XXXTENTACION CASE (MASS APPEAL)
(XXXTENTACION CASE) Earlier this week, silence hit the room as XXXTentacion released the music video for his breakout hit “Look At Me.” As a music publication, it’s our job to cover the most significant new hip hop tracks, videos, and news that comes across our desks. But yesterday, a majority of us just didn’t want to cover him. Besides the new details that have surfaced from his domestic abuse allegations, X has proven to not be a good person. Out of all the artists who deserve the spotlight, we felt conflicted about giving the spotlight to him, even if our review mentioned how much of a piece of shit he is. Unfortunately, X is a talented kid who has a lot of fans, which is why we felt the need to cover him. He’s a major part of hip hop culture right now, even if he shouldn’t be.
And before you call me an old-ass hater who just wants him to fail, I’ll provide a background on myself. I’m a 19-year-old black male. I listened to “Look At Me” for the first time unaware of the charges and loved the track because it was a mix of rap and the mosh-vibes I got from grunge and metal music. I listened to “garette’s REVENGE” earlier this year countless times and felt the pure and raw emotion behind the track. I even used X as an example in my piece on rap and depression this past summer. But as time went on and I saw the allegations and the details, I realized that I can’t support a person who could even be accused of these terrible crimes.
MASS APPEAL doesn’t endorse XXX, but if you’ve ever heard the old saying, “any press is good press,” you might understand why it bothered me. We might say “Fuck X!,” but at the end of the day, we’re linking back to his video and allowing people to see his art. While our post wouldn’t truly impact the success of his video, which already has five million views in less than 25 hours, I would’ve felt better if we didn’t push it out. But we did, and that’s fine, a lot of publications did. Still, we got a lot of comments echoing my sentiment.
Then we got a lot of people who were seeing the video for the first time. They enjoyed the artistry and just threw his domestic allegations to the wayside (of course they were all men). I saw a lot of people claiming that he was innocent until proven guilty, so until he’s actually guilty the song is dope to them.
The problem with this is that XXXTentacion is not a good person. If that line bothered you, I’m sure you’re most likely an X fan—one of the many people who have gone across Reddit or Twitter and said, “Vro. If he did it he’d be in jail by now.” I’m sure you listened to 17 and saw a 19-year-old plagued with sadness and depression and wanted to create excuses. And I’m sure you’ve seen his videos saying “I didn’t do it” and you took his word for it.
Fuck you. It’s as simple as that. In the wake of the allegations, XXX has gone as far as to say, “for everyone saying I’m a domestic abuser, I’ll domestically abuse your little sister’s pussy from the back” and menacingly laugh as if he’s some third-rate anime villain.
Any person who doesn’t even have the decency to take allegations against a character like this seriously is a sociopath. But, unfortunately, rap has always been full of characters like this. Tyler, the Creator and Eminem rose to fame with lyrics depicting rape, domestic abuse and more. Going beyond rap, Marilyn Manson took over rock music with lyrics that people said had a negative effect on the youth. Regardless of the genre, music is full of questionable lyrics that are there purely to incite shock.
But X goes beyond some Eminem in ’98 shock value. Eminem could say hardcore shit in his music because it’s music. He shouldn’t be expressing the themes of domestic violence on tracks like “Kim,” where he yells “You were supposed to love me! Now bleed, bitch, bleed! Bleed, bitch, bleed! Bleed!” But, I’d rather Em bare his soul and feelings on the track then end up hurting his wife in real life. That’s where the two are different: Where Em would have wild shit in his music as a character but seem to be a normal person in interviews, X’s abuse isn’t in his music, it’s in his personality and his being.
He won’t rap about fucking your underage sister as quickly as he’ll say it in a video or tweet. This is not a character, it’s him.When you support XXX you’re supporting a person who has publicly relished the fact that he beat up a gay man in prison within an inch of his life. You’re supporting a man who laughed when someone was in the emergency room as a result of a stabbing he was involved in. You’re supporting a man who jokes about fucking underage girls as a form of revenge. DMX and Biggie might have said some shit like this for shock value, but then again it’s in the music. Not that it’s OK to perpetuate sexual assault in music, but shock value lyrics hold less weight behind them than actual actions.
In response to the allegations, there are tweets talking about XXX beating up women on several occasions that paint him just like the sociopath presented in his ex’s report. Instead of possibly admitting that X is troubled and has problems, I see grown-ass men defending him, saying “he was 17” or “it was two years ago.” I’ve seen tweets asking why people would expect a 19-year-old to act like as 30-year-old as if you need to have lived through your entire 20s before realizing that maybe you shouldn’t beat women or threaten them with rape.
While X is a huge problem, like the tweets from fans show, the bigger problem is the people who support him. When people support X, with every album stream, video view, or Twitter follower, he grows more powerful. His reach gets larger and he becomes more famous and wealthy. Even when he was in jail, X got a distribution deal with Empire. Behind bars, with his future in question, the music industry still sent this kid a bag, completely ignoring what he may have done to this poor woman. Every time you say that he hasn’t been proven guilty so you can listen to his music, you’re contributing to his success. The problem with this is, if X is proven guilty, you’ve already allowed him to win. With the amount of money and fame he has, he can potentially buy his way out of this case. You’re already aware of the allegations and you’re still a fan, so it’s unlikely that you’ll stop listening to songs you’ve placed in your regular rotation if the allegations prove to be true.
We need to fear the generation of kids in their late teens who see no problem and follow him as if he’s some cult leader. This is the new generation of women haters and abusers. That’s why this issue is actually bigger than X. Supporting X and ignoring the violent allegations won’t just allow him to succeed, it will silence the voice of his accuser. And while she’s “only” one woman, it sets the precedent of silencing the voices of women everywhere who deal with domestic abuse. It promotes rape and abuse culture and helps create a new generation of Xs. We’ve already talked about hip hop’s misogyny problem, but incidents like this exploit hip hop’s domestic violence problem. And with hip hop’s influence, if we let a man who straight-up abused a woman succeed, we’re normalizing abuse.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe XXXTentacion didn’t do anything wrong and I’ll look like the biggest idiot in the world when this all plays out. However, looking at the evidence presented and at his public behavior so far, I’m not sure that this will be the case. And when that time comes, if you’ve supported him, you can’t go back and take back your appreciation for a vile human being. X doesn’t deserve your money or admiration, and if you don’t see a problem with his rise, then you need to reevaluate your values.
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