City News Service reports that several hundred people staged an impromptu memorial in Los Angeles for rapper XXXTentacion. Police eventually cleared the street. No arrests were immediately reported. XXXTentacion was killed near Miami on Monday. (June 20)
Rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death on Monday continues to resonate on the street and the Billboard charts. Here are the latest details on the investigation into his murder as well as the memorials that have emerged since.
Police: Rapper had withdrawn large amount of cash before going to dealership
Broward County sheriff’s officials said the 20-year-old, whose real name was Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, was ambushed by two suspects as he pulled his electric BMW i8 away from RIVA Motorsports in Deerfield Beach, Fla. (the dealership lists its address as Pompano Beach).
He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:40 p.m. ET Monday.
Bank records revealed that he had withdrawn cash from an ATM that day, possibly with the intention of purchasing a motorcycle.
Broward detectives have not announced any arrests. Under the category of “suspects” in its press release on the case, the sheriff’s office said only “unidentified males,” who were believed to have “fled in a dark-color SUV.”
Posthumous music sales soar
On Tuesday night, Nielsen Music revealed that on Monday alone, 33,000 copies of his digital song and album catalog were sold in the hours following his murder outside a Miami-area motorcycle dealership. That’s a jump of 1,603 percent from just one day earlier.
His single “Sad!” — the only song to crack Billboard’s top 10 while XXXTentacion was still alive — sold 6,000 copies Monday, up 1,143 percent from Sunday.
His album “?,” which has slipped to No. 24 since its chart-topping debut the week of March 31, is expected to return to the top 10 when the next Billboard chart comes out on June 30.
Spotify memorializes XXXTentacion only weeks after banning his music
One of the streaming networks memorializing XXXTentacion was Spotify, which only a month earlier had removed his music from playlists, citing a short-lived policy banning the promotion of artists who engage in “hateful conduct.” Originally, the policy singled out R. Kelly over accusations of sexual misconduct, but it later added XXXTentacion, citing pending domestic violence charges against him.
At the time of his death, he was facing trial on charges that he beat up his pregnant girlfriend, Geneva Ayala. She told The Miami New Times that he had threatened to kill her and her unborn child in early October 2016. The incident turned physical: She said he punched, slapped, head-butted and choked her. Two days later, he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery on a pregnant victim, domestic violence by strangulation and false imprisonment. Later, he was also charged with witness tampering for allegedly offering her money if she dropped the charges and threatening a friend of Ayala’s who witnessed some of his abuse.
The removal of XXXTentacious’ music from influential playlists like RapCaviar, stood to do immediate damage to the up-and-coming rapper’s career and cash flow. But within two weeks, Spotify backed down after receiving complaints and threats from representatives for Kendrick Lamar, who had once promoted XXXTentacion’s album on Twitter.
“Last month, Spotify said XXXTentacion’s behavior was so vile that it could no longer associate with him,” wrote Spin’s Andy Cush Tuesday in an essay questioning the streaming network’s integrity. “Now, it is memorializing him using the most powerful tools it has available, which will have the side effect of sending his music back up the pop charts.”
He concluded, “Ultimately, these are large for-profit companies, and their loyalties will always lie with the bottom line above any responsibility to do good, no matter how loudly they protest otherwise. Spotify may have no idea how to handle a situation as morally complex as XXXTentacion’s. The truth is that as long as we’re still listening, it doesn’t particularly need to.”
XXXTentacion mourned on both coasts
Visitors to RIVA’s website are greeted with photos of the rapper smiling alongside staffers from a previous visit overlaid with an illustration of a broken heart.
The spot where XXXTentacion was shot has become a gathering place for mourning fans, who have left behind flowers, candles and stuffed animals alongside a fence behind the dealership.
The rapper, whose stage name is pronounced “Ex Ex Ex ten-ta-see-YAWN” but was often referred by as “X” by his fans, grew up nearby in Lauderhill.
“X talked about how he felt instead of materialistic things like owning this car, this car, this house, this house,” Aaron Gavin, 20, told the Associated Press Tuesday.
Myles O’Hara, 17, acknowledged the rapper’s past run-ins with the law, but said that over the last year, “he had only been a positive influence on people’s lives, making hit Billboard songs. “He has been a kind person. You could look at his face and smile and he was just a normal kid like us … His style is almost hard to explain. He had an angry tone. He meant everything he said, even the most simplistic words. It just came off his tongue like nothing. He was speaking his mind.”
But Brandon Lang, a 29-year-old magazine owner, said XXXTentacion was not the angry man depicted in his songs or media coverage.
“He had all these mistakes that could have wound up defining him but he didn’t let that happen,” Lang said. “That is why he is connecting to all these kids because these kids are going through a really sad time, a sad world. He taught them how to cope.”
In Los Angeles, hundreds of fans turned Melrose Avenue into a mosh pit in celebration and mourning of XXXTentacion late Tuesday night.
In an impromptu memorial outside a Hollywood bike shop, fans filling the street and dancing on rooftops shouted along with his songs beneath a cloud of pot smoke.
A big painted sign in the shop window read “RIP XXX” followed by hearts.
Police closed off the street and let the party grow to nearly 500 people before calling for the crowd to clear out.
Contributing: Associated Press
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