For those who may not know, Florida rapper XXXTentacion released his latest album “?” on 16 March this year. The album is currently sitting at the top of the Billboard Hot 200 and debuted at number 3 in the UK Charts.
But the question mark title feels appropriate, because XXXTentacion (real name Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy) is famous for plenty more than his music. In fact, he’s allegedly done horrific stuff in the past. As well as previously being charged for gun possession, armed robbery and aggravated battery, Onfroy is currently awaiting trial for the continued assault of a pregnant women whom he was in a relationship with in 2016. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a video recently surfaced showing Onfroy hitting an unnamed women in the face. His lawyers (who we can only assume are great people) claims the 20-year-old rapper was “acting in jest”, but the victim in the video claims it was a very different story. With his abusive behaviour being such public knowledge, you have to wonder – why are people still supporting him? And how the hell has his album debuted at number one?
"With his abusive behaviour being such public knowledge, you have to wonder – why are people still supporting him?"
Sadly this is nothing new. The entertainment industry is full of abusers who continue to work successfully after their crimes come to light – just look at Chris Brown or R Kelly. And it’s not just modern artists who present this kind of moral conundrum, either. John Lennon was famously shitty to women for much of his life; physically and mentally abusing his first wife, his son and second wife Yoko Ono, as well as numerous others. And yet he’s still seen as a legend.
Maybe it’s unsurprising that when someone’s work has had such a huge and long-standing impact on pop culture, it takes a long time to separate the art from the artist when their crimes come to light. Thanks to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the public perception of pop culture from the past is starting to change – people are now regularly refusing to work with Woody Allen, for example – but it’s slow work. However, with newer and less famous artists like XXXTentacion it would be far easier to drop them from the public eye. More people just need to realise that supporting someone like this is as good as condoning their actions.
"More people need to realise that supporting someone abusive is as good as condoning their actions."
Safe to say I’m not a fan. But clearly some people are. Onfroy himself has said, “if you’re a fan that means you abide by everything I believe in, and you support what I do to the fullest extent.” which is…. extreme. And pretty worrying considering how much influence Onfroy has over his male fanbase. This kind of thinking not only excuses abusive behaviour, but normalises it.
Which is still begs the question; why do people actually listen to him? And is it possible to overlook the controversy? To find out, I asked you guys.
“If you're against abuse you have to be against all abusers, no exceptions. None of this “yeah he's a bad person but his music goes hard” shit"
Grace Aitman, Student.
"You can listen to someone without necessarily endorsing them. We've enjoyed reading and getting insights into twisted minds for hundreds of years. An enjoyment of a piece of work doesn't necessarily mean a moral endorsement of the artist or the individual.”
Cameron Alexander, Student
“I accept he may be talented, but I’d never listen to him because it supports his success and puts money in his pocket.”
Mille Waters, Tattoo and Body Artist
“As an artist he’s one of my favourite after his new album, I just try not to focus on him as a person”
Charlie Wikeley, Student
“He seems like an arrogant and shitty person. People forget when you listen to their music it’s supporting them and putting money in their pockets to continue being in the spotlight. If you ignore idiots they tend to go away”
Emma Snell, Sales Assistant
“I used to listen to him regularly but after the accusations and some of the evidence provided, I would find it hard to support him”
Joe Joyce, Student
"He's a grim guy, I cannot understand people that still support him"
Caitlin Yates, Student
“Honestly, I like him, it doesn't bother me what he's done. What he did is wrong but lots of famous people do bad things.”
Jordan Bernard, Student
“I won’t support abusers, so i don’t listen to him. There are so many talented artists who aren’t abusers and who deserve recognition and support, so i’d much rather give my money to people who deserve it.”
Beth Fizgerald, Student
“I occasionally listen to him but hate him as a person and don’t want to support him”
Harry Hawkins, Student
“I honestly still listen to him. He makes good music. I really don’t care who he is or what he’s about. No matter what the accusations, I don’t know the guy personally.”
Rosie Burgess, Student
“The news had no impact on me listening to him or not, I just didn’t rate his older stuff enough to listen to his new album”
Daniel Day, Student
“Used to listen to him before everything surfaced now I don’t because I don’t agree with supporting someone who acts like that. people support him like they know him personally. I don’t know why you’d go to such lengths to protect someone you don’t even know but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"
Molly Minnighan, Student
“To support these artists shows that people will turn a blind eye when it suits them. I will certainly never listen or buy any of there records”
Stephen Hughes, Student
“I liked his music but stopped immediately when I found out what he did.”
Ivar Samuelsson, Model
“I rate his new album but I don’t rate him as a person, it goes against my morals.”
Jacob Long, Student
“I listen to his music but only through illegal downloads as to not support him, I’d never attend a gig either.”
Freddie Bamber, Tattoo Artist and Bartender
“He’s a fucked-up guy but is trying to better himself. Can only respect that.”
Charlie Aspden, Student
The music industry has a habit of excusing bad behaviour so there’s a good chance venues will continue to book people like XXXTENTACION, 6ix9ine or Kodak Black – but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. If you can’t separate the art from the artist then stop listening. Simple as that. With so many good artists out there who aren’t abusive and who deserve our money lining their pockets instead, there’s no need to continue to support people like XXXTentacion. If you choose to buy "?" knowing everything we know, then I think you need to be asking yourself some pretty tough questions.