Music & Nightlife

Young fans mourn XXXTentacion, but many judge slain rapper by his violent past

Fans gather at a makeshift memorial outside the XXXTentacion Funeral & Fan Memorial at BB&T Center on June 27 in Sunrise.
Fans gather at a makeshift memorial outside the XXXTentacion Funeral & Fan Memorial at BB&T Center on June 27 in Sunrise. Getty Images

The Broward slaying of rapper XXXTentacion a month ago has left many young fans wondering whether to mourn or condemn the 20-year-old rising star.

XXXTentacion, born Jahseh Onfroy, was fatally shot June 18 in an apparent armed robbery. Two young Broward men, Michael Boatwright and Dedrick Williams, have been charged with murdering XXXTentacion. Detectives are seeking a third man, Robert Allen, described as a person of interest in the case.

Rapper XXXTentacion, in an undated mugshot released by the Miami-Dade Corrections. AP

In his short life, XXXTentacion had a checkered past including three arrests and allegations of beating his pregnant girlfriend. While in a juvenile detention center, he almost killed his cellmate, saying he feared the fellow prisoner was gay and might rape him.

Until recently, Onfroy had been under house arrest, following the accusations by his girlfriend, which led to charges including domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, witness tampering and witness harassment.

And in May, Spotify said it would stop promoting or recommending music by artists whose content or conduct it deemed offensive. Onfroy was one of them.

After XXXTentacion’s death, young fans took to social media — confused how to remember the rapper.

“His music, what I appreciated from it, is that he was able to separate the lifestyle that he went through and tried to leave a positive outcome for the people that were listening to him,” said Jandrice Nacier, 19, of Kendall. “He got me into other people in the Miami scene. His passing is like a leader going down.”

For many other fans, however, XXXTentacion’s violent and destructive past has made them rethink whether to mourn him.

“I did not feel any kind of desire to keep on rooting for him,” said Ivanna Rodriguez, 19, of Miami Gardens. “I feel like his death is tragic for the situation, which is a black man killed by gun violence, but I understand how terrible the 20 years of his life were and how many people he hurt and how offensive his career was.

Rapper Denzel Curry hugs a fan outside the BB&T Center before the memorial service for fellow slain rapper XXXTentacion on June 27 in Sunrise. Daniel A. Varela

“More than good, it was bad. So, I don’t personally rejoice in his death, but I understand how much tranquility it brings to victims of abuse.”

XXXTentacion’s ability to give voice to the voiceless is why many fans continue to defend him. They believe that because he died so young, he could’ve turned his life around positively.

“I understand that he had a very, very bad history, but within the last year he was changing himself and trying to literally kill his past self. Trying to kill his violent self and make up for all of it — and of course you can,’ ” said Ishmael Moreia, 19, of Kendall. “You could never make up for all the things you did in the past. But, the fact that he was angry at himself and wanted to change and wanted to prove to people that he was changing and then he got murdered; so, he was never able to clean his name completely, which was very frustrating to me.”

Said Leismary Davis, 19, of Doral:

“I know it’s not fair to just dismiss of any potential that he could’ve had, but unfortunately he’s dead. We cannot say what he would’ve done in the future, we can only see what he did with his time while he was on earth.

“Why celebrate things he could’ve done in the future. We should look at the life he led, as a whole.”