News of Florida rapper XXXTentacion’s death at age 20 flooded timelines and blog sites alike from many devoted young fans. His death was a murder from an apparent robbery while leaving a motorcycle dealership in his home state. Off first sight, older Hip Hop heads viewed XXXTentacion as the average tat faced mumble rapper with dyed hair while the younger generation saw him at the front lines of innovative music that many tried to duplicate. The controversial rapper’s Soundcloud songs gained huge popularity with millions of listening streams that later earned him a record deal reportedly worth millions. If you weren’t a fan of XXXTentacion’s music then there’s a bigger chance you were not a fan of his personal antics like being caught on camera beating a woman and accusations of abusing his pregnant girlfriend numerous times. Yet despite XXXTentacion’s public feuds with rappers like Drake and allegedly getting jumped by Migos added by controversial comments on feminism and Black Lives Matter his death leaves a huge impact for today’s young Hip Hop audience. Besides nodding my head a couple times whenever his song would play in the background I personally was not a fan of his. I am too old with enough black male icons from my childhood who have in recent years let me down to add anyone new to the batch. The greater tragedy from XXXTentacion’s murder is this notion that his death can be summed in one absolute lesson that is a universal truth.
The first thing that was brought to my attention was learning of XXXTentacion’s homelife growing up in and out of youth detention centers for various crimes. In the past, I worked as Group home counselor for years and had to work with Judges, lawyers, social workers and probation officers with what America loves labels as the At-risk youth. The kids who grow up in the system often develop their own culture of “figuring it out on their own” whenever a parent(s) or loved one is not consistent in their life. In many cases, the fundamental rules that an average everyday citizen live by are not usually introduced to these kids until they’ve already broken the law/rule. XXXTentacion’s mentions of drug use, suicidal thoughts, and violence in his songs represent an outcry from trauma suffered that is similar to At-Risk youth who have faced many hardships on their own. There are often two extreme reactions one can count on when a controversial figure like XXXTentacion is killed. It’s either the “Oh that’s what they get” waved finger karma reaction or the unhealthy “let just ignore him beating his girlfriend because he’s a great artist” hero worship. Both are extreme beliefs that continue to fall short of understanding the bigger issue of when one’s battle with private demons become public entertainment.
The new Soundcloud rapper doesn’t have a mentor like a Dr.Dre was for a Snoop Dogg, a Top Dawg is for a Kendrick Lamar or even a Jay-Z was for a J.Cole. The internet offers free reigns for any teen or young adult to display their songs at-will giving the chance to receive overnight fame with no guide nor knowledge on how to handle it. Record labels profit off their art while supplying the young artist toys like cars and cash for a new house but with limited(or none) counsel for their past and now new life. It is also a far reach to expect the new youtube rapper to respect any opinion of a Hip Hop elder who only tells them constantly that their music is trash. That’s like an absent father who shows up at college graduation making negative remarks about how to horrible your grades were.
Society cannot expect for a troubled artist like an XXXTentacion or Kodak Black to have washed away their past sins and gain infinite knowledge along with new found fame. There are consequences in life but getting killed in a robbery near your childhood neighborhood isn’t one of them. If there was true karma for beating one’s girlfriend then there would be a lot of recently unemployed professional ball players but unfortunately, there isn’t. The murder of XXXTentacion is a sad reminder that troubled black youths issues are not fully addressed until they themselves become a problem for everyone else. Death is final and XXXTentancion only lived to see age 20 so there is no chance for him to evolve into a better person or live to pay for his bullshit.