The deadly shooting Monday of rapper XXXTentacion cut short a career that was on the rise — and also filled with violence and controversy.
The 20-year-old rapper, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, was gunned down while leaving a motorcycle dealership in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Police said the shooting appeared to be a robbery attempt, but no suspects have been named or arrested.
The rap star's life was a dichotomy of dizzying success and brutal violence, which folded into his music and often shook his career. He had signed a record deal that was rumored to be worth $6 million, and yet just one month ago Spotify removed his music from official playlists in an expulsion of artists accused of "hateful conduct." (The streaming service later started promoting his music again and introduced a "Rest in peace, XXXTentacion" playlist after his death, which has drawn derision.)
XXXTentacion released two major label albums: “17,” which debuted at number two on the Billboard charts last August, and “?,” which debuted at number one in March. His singles regularly reached the top of the charts. But he was also regularly running into problems with the law.
XXXTentacion grew up in South Florida, in Pompano Beach and Lauderhill, and his troubles began early. When he was 6, he attempted to stab a man who he said was "messing" with his mother. He got expelled from middle school for fighting. He also spent time in a juvenile detention center when he was 14. He dropped out of high school in the 10th grade.
XXXTentacion rose to fame by releasing songs on Soundcloud, dropping his first song “Vice City” in March 2014, when he was 16.
In November 2015, he was charged with home invasion robbery with a firearm and aggravated battery with a firearm. He pleaded no contest and was eventually given probation.
His breakthrough came with the song “Look At Me,” which went platinum and became a top 40 hit in 2016.
But with fresh fame came more legal drama and violence. XXXTentacion was accused of beating his pregnant girlfriend and holding her hostage until her face could heal from the bruises, according to Pitchfork. He was arrested in October 2015 on charges of aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, and witness tampering.
His shows were sometimes cancelled due to rioting, and there are several videos circulating online of violence during the concerts. In one, he is knocked out on stage. In another, he punched a fan at a show in Salt Lake City. There’s also video of the rapper hitting a fan with a microphone.
Despite the controversy surrounding him, he received accolades from his contemporaries. Kendrick Lamar hyped the album “17” on Twitter. He collaborated with popular EDM artist Diplo. And notably, he publicly feuded with Drake.
Just three months before he was killed, XXXTentacion had a No. 1 album on Billboard and his first top 10 single. By the time of his death, XXXTentacion was waiting to go to trial on his domestic abuse case, for which he had pleaded not guilty.