Rap can be so exhausting sometimes. The constant need for eyes and validation. A timeline so busy that you must be fully engaged in order to keep up with the constant conversation. A culture that shifts daily at lightening speed. Timeline’s that are filled with comparisons and hate, reactions and opinions. I’m tired. I’m worn out. June 18th 2018 slightly after 3PM, was unbearable. It would last late into the night.
Yesterday XXXTentacion was gunned down in his car, not far from where he grew up. In many ways X represents rap’s tumultuous history. One that is hard to escape from, especially when it is repeated over and over again. Abuse, rape, violence, and murder. A sickening cycle glorified by some, demonized by others. It seems from the outside that X’s life was a direct result of his childhood. His mom kept him at arms length, he didn’t know his father, in and out of juvenile facilities for years. He experienced things a majority of his fan base never could imagine. A persona that was so strong and powerful, suburban white kids couldn’t help but be attracted to it. His brand was dangerous, loud, unrelenting. I was so repulsed by the allegations of his ex-girlfriend I couldn’t be a fan. But I couldn’t help being captivated by his rise to prominence. His music wasn’t afraid of anything, so why should he? He literally came from nothing, from the bottom. His music was sad, painful, angry, beautiful, and incredibly tarnished.
What makes rap important is how many different stories can come from it. Much of what is commercialized is beautifully packaged, consumer addicted, high fashion rap. A facade of the imagery we glorify on our timelines and our Instagram stories. Very rarely do we get an artist so painfully transparent as X which is why his death is so sad. The 20 year old was definitely wise beyond his years, and yet still had so much growing up to do. Many around him talked about how that transition was taking place recently. He was more at peace then ever.
I felt the need to write this, a tweet just didn’t seem like it could do this justice. I’m not even sure where I’m going with it. I think we need to do a better job at how we handle cases like X. I genuinely feel that musicians are a special breed. More vulnerable than most, depression and anger has given us a look inside some of the worlds most iconic and influential artists. It’s safe to say that X is one of those influential cases, right or wrong.
The accusations of abuse, assault, and rape should never be forgotten, because the victim most definitely will not forget them. There is something to be learned from every person’s story. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to learn from X’s yet. Maybe time will tell. Until then I’m exhausted. Because this feeling that I have is stronger than anything the music has given me lately. And that is sad.