Rapper XXXTentacion, a Broward County musician named Jahseh Onfroy, has a startling history of alleged physical and verbal abuse toward women. New Times last week published a startling look at Onfroy's career: In a long-form profile, reporter Tarpley Hitt spoke to both Onfroy, who is living in his Parkland home on house arrest, as well as Onfroy's alleged victim and former girlfriend, Geneva Ayala.
While Onfroy was happy to share his thoughts about why he doesn't like feminism, Ayala went public with allegations of horrid abuse — including being smacked in the face, held under water, trapped by Onfroy's own threats of suicide, and nearly tortured by having a barbecue fork shoved into her genitals.
Here's a history of how XXXTentacion rose to fame in Florida despite his long history of brutal allegations:
The controversial rapper emerged onto the public stage in early 2017, when a single he uploaded to SoundCloud burst out of underground music circles and into the mainstream. The track was short, distorted like most of his songs, and named an imperative "Look at Me!" But as listeners and media took his instruction to heart, they uncovered details about Onfroy's past, including the brutal allegations of domestic abuse.
When the claims surfaced, the singer joined a lineup of controversial male figures, from Chris Brown to Harvey Weinstein, whose accusations of abuse have spurred a national conversation about an age-old question: Can great art be separated from problematic artists? But unlike Brown, Weinstein, or many of their peers, whose work was well known before it became controversial, Onfroy's celebrity and extreme criminal charges are closely tied. As the singer's friend and fellow rapper Denzel Curry once said in an interview with HotNewHipHop: "The thing with X is, when he got into trouble, that's what blew him up."
In many ways, Onfroy's continued commercial viability is a testament to what accused assailants can still get away with in the court of public opinion, especially when their victims — like Onfroy's — are low-income and women of color.
But after a review of hundreds of pages of court documents, a two-hour talk with the singer, and interviews with his alleged victim, old friends, collaborators, fans, and foes, what emerges is not a portrait of a supervillain. Instead, it's a grim picture of a banal, unglamorous, half-likable kind of figure whom women around the world encounter every day — someone who isn't profoundly addled as much as pathetically insecure, obsessed with power, and incapable of following one essential directive of human conduct: "It's so simple," his accuser says. "Just don't hit anybody."
Lauderhill rapper and accused domestic abuser XXXTentacion has announced he'll hold an "anti-rape" gathering during Miami Art Week.
"Basically rape victims can come to this event and tell their stories and help others, and support others who have been through a similar instance," the 19-year-old rapper, born Jahseh Onfroy, announced on Instagram.
Details are nil at the moment, but more information will arrive Tuesday, according to a representative of the artist who spoke to Complex.
What makes this announcement quite strange is the rapper's status as an alleged sexual offender. He is awaiting trial on four charges, including aggravated battery of a pregnant woman and witness tampering. X pleaded not guilty this past January 25 and called the charges "fabricated." In September 2017, Pitchfork acquired 142 pages of testimony from his alleged victim, in which she claimed he beat, threatened, strangled, and tortured using her various household implements.
Rapper XXXTentacion is not a good person. He's accused of some truly heinous crimes, which New Times has detailed extensively. But somehow he keeps finding his way back into the news, and this time, it's for suing a woman who has accused him of hitting her.
On March 26, video surfaced via TMZ of the rapper, birth name Jahseh Onfroy, striking a young woman on the side of her head. The two appear to be posing for Snapchat, and the caption reads, "I hate this nigga." Judging by Onfroy's appearance (his hairstyle is different and he has fewer tattoos), the video is not recent, but it was alarming enough to get the attention of prosecutors.
Onfroy's legal team initially responded by calling it a harmless gesture. "The actors in this video are obviously friends, and also obviously acting in jest," they told Pitchfork. They added, "We are advised that the woman in the video has been located and has admitted that that activity depicted was a 'joke' and not an 'assault.'"
Shortly afterward, however, it seemed the woman came forward to set the record straight. "For those who are questioning why i didn't come forward earlier," she wrote on an Instagram story under the name @lilbcupp, "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 [sic]." She went on to deny releasing the video herself.
Onfroy's response? A lawsuit. The rapper is now suing the woman for fraud and defamation.
So in the midst of this legal drama, XXX got a bunch of good press for his promised donation. Headlines like “XXXTentacion Champions For Women's Rights With 100K Donation” and the all-caps “XXXTENTACION PLEDGES $100,000 TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION” appeared on seemingly every outlet.
The only problem? Nearly six months later, there’s no proof X has donated anywhere near that amount. Over the past few months, Complex has reached out repeatedly to XXXTentacion’s representative for details about whether he had followed through on his claimed charitable act. At first, his rep sent statements that gave no details, and appeared to show some equivocation: “XXXTentacion expressed to his fans what was in his heart at the time” and “There's no date or time stamp on X's plans.”
