Florida-based rapper XXXTentacion (real name Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy) announced Feb. 15 that he would put on a charity show in Broward County, home of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and that all proceeds would go to the families of the victims of the recent school shooting that left 17 dead. He also released a new song titled “Hope” for the survivors. Both of these instances of Onfroy giving back are inspiring examples of Florida citizens uniting in defiance of catastrophe. However, as heartwarming as Onfroy’s efforts might seem, there’s a terrible history here that should not be buried in the wake of tragedy and for the sake of art. Onfroy is not just a rapper; he’s a bonafide sociopath. Between a past filled with manipulation, false imprisonment and domestic assault, he somehow became one of the hottest hip-hop acts of 2017. His actions last week raise a troubling question: in an age of empowerment, can we accept the sincerity of an alleged abuser during moments of hardship? I find it hard to believe Onfroy is the pillar of support we need in times of tragedy.
His ex-girlfriend would be the first to tell you that he’s incapable of sincerity. In early September of last year, she came forward after a long stint of silence to provide further details on her abusive relationship with Onfroy that had ended when he was locked away for aggravated battery while she was pregnant. Her testimony describes a man who has lost sight of reality and frequently used strangulation and death threats as a means of getting his way over the course of several years.
Despite the release of the testimony, Onfroy would go on to sell over 300,000 copies of his debut album “17” by mid-October. Both his music and his artistic presence paint a similar picture of someone who sees violence as a solution (á la “Grab that bat, Babe Ruth / Swing, that b**** might lose a tooth,” lyrics from his song “Yung Bratz”). He’s repeatedly glorified suicide on his Instagram, celebrated sexual misconduct in his music and endorsed race crimes in his music videos. At his own concerts, he’s punched fans and incited riots. The only clues we have that Onfroy actually cares about the well-being of others are his donations to domestic violence prevention programs and a canceled “anti-rape” event, both of which have been popularly billed as publicity stunts to trim away some of the rapper’s bad image.
Yet, there are those that still only see the other side of Onfroy. Many of his fans view Onfroy’s commitment to helping the survivors as a sign of someone that’s using their fame and power for good. One Twitter user even claimed that Onfroy’s “the most caring rapper to this day.” Others are caught in a moral dilemma between recognizing his past actions and giving him the benefit of the doubt, citing this as his “second chance” and comparing him to hip-hop nice guy Chance The Rapper.
I can make this moral dilemma evaporate with one tweet. Last July, Onfroy posted “LIL DYLAN ROOF” followed by several heart emojis. It’s a blatant comparison between himself and the white supremacist mass murderer who killed nine people in a 2015 church shooting. Not only does Onfroy condone violence and sexual assault, he condones the same act of terror that he’s allegedly fighting against. At this point, it’s impossible to believe that Onfroy is capable of sincerity at all.
The survivors of the Douglas High shooting and the families of the victims deserve better than this. They cannot and should not be subjected to becoming another one of Onfroy’s self-promotions in his feeble attempt to clear his name. Don’t let him hide behind his fame.