XXXTentacion Case: A Timeline of the Accusations
Last Friday, 19-year-old rapper XXXTentacion, born Jahseh Onfroy, was jailed on seven felony charges related to witness tampering and witness harassment stemming from an ongoing domestic assault case from 2016. The victim in that case, which has been postponed several times this year as the controversial young rapper has become a mainstay on the charts, filed an affidavit in late November asking permission not to testify, and for the assault charges against Onfroy to be dropped. The prosecution reportedly doubted the authenticity of that affidavit and announced it would be splitting Onfroy’s case in two, with the rapper first facing the more legally significant charges of witness tampering. If convicted, the four first-degree and three second-degree felonies could land Onfroy in prison for decades. Here is how he got there.
On April 27, 2016, the YouTube podcast No Jumper—hosted by former BMX blogger Adam Grandmaison, which has carved out a niche for giving an early platform to all sorts of cool teenagers, including ascendant rappers—posted an interview with a still underground XXXTentacion. It is one of the more extensive (albeit, firsthand) accounts of X’s childhood in Lauderhill, Florida. His mother, he says, was always “in situations where she couldn’t take care of me… she wanted me around but she couldn’t afford me.” X’s descriptions of the violence he says mired his childhood come off as braggadocios—he smirks while describing how, at the age of six, he “bit [the] flesh out” of a man who laid his hands on his mother, stabbing him “with a glass shard”—and they’re startling in their callousness. Take, for example, the account he cites to illustrate his relationship with his mother:
XXXTentacion: [In middle school] I remember one day this bitch kept fucking with me—I don’t, say, hit girls, but I’m going to keep it 1,000, I don’t like to lie—there was this bitch that kept slapping me at school type shit. So I remember one day, obviously it’s a girl, she probably likes me or some shit, so I went to my mom and I asked her “Would you get mad if I slapped this bitch?”—well, I didn’t say it like that [laughs]—’would you get mad if I put my hands on a girl?’ [She was] like “Always give a girl three warnings, you always give a girl three warnings, and if she keeps hitting you, obviously she’s trying to harm you. And if she’s trying to harm you, then you got to go to the extent where you’ve got to handle it.”
So I remember one day this girl and her boyfriend were fucking with me at school, because I was making fun of them. I think she slapped me or some shit, and I slapped the fuck out of her, and kneed her [laughs]. And I remember from after that my mom realized how serious I took her.
In another story he relays just a few minutes later on the podcast, X describes how, while in juvenile detention for a gun possession charge, he severely beat a cellmate he suspected was gay for “staring at me,” stomping his head into the corner of a concrete bed post with the intention of killing him. Again, the way X tells it, it’s a boastful war story, more akin to something out of Apocalypse Now or Deer Hunter than an assault he committed that nearly left someone dead.
XXXTentacion: So I’m like strangling him, and he’s like leaking, leaking, leaking type shit, and I’m strangling him so he doesn’t scream… Don’t think I’m trying to be cliché or a fucking weirdo when I say this, but I was going crazy. Like, I smear his blood on my face, in my hands, I got it in my nails, bro, I had it all over me.
Grandmaison: War paint. That’s tight.
As X’s 2015 Soundcloud mixtapes and his first single, “Look at Me,” picked up attention in the months after the No Jumper interview, the industry and X’s fans responded much like Grandmaison did: with a mostly unconcerned approval. It was during this same time that X started dating the woman who would later accuse him of holding her captive and abusing her in his apartment. According to her testimony, between May and October of 2016 X repeatedly beat her and strangled her, once held a knife to her throat, and after learning she was pregnant, beat her so severely she couldn’t recognize herself in the mirror.
It was after that incident, on October 6, 2016, that X allegedly held the woman captive in his apartment, confiscating her phone and refusing to let her go to a hospital until her face healed. Two days later, while X was playing Minecraft and using Skype, she escaped by crouching behind an open refrigerator door where she wouldn’t be seen and sneaking out a side door of the apartment. X was arrested October 8 in Miami-Dade County and charged with aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, and witness tampering. He pleaded not guilty, but was detained for violating a house arrest agreement related to a 2015 home invasion, robbery, and aggravated battery case.
While in prison X started receiving overt accolades and statements of support from other artists. On January 17, 2017, during an Instagram live broadcast, A$AP Rocky rapped a few bars from “Look at Me” before proclaiming “Free my n*gga X! I can’t wait til you come home.” This was followed by Danny Brown quoting lyrics from XXXTentacion’s and collaborator Ski Mask the Slump God’s “RIP Roach” on Twitter.
On Valentine’s Day, “Look at Me” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 95. X was released from jail on probation in late March and was promptly swept up in a rap beef with one of the biggest pop stars on the planet—Drake—who was accused of stealing the “Look At Me” flow for the song “KMT.” (It’s pretty undeniable.) “Look at Me” continued to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, before finally peaking at number 24 on April 22, 2017. In May, X released “Looking for a Star,” produced by Diplo, his first major cosign outside of rap, and his first official mixtape, Revenge, entered the Billboard 200 at number 44. At a San Diego show in June, X was knocked unconscious mid-song by an audience member who rushed the stage, and in the ensuing chaos, one concert-goer suffered multiple stab wounds. In August, X’s first official album, 17, debuted on the Billboard Hot 200 at No. 2. Kendrick Lamar, an artist many consider to be the most talented lyricist in hip-hop, implored his fans and followers to give it a listen.
In September, Pitchfork published a report on the 142-page deposition given by X’s ex-girlfriend at a public defender’s office in January 2017, explicitly detailing the appalling nature of the allegations he faces. Still, this didn’t prevent the record imprint Caroline, a subsidiary of Capitol Records, from offering him a reported $6 million record contract in October. Neither did a series of disturbing videos the rapper posted to Instagram responding to critics by threatening to “fuck ya’ll little sisters in their throats … Anybody that called me a domestic abuser, I’m finna domestically abuse ya’ll little sisters’ pussy from the back.”
Two days before he was jailed last Friday, X announced he would be releasing three albums in 2018, going back on claims he made in October that he would be retiring from music. He made the announcement on Instagram, telling his millions of followers that he was “Never quitting music, that would be selfish I see how many people need me.”
On Monday, TMZ reported that the rapper was facing eight new witness tampering charges, bringing the total against him to 15. Two days later, X was released on house arrest, set to last 60 days, under which he will be allowed to leave his residence to visit the recording studio and fulfill “contractual obligations.” His lawyer has stated he intends to seek release on bond when the 60-period is over. X’s next trial date is January 24, 2018.