Opinion June 20, 2018

The music world is torn about how to remember XXXTentacion

Former Staff Writer
The music world is torn about how to remember XXXTentacion

Content warning: this story contains details of sexual assault.

The music industry has blown up in the last 24 hours over the news that rising rap star/controversial figure XXXTentaction was fatally shot in a drive-by incident at age 20.

The artist has been lauded by peers for being a fresh voice on issues such mental health in the scene but condemned by the media over charges of multiple counts of aggravated battery, domestic battery, false imprisonment and witness tampering.

He was also heavily scrutinized for comments made in 2016 where he openly bragged about viciously beating a gay male while he was incarcerated for what the rapper described as “staring at him”.

Pending trial and on house arrest when he passed away, the duality of the artist and his legacy has proved difficult to compartmentalize for a large portion of the music community as they’re forced to ask the question, “What kind of weight does an untimely death carry when attempting to divorce the art from the artist”

From industry to musical peers to fans and critics, the community is torn with how to deal with such a deeply conflicting artist and his tragic death.


Back in May, rolled out its Hateful Conduct Policy in an attempt to rid itself of music that “advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual.” was among one of the two artists (the other being R.Kelly) specifically mentioned by the streaming giant as the type of music that would be removed.

Less than a month after the policy came into place and after some extreme criticism from artists like Kendrick Lamar, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek admitting that the initiative was “rolled out wrong” and reinstated all previously eradicated songs.

Following news of the rappers death, keen-eyed Spotify users spotted a ‘This is XXXTentacion’ playlist, celebrating his body of work, underneath a banner that read “Rest in peace, XXXTentacion”.

The move has attracted criticism from fans and critics alike who accuse Spotify of putting streaming revenue above all else.

The Music Network reached out to Spotify who responded with no further comment.

The orbital media has taken a firm negotiated stance when it comes to reporting on the death with many outlets repeatedly detailing his alleged crimes as a footnote to his violent last moments.

Knowing the power and clickability of the subject, outlets have been running with every new development – whether it be the social media post of his ex-girlfriend and alleged abusee or the conspiracy theories that claim the XXXtentacion is still very much alive.


Predictably, hardcore fans of the rapper have flocked to social media to sing the praises of an artist taken in his prime, erasing the pain and hurt that he inflicted during his life.

Nevertheless, fans are mourning the loss of an artist they connected to with a memorial being erected outside the motorcycle dealership where the artist was shot.

According to Variety, Police in Los Angeles were forced to break up a vigil of approximately 300 to 500 people that congregated on Tuesday evening local time to remember the rapper.


A career that had the backing of the likes of A$AP Rocky and Ski Mask the Slump Lord during his short career, it wasn’t a surprise when the tributes from XXXTentaction came flowing following his passing.

Artists such as , Diplo, Pusha T, J.Cole and more coming out to mourn the rapper, with many not mentioning the controversy that hounded the young artist.

Those outside the music realm have taken a more neutral stance, calling out the loss of an artist while also acknowledging his reputation of violence.

What is the right way forward?

XXXTentacion was just one in a long line of artists with problematic reputations.

His passing does not erase the pain that he inflicted on the people around him and the community at large.

He also touched a lot of people with his music, something that his death also does not erase.

The key to navigating a conflicting artist XXXTentacion is acknowledgement – of both his contributions and his subtractions to the music industry at large – in a hope that it will encourage the artistry that his displayed and discourage the hate that he expelled for future generations of musicians.

If this story raised any issues for you, please contact:

– 24-hour support for survivors of sexual assault: 1800 RESPECT or 03 9635 3610

– Men’s Line: 1300 78 99 78

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