I was browsing through SoundCloud's "Workout" playlist when I stumbled upon "Look at Me". Back then I was just a regular guy looking to get a pump for my daily walk, and caffeine wasn't doing it. For the first few seconds, I chuckled as I listened to the lyrics. It was by far one of the most entertaining lyrics I had heard in a long time. A sort of Tyler the Creator's humor, but much darker.
It soon dawned on me that I hadn't heard something so aggressively raw and disgustingly vulgar in modern rap music for a long time. The music, however, was extreme adrenaline. The type of music that would make you bungee jump above an alligator-infested river with a piece of raw meat clenched in your teeth. The song wasn't an instant hit. It was different. And from SoundCloud's top 50, it later went mainstream. X was now a star.
After entering the Billboards, X was now on the radar. He was the face of modern hiphop and the fanbase was steadily growing. I took a keen interest in X, I was a fan. Inevitably, I learned about his dreadful past. A past that kept lingering in his present.
It took X almost a year to hit the Billboard. By then he is doing interviews, mainstream rappers are taking an interest in the kid. He boasts about his success and independence on his social media. He is doing surprise shows. Everything is golden. He goes on to release Members Only Vol. 3 EP with Ski Mask the Slumpgod, with the previous 2 EPs gaining a lot of traction.
Within 2 months, X releases his album "17" which makes top 200. Huge controversy. Some against it, almost cancel culture style, some vibing, some neutral. Rap critics, OG rappers, everyone has a say on it.
The album is very different compared to his infamous "Look at Me". The entire vibe is different. Almost as if X is a different kid. There is so much pain, emotion, fight, depression and so much insecurity and fragility in all the songs. It puts X in the limelight, it solidifies him as a legend in the rap game.
The album shows us a different xxxtentacion. A much more versatile rapper. A kid with a lot of potential and talent. He goes on to start turning the trend gears of modern rap.
By the time he turns 20, X has released over 25 singles, 4 albums, 7 mixtapes and 7 EPs. And then, he is shot dead.
Clearly, the rap world is shaken. It is dreadful news. The world has lost one of the greatest rappers of the modern generation. Each of his releases has been better than the last. The greatest of all times in rap including Lil Wayne, Eminem, Kanye, Snoop and more mourn X's death. Some even go to create songs with whatever snippets of X's voice has been left untouched. I still remember how defeated I felt. He had become an inspiration for me to be better, and he was an angel to many suicidal and troubled kids.
But X wasn't all talent and "good guy". His character had changed a lot. His blemishes were darker than the night sky.
You see, what I didn't mention earlier was the hate I had for the guy. And just like me, a lot of people found it difficult to get over their hate for the kid. He wasn't short of any controversy.
X has been arrested multiple times, he has been in court, jail, and house arrest. The guy's past is nasty. He has committed domestic abuse multiple times, sexual assault, armed robbery, and even badly beat up a guy in jail to whom he referred to with a homophobic slur.
While X's "Look at Me" climbed in the billboards, his crimes surfaced. Even when he was mainstream and famous, the kid had troubles straightening himself. Many found it impossible to look over his sexual and domestic assault cases. And till this day, I find it tough to forgive him even if he was a troubled kid when he committed those sins.
Jidenna, another name in hiphop, went on to talk about Malcom X and his crimes and how he would die a nasty criminal instead fo a hero if he didn't grow older. Tweet
It was tough seeing so many people simply looking over his sins, as if rap was embracing sexual assault. It was tough looking over his robbery, assaults, and all the other things too.
But he was a kid. As he grew older, he explained a lot about how troubled he was, even suicidal, in many twisted lyrical ways. As he grew he started doing charity, donating money to children. He built houses and gave away money and assets to the people of his community. He gave out free school supplies, did the helping hand challenge for the youth to express themselves and use it to heal, he went on to help the victims of parkland shooting. He did the simplest things such as sending out random Instagram messages to fans and other rappers either to encourage them, show love or help them avoid suicide.
In a way, it seemed as if he was trying to balance the evil he caused. He tried in various ways, in person or music, to reach out and spread the message of love and strength. Yes, his music was talented and powerful. But the growth in his character was even better. To this day, I wonder would he ever be able to completely overshadow his dark past if he got enough time. I wonder if he could do so much good that the evil he did could be looked over. He was a teen when he did those, he was 20 when he was killed.
By the time he was shot, he had won a lot of hearts. Even with so much love coming his way, he was shot dead. A few rappers went out and criticized the culture of not hanging around with security the rap world had glorified. I wonder if he had security that day and survived, would he be called a coward or would it solidify yet another thing he normalizes in the rap game.