XXXTentacion has died. According to TMZ, the rapper was shot by unidentified gunmen while he was shopping for motorcycles in Florida. Witnesses told local police that the gunman took a Louis Vuitton bag from X’s car, and that the two suspects were black males wearing hoodies and a red mask.
X, born Jahseh Onfroy, was a controversial figure for much of his recording career. He was charged with aggravated battery and false imprisonment of his ex-girlfriend Geneva Ayala shortly before his breakout single, “Look At Me!” became a Top 40 Hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Look At Me!”
The music video for the song drew criticism, as it depicted a white child being hanged by X as another black child observed. Watch it above. The video also includes the song “Riot”. If you want to hear the full version of “Look At Me!” click here.
Despite the divisiveness of the video, however, X’s unique rap flow made him popular within the trap scene, and several mainstream artists borrowed the flow for their own music. X famously called Drake out for biting his style on the 2017 song “KMT“, tweeting: “I’m not the first n**ga he bit, nor will I be the last. Drake a p**sy n**ga money don’t buy you respect.” The tweet has since been deleted.
“XXL Freshman Freestyle”
After a popular string of Soundcloud tracks, the most notable of which is “I Don’t Wanna Do This Anymore”, X was chosen for 2017’s XXL Freshman List and released his debut studio album, 17. Watch his XXL Freshman Freestyle above.
The album saw the rapper ditch the more trap-influenced sound of his previous hits for a more melancholy, reflective sound, and incorporated elements of emo, indie rock, and lo-fi music.
“I Don’t Wanna Do This Anymore”
The lyrical content of the album focused on feelings of depression and suicide, and contained a song called “Ayala”, in reference to his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child.
“If you listen to me to get hype or to not think, don’t buy this album, this one is for the depression, for the depressed ones, for the lost ones”, he told Pigeons & Planes. “It’s my first body of work, first official album release, and the first time I’ve put my all into a project, I mean it when I say this project is absolutely amazing.”
17 earned positive reviews from critics, despite X’s controversial reputation, and the single “Jocelyn Flores” was another Top 40 hit. 17 was nominated for a Billboard Music Award for Top R&B Album.
X released his fifth and final EP A Ghetto Christmas Carol in December 2017. The project didn’t chart especially high, but was considered a success among his established fanbase.
X released his second and final studio album ? in 2018. The album included guest appearances from PnB Rock, Travis Barker, and Joey Badass, and was supported by two singles: “Sad!” and “Changes”. The latter of which peaked at #37 on the Billboard Hot 100, and remains X’s highest-charting song.
When asked about the title of the album, X said: ” “This albums not about words, it’s about feelings… it’ll be very hard to understand, but very easy to listen to… it’s not what you’re expecting, even if you feel like you understand my music, be prepared to not understand this music.”
The album also included the song “Hope”, which was dedicated to the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. X released the song early on Soundcloud with a note that read: “I could never say I understand how you all are feeling, nor can I find the right words to say to you, but I do want you all to know, you are not alone. The words at the end of this song are dedicated to you, Douglas High. Sincerely, XXX.”
? earned generally positive reviews like its predecessor, with critics deriding the content and jumbled structure of the songwriting, but praising the sonic experimentation and the intimate feel of the album.
There isn’t much information available on X’s third studio album, reportedly titled Skins, or how close it was to completion before his death. In April, X posted a video of himself on his Instagram story, writing, “I’m just getting started, next album will be done very soon.”
Diplo revealed that he and Skrillex were going to handle some of the production, and that they were planning on getting together in Los Angeles sometime this week.
“He texted me this weekend, it was one of his goals to get me & Skrillex to finish his next album”, Diplo wrote on Instagram, “I Invited him to LA this week. I was wondering if he was gonna come.”