As Complex informed X's camp that we were getting ready to publish a story about whether the rapper had broken his public promise, we finally heard back after two months of unanswered emails. The rep claimed that X had donated to Women in Distress of Broward County “and others,” though they didn’t provide a date or amount of the donation, and did not say what the other organizations were. The rep also said that, while X stands by his not guilty plea, he has “taken great steps to educate himself on domestic violence.” The steps were not specified. As of press time, the rep had not responded to follow-up questions about the dollar amount of the claimed donation to Women in Distress of Broward County, a way to verify with the organization that the donation occurred, which other organizations X has donated to, and what he had done to "educate himself" about domestic violence.
Complex reached out to Women in Distress of Broward County to try and confirm the donation. The organization’s marketing and communications manager Matthew Williams said, “Unfortunately, I can't comment.”
Things are not looking bright for XXXTentacion.
The rapper was denied bail and sent to jail following a hearing in a Miami-Dade County courtroom this morning. Prosecutors in the 2016 assault case added seven new felony charges, all reportedly having to do with witness tampering and harassment.
Originally, the rapper, whose real name is Jahseh Onfroy, faced four counts, including aggravated battery of a pregnant woman and witness tampering, to which he pled not guilty.
The new charges come after the defense submitted a document signed by the victim with a request from her to drop the charges against Onfroy. She also declared that she did not want to testify. But prosecutors doubted the validity of the affidavit. The new witness tampering allegation carries severe penalties. Overall, if the charges are confirmed,. Onfroy could face life in prison.
Less than month ago, Spotify installed its controversial "Hate Content and Hateful Content Policy," under which certain artists were removed from its popular, curated playlists. One of them was Broward rapper XXXTentacion, whose success in music has been overshadowed by felony charges including aggravated battery of a pregnant woman and witness tampering.
"While we believe our intentions were good," Spotify said in a statement (apparently unaware of that old saying about the road to Hell), "the language was too vague, we created confusion and concern, and didn't spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines."
It might have been one of those key partners who influenced the streaming giant's decision. Anthony Tiffith, CEO of Top Dawg Entertainment — the label of Kendrick Lamar, SZA, ScHoolboy Q, and others — revealed he had reached out to Spotify's director of artist relations and threatened to pull his label's music. Lamar, who recently won a Pulitzer for his album Damn., is himself a fan of XXXTentacion, whose given name is Jahseh Onfroy, and last year tweeted his admiration of Onfroy's album, 17.
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So when Onfroy moved to Orlando in late June 2016, Ayala went with him. The depositions detail a pattern of regular, torturous abuse that summer, with daily verbal attacks and physical incidents every three or four days. According to Ayala's statement, he beat her at times, choked her, broke clothes hangers on her legs, threatened to chop off her hair or cut out her tongue, pressed knives or scissors to her face, and held her head under water in their bathroom while promising to drown her.
"His favorite thing was to just backhand my mouth," Ayala says. "That always left welts inside my lips." Onfroy would also try to guilt her with near-attempts at suicide, she says. He would fill a bathtub, dangle a microwave over the water, and threaten to let go.
Onfroy's triggers were, in some ways, predictable — usually jealousy — but also erratic. Small things could set him off: like her humming another rapper's verse or asking a friend what music he was playing.
"Once, we were all in the car, and my ex made a joke," says Talyssa Lee, who was dating one of Onfroy's producers in 2016. "[Ayala] just laughed as a reaction... When we got in the house, [Onfroy] walked into the other room and started beating on her."
Lee, who didn't know Ayala or Onfroy before the week of the car ride, noticed marks on Ayala's body within hours of meeting her. "It was very clear that [Onfroy] was avoiding her face," she says. "He was hitting her under the chin, on her back — her ribs were all bruised up."
Almost as disturbing as the overt abuse, Lee says, was the lack of response from anyone around the pair. "All the boys around him, they witnessed that shit," she says. "I can't just sit here and hear a girl screaming in the next room... her voice gurgling because she's being held underwater."
Yesterday New Times published a profile of controversial SoundCloud artist XXXTentacion. The 20-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jahseh Onfroy, is on house arrest while awaiting trial for a long list of disturbing charges, including witness tampering, witness harassment, false imprisonment, and aggravated battery of a pregnant victim. The piece reported that Onfroy's alleged victim, Geneva Ayala, started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for her extensive hospital bills.
Less than 24 hours after the story went online, the campaign has now raised more than $12,000 in new donations. One anonymous donor gave $11,000.