XXXTentacion was a prominent figure in the rise of the SoundCloud rap scene, after breaking through the platform and onto a global scale in 2017 with his hit “Look At Me,” which peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100, on the heels of his 2016 domestic violence arrest.
While his rapid ascent in music was eclipsed by his legal woes, XXXTentacion's fan base grew exponentially with every release, despite the controversy surrounding him. It even earned a stamp of approval from Kendrick Lamar, who urged fans to listen to XXX's 17 album on Twitter -- "listen to this album if you feel anything. raw thoughts" -- and threatened to remove his music from Spotify when the streaming platform announced they'll no longer promote music from artists hit with allegations of sexual misconduct on their playlists.
Below, take a look at XXXTentacion's career arc, from SoundCloud breakout artist to hip-hop star.
March 2014 - XXXTentacion uploads his first track to SoundCloud.
Before XXXTentacion gained a legion of fans for his genre-blending, ominous, trap-inflected earworms -- and attention for his controversial legal troubles --the Florida native was an up-and-coming rapper with his eyes set on pursuing a music career. Like most aspiring rap artists, XXX took to SoundCloud to build his brand and uploaded his first-ever track, “Vice City.”
With a nostalgic boom-bap sound and eerie synths, XXX finds himself in a contemplative state, as he sings on the hook, “My hypothesis is, death ain't shit/ I'd rather die than be alive in this life/ Honestly full of strive and strive.”
May 2014 - XXXTentacion unveils Ice Hotel EP.
XXXTentacion’s continued to self-release new music, including his EP Ice Hotel, which featured the SZA-sampling title track “Ice Hotel,” and several appearances from fellow Florida MC Ski Mask the Slump God. He later deleted the EP from his official SoundCloud page.
November 2014 - The rapper follows up with The Fall EP.
Following the release of Ice Hotel, XXX returned just months later with another EP titled The Fall.
April 2015 - XXXTentacion joins forces with Ski Mask the Slump God to launch Members Only collective.
The two Sunshine State rappers teamed up for the collaborative mixtape Members Only, Vol.1, as the first release from their rap collective Members Only. Months later in October, the Members Only collective release the second edition of their mixtape, Members Only, Vol. 2, with appearances from Flyboy Tarantino, 1Hunnit Junior, and more.
November 2015 - XXXTentacion finds himself in trouble with the law.
In November 2015, XXXTentacion was reportedly arrested on charges of home invasion and aggravated battery.
December 2015 - “Look At Me” makes its SoundCloud debut.
Things started to look up for XXX when he officially debuted “Look At Me” on Soundcloud, as the single slowly gained traction for months. Produced by Rojas, XXX soars over a gritty instrumental on the track, beefed up by thick drums and an ominous melody, as he brags about his lavish lifestyle and laces each line with catchy ad-libs.
August 2016 - Onfroy is arrested again.
In July 2016, Onfroy’s rap sheet expanded to include new charges of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.
October 2016 - Onfroy’s then-girlfriend files report claiming that the rapper physically abused her.
XXX was slapped with multiple charges following an incident with his then-girlfriend in October 2016, in which the victim alleged that she was “punched and kicked” to the point where she could no longer see. Onfroy was later charged with aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, false imprisonment, domestic battery by strangulation, and witness-tampering.
February 2017 - XXX’s “Look At Me” enters Billboard Hot 100.
In the midst of his legal troubles, XXX’s “Look At Me” finally picked up steam after its initial release in 2016 and made its official debut on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 95.
May 2017 - XXX gifts fans Revenge.
XXX kept his musical output consistent and gifted fans an eight-track project titled Revenge ahead of his debut album, 17. “Look At Me” landed on the project, as well as “RIP Roach,” featuring frequent collaborator Ski Mask the Slump God.
June 2017 - XXXTentacion earns a spot in XXL’s annual Freshman Class.
A spot on XXL’s Freshman Class cover is at the top of bucket lists for most up-and-coming rappers, and XXXTentacion checked off that feat when the outlet revealed the 2017 XXL Freshman Class group. “As an artist and as a person, I think I’ve molded people the most as far as my inside views,” he said during his XXL Freshman interview. “Obviously, I’m one of the greatest of this upcoming generation as far as artistry.”
June 2017 - XXX gets into a fight with a fan at his show.
XXXTentacion’s concerts were known to get a bit rowdy. During a concert in Salt Lake City, UT, XXX jumped down into the crowd and approached a fan just before punching the man in his face for all the crowd to see. The incident happened just days after a brawl broke out at XXX’s concert in Santa Ana, CA, in which the rapper was knocked to the ground by a concert attendee while performing on stage.
August 2017 - XXXTentacion unleashes his debut studio album.
Fresh off the sleeper success of “Look At Me," XXXTentacion unveiled his highly-anticipated album 17 via Bad Vibes Forever/Empire Distribution. The album was praised by fans and celebrities like Kendrick Lamar, who shared a link to the album on Twitter telling fans, “listen to this album if you feel anything. raw thoughts.”
Ohio rapper Trippie Redd was the lone feature on 17, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
September 2017 - XXX’s alleged victim shares harrowing details of domestic abuse.
Pitchfork shared excerpts from the victim’s testimony back in September 2017, in which the victim and former girlfriend of XXX claimed the rapper threatened to penetrate her using a “barbecue pitchfork” or “barbecue cleaner.” The victim also said that XXX repeatedly attacked her during their time together and used objects like plastic hangers to hit her with. While she was pregnant with his child, he allegedly threatened to kill her and the baby after finding out she slept with someone while he was locked up in prison. She said she eventually escaped by calling up her ex-boyfriend, whose mother escorted her to the police department to file a statement.
September 2017 - XXX sparks backlash with “Look At Me” video.
XXX was no stranger to controversy, and the visual for “Look At Me” raised a few eyebrows when the rapper dropped it. The video focused on police brutality and featured a controversial scene where XXX hangs a young white boy.
October 2017 - XXXTentacion nabs deal with Capitol Music Group's Caroline.
Multiple sources informed Billboard that XXXTentacion had inked a deal with Caroline, a subsidiary of Capitol Music Group, for $6 million.
March 2018 - XXXTentacion drops his second album.
The stars aligned on XXXTentacion’s sophomore album ?, which featured Joey Bada$$, PnB Rock, and Travis Barker. XXX earned his first-ever No. 1 album and moved 131,000 album equivalent units in the set's first week.
March 2018 - “Sad” enters Billboard Hot 100 top 10.
As ? continued to do numbers, XXX earned his first Hot 100 top 10 hit with “Sad,” which skyrocketed to the No. 7 spot on the chart.
March 2018 - Old video surfaces of XXX seemingly hitting a girl.
In March, an old video circulated around the Internet that showed XXX apparently hitting a woman in the head. “For those who are questioning why i didn’t come forth earlier was because i was terrified for my life..imagine someone doing that to u unprovoked.? At 16? let alone the people he associates himself w/? truth of the matter is I would still be holding on to this secret if it wasn’t leaked,” she wrote on her Instagram story shortly after the video leaked. XXX’s lawyer told Billboard that the victim “admitted that the video was made in jest, and it was only after she told her grandparents how much money Jahseh was worth that her story changed. It’s obvious that she just wants money, and every single allegation she has made is a complete and utter lie."
May 2018 - Spotify removes XXX’s music from its curated playlists.
Spotify removed “Sad!” from hip-hop playlists, as part of the platform’s new "Hate Content and Hateful Conduct" policy. In addition to XXX’s music, the policy affected artists such as R. Kelly and Tay-K. However, following criticism from several people in music, Spotify walked back on their new policy.
“I don't think it's right for artists to be censored, especially in our culture. How did they just pick those [artists] out?” Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith told Billboard. “How come they didn't pick out any others from any other genres or any other different cultures? There [are] so many other artists that have different things going on, and they could've picked anybody. But it seems to me that they're constantly picking on hip-hop culture."
June 2018 - The Miami News Times publishes an interview with XXX and his alleged victim.
The Miami News Times sat down with XXXTentacion earlier in June, in which the rapper discussed his upbringing and juvenile hall stint, before the focus turned to XXX’s alleged victim, Geneva Ayala, who detailed her experience with the rapper and the result of her coming forward with her story.
“His favorite thing was to just backhand my mouth," Ayala told the reporter. "That always left welts inside my lips.” Ayala added that she was cyberbullied by XXX’s fans and was even stalked at her job, which she later had to quit after working for one week.
June 2018 - XXXTentacion dies at age 20.
On Monday afternoon (June 18), TMZ reported that XXX was fatally shot in Deerfield Beach, Florida. The rapper was found in his car without a pulse and rushed to the hospital, where officials pronounced him dead at around 5:30 p.m EST. At the time, XXX was facing multiple charges, from false imprisonment to witness tampering and several other charges, and was awaiting trial.