Recently, a celebrity rapper XXXTentacion (née Jahseh Onfroy) was shot in his car in broad daylight. He was officially confirmed dead at the hospital that day. Jahseh was only 20 years old when he died. Usually when a musician as young and as popular as Jahseh dies there is a great outpouring of grief and mourning, however, this was not the case. Admittedly, there were many fans lamenting his sudden passing, but there were also people celebrating his death.
Jahseh was always a problematic celebrity, even as a child he was aggressive, but quiet. As a teenager he was arrested for robbery and was assaulted with a deadly weapon, however, these were not the worst of his crimes. When Jahseh was 17 years old in juvenile detention he admitted to brutally beating his inmate and smearing the inmate’s face with his blood. The cellmate was gay and had allegedly looked at Jahseh while he was undressing.
Jahseh went on to gleefully recount the beating and his attempt on the man’s life. His second scandal relates to his ex-girlfriend, whom he allegedly brutally beat while she was pregnant and threatened to sexually assault her with a barbecue fork. He was arrested for witness tampering, false imprisonment and domestic battery, but was released on bail. I should note that Jahseh denied these claims and the issue was still due for court up until his untimely death.
Now that you have context, you understand why some people refused to mourn his death. However, I think the most interesting fallout from his murder is the polarity in responses. It really begs the question: “Are some sins unredeemable?” Since his violent deeds Jahseh has held charity events for domestic violence victims, he has produced chart-topping songs and has donated musical instruments to disadvantaged schools. The cynic in me wants to point out that this could all be PR stunts to clean up the image of his violent past, but I digress.
I’ve seen artistes such as Jidenna compare XXXTentacion to Malcolm X, who also had a violent past. Some people feel that had Jahseh lived, he might have continued his path to redemption and be great, however, we will never know. Technically, Jahseh was not redeemed, but he was on his way to redemption. Does he deserve sympathy for his efforts, or were his misdeeds too horrific? Are there some crimes that no matter what good deeds you do, cannot be forgiven?
Sometimes we like to classify humans in black and white terms; good people versus bad people. However, in reality there is no such thing. A person can do great things and still be capable of great evil, it is important that we do not lose sight of that. If someone brutally murders a child but regularly donates to charity, does the murder become less severe? People who commit terrible crimes think this way. They believe that their good deeds will undo their terrible crimes. If you don’t believe me look at serial killers.
They almost always lead model citizen lives, while committing monstrous deeds in the dark, all in some misguided attempt to atone for their sins. Was Jahseh pretending to care, or was he genuinely trying to undo his violent past? We will never know because death is final.
Personally, I was apathetic to his death. I felt no joy, nor did I feel sorrow as I’ve never listened to any of his music. His family, friends and fans are allowed to grieve for their loss. His music helped thousands of people and for that I respect him.
Rest in peace Jahseh.