded Twitter user @Uncle_Worry.

They are talking about Florida rapper XXXTentacion, who died in an apparent shooting on Monday. Named Jahseh Onfroy, the 20-year-old has been receiving a lot of post-mortem praise for his musical contributions from other big names in music. But to some, his failure to pay for crimes cancels out his legacy in music. 

XXXTentacion was a pioneer of the “Soundcloud rap” sound and style, and by far one of the most commercially successful. His sophomore album ? debuted at number one on Billboard’s album chart. He was also awaiting trial for charges made against him in late 2016, namely the aggravated assault of a pregnant woman and witness-tampering. The pregnant woman in question is his ex-girlfriend, who told The Miami New Times, “His favorite thing was to just backhand my mouth.” He had also recently been kicked off of Spotify and dropped by his record label. 

The internet is divided trying to reconcile these two parts of Onfroy. Hundreds gathered to pay tribute to “X” near the site of his shooting Monday night, including the deceased’s mother, Cleopatra Bernard. Those who knew Onfroy only described him as a good guy; friend Fernando Yurkin told The Florida Sun Sentinel, “[Onfroy], if you followed him he was all about positivity, spreading love, inspirationthat's what I got from him, and I think everybody should get that from him, regardless of what happened in the past.” Defenders are quick to point out the difficulties of Onfroy’s childhood, and his charity efforts in recent years. 

Others still feel, though, that praising Onfroy is too much in light of all his mistakes. Roger Gengo, who runs Soundcloud rap website MaskedGorilla, never felt quite right about “X."

“It was always this internal struggle for me—he’s so popular and shedding light on this scene, but he’s been accused of these terrible things,” he told The New York Times. 

Conflicted, frustrated, and confused, justice will never be fully served for Onfroy’s victims. But as Gengo points out, “Wanting somebody to be held accountable for their actions doesn’t mean you want them to be killed in the street.”