XXXTentacion Thoughts: Hip-Hop Artists Reflect On The Late Rapper’s Legacy
It’s hard to know whether XXXTentacion ever believed that he would become a modern-day hip-hop legend. Following his untimely murder at the age of twenty, millions of fans found themselves