This article contains descriptions of domestic violence some may find disturbing.
Rapper XXXTentacion’s estate announced on Nov. 9 that a posthumous album is set to be released Dec. 7, titled “Skins.” The album consists of 10 tracks and features a song with Kanye West.
Twitter feeds worldwide buzzed on June 18, 2018, with news of the musician's death. The artist was shot several times during a robbery and died due to complications of the injury in the hospital. Controversy spouted when users began to debate with each other the validity of those mourning — public opinion on the rapper ranged from those who saw him as a musical legend, to those who believed his past actions should make society remember as a “monster.”
XXX, whose real name is Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy, first became a controversial public figure in 2016. He was arrested for physically abusing his former girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time. The victim has come forward with several other recounts of domestic abuse at his hands, including the previously mentioned incident in which he had strangled her until she almost passed out and assaulted her so severely that her left eye had swollen shut. In a tape discovered by Pitchfork, he admitted to the abuse, as well as the stabbing of nine people.
Onfroy also received backlash after admitting on the “No Jumper” podcast that he tried to kill his cellmate in a juvenile detention center because he was gay.
When it comes to posthumous albums, I believe the intention of record labels and estates is to allow fans to continue to enjoy an artist’s music, even in their death (and of course, profit off this continued connection). Releases such as “Lioness: Hidden Treasures” (the posthumous album of Amy Winehouse) and “Piano and A Microphone 1983” (Prince) master this by offering to the public unheard music that makes it seem, even if it’s just for a moment, that the artist is still alive.
With this in mind, I strongly disagree with Onfroy’s estate’s decision to release a posthumous album. Not only is it completely unnecessary, but disregards the people affected by his actions. We can’t pretend that what he did didn’t happen just so we can continue to enjoy his music and do so with a clean conscience. The estate can’t do the same for the sake of revenue. Ignoring acts of domestic violence and homophobia, especially those committed by celebrities, simply adds insult to injury for the community that is affected by these actions.
Giving celebrities passes for their illegal and inappropriate actions builds a society in which those with wealth and power can get away with whatever they please. This is already seen in the case of the large amount of domestic violence occurrences in the NFL. Players who commit domestic violence, yet get away with it, do so under the eyes of executives who care more about winning games and earning revenue then dealing repercussions to their star players. This, as well as what is seen with Onfroy, creates a toxic environment in which women are quieted for the sake of the entertainment and profit of others.
The legacy of artists like Amy Winehouse and Prince continue to live on in today’s society, with fans still cherishing the talent they brought to the industry. XXXTentacion’s legacy, which was riddled with homophobia and abuse, should not do the same. We can’t ignore someone’s pitfalls just because they make decent music.
Edited by Siena DeBolt | firstname.lastname@example.org