I was not, am not, and will probably never be a fan of XXXTentacion.
But even though I'm not a fan, I am still shaken by his death because of the senselessness behind it and the brutal, terrifying wake-up call that it prompted. Almost as surprising was the reaction to his death, both from celebrities and common folk, which further proved to me how insincere people can be.
The "Look At Me!" rapper was gunned down on Monday, June 18th in Florida, in what was allegedly a robbery. Reportedly shot in the neck, X died instantly... And that's the most horrifying part, that in the blink of an eye, he lost everything. If we ever needed a reminder of the brevity of life, here it is. So many of us forget that tomorrow is not promised. Instead, we spend the majority of our lives worrying about tomorrow's challenges and preparing for tomorrow's obstacles, rather than living in the moment and enjoying the time we have right now. It's terrifying, but absolutely necessary, to understand that one minute you can be living your life normally and then the next minute it can be cruelly stolen from you. Waste no time, because you're never sure how much time you have left.
The other upsetting part behind X's death is how it happened: at the hands of another black man. I swear, sometimes it seems like black people only want to kill each other — not white supremacy, not colorism, not toxic masculinity and homophobia, not dangerous ideals and values. Nope, just each other. I always side-eye people that use black-on-black crime as a deflection from the very real and problematic injustices Blacks face in the U.S. (and honestly, the fact this term exists is in and of itself a deflection, but that's a story for another day), but sometimes I really have to stop and think whether or not they have a point.
Why is it that we feel so emboldened to further damage our own community and harm each other, rather than work together and build each other up? XXXTentacion, even with his long list of terrible choices, was just beginning to try to change the narrative of rap and bring positivity into the game, all to be rewarded with death and violence. Death and violence from a young man who could probably relate to him in a multitude of ways. We have to stop the violence. We're already being killed (literally and figuratively) by the system. Let's not help speed up the process.
I'm also sick and tired of people being fake. It seems that social media has bred a new generation of attention-seeking, ego-feeding narcissists, and celebs are the worst of them all. I've known X's music for a long time (and listened to it for a while, until I realized he was colorist and an abuser). So I was around when people, especially other celebrities, made fun of him for being "weird," for looking like a "demon," and for being a "woman abuser." I was there when people dragged him and placed him in the same category as all of the "mumble" and "SoundCloud" rappers.
XXXTentacion was not respected when he was alive, but boy oh boy, everyone online is so quick to call him a legend and exclaim how he inspired them.
Now listen, I'm not going to say that these celebs are lying and that they weren't genuine fans... But where was their love and adoration for him when people were making fun of him? Where were they at when people said his music was weird and only for edgy white kids? I love that musicians like Kanye West, Chris Brown, and The Game can claim that XXXTentacion was such a huge influence on them... But they never once recognized him when he was alive. They never once tried to collaborate with him or work on any projects.
And that's tea..https://giphy.com/gifs/ionedigital-drink-tea-5pUNq...
Honestly, it all sounds disingenuous. I am sick and tired of people being bandwagoners. I am sick and tired of people faking sad, angry, or offended simply when it's convenient for them. It seems that nowadays, no one can think or feel a way about something without the approval from others to do so. People change opinions like they change underwear. And honestly, it's damn frustrating. Of course, I don't want anyone to be happy that X is dead. I most definitely don't want them to disrespect his death by calling him names or downplaying his music.
But let's all be honest here: XXXTentacion was not appreciated by the majority of people, and it is offensive to him and his true fans when others try to spin an opposite narrative.
And last but not least, let's not pretend like he was some happy-go-lucky musician with a clean record and respect for everyone. He was not. He was colorist, violent, and immature. He was reckless, and to an extent, it is understandable given how young he was, but I cannot approve of the mass media pretending that his previous actions did not exist, and most importantly, like he wasn't disparaged for it all throughout his career.
Dying doesn't automatically make you a good person.https://media.giphy.com/media/G4ZNYMQVMH6us/giphy.gif
He was the same person that said, "death to dark-skins."
He was the same person to assault a young woman and then make jokes about the assault, in addition to having his victim's GoFundMe page removed.
It's like the huge ass elephant in the room that no one seems to want to acknowledge. This whole situation reminds me of Amy Winehouse. Remember the talented, yet troubled soul singer who was belittled, mocked, and manipulated all throughout her career, but when she finally died everyone around her tried to pretend like she was some damaged angel that was beyond saving, even though they contributed to her demise in a major way? Yeah, like that.
Admittedly, my perception may be skewed because of the type of media I consume and which blogs I follow, but I remember his scandals were very much a part of his career, and it feels insincere that those who were firmly against him feel the need to flip-flop and disregard everything about him that made them dislike him so much in the first place.
People are so afraid of making others uncomfortable, of addressing the hypocrisies, injustices, and toxic influences that they see on a daily basis. I know that "respect for the dead" is a major contributor to why his problematic past is not mentioned, but I believe that you can respect someone while also acknowledging their faults. All of his faults were actually a huge part of his identity and heavily embedded into his music. We shouldn't pretend they don't exist. Instead, we should use it to open up a conversation.
Conversations about the effect of toxic behaviors perpetuated by celebrities/entertainers that people idolize and look up to. Conversations about how abuse victims are often made to feel responsible for their attack, or whose experiences are outright denied. Conversations about how people can change.
Most importantly when we ignore X's past actions, we ignore that he was at least attempting to make up for them. Older reports of him hosting an event for rape victims and recent speculation that he was hosting a charity event soon in his city, show that he was at least trying to give back to the community. Although not massively supportive enough of his maturation and growth of a person, they were a step in the right direction.
Perhaps he would have righted his wrongs if he was still here, but we must also be honest and acknowledge that XXXTentacion hurt many people, oftentimes without feeling remorse. I am against sugar coating shit and making excuses for people, and death is not an exception. Time and time again, society has more empathy for abusers than for the abused themselves. How many times can we continue to give people a pass for their disgusting actions, simply because they're famous, wealthy, or "artistic geniuses"?
I don't think crucifying him after his death will be particularly helpful, so this is not to bash him but to show that it's OK to talk about people honestly. It's OK to talk about everything honestly.
I hope that the dialogue surrounding his death can be refocused on something else very important in this moment: saving other young people from an untimely and senseless death. Many of us may feel differently about the young artist and what he stood for, but we can all use this traumatic event as a learning experience — so that just for once, something good can come from someone's death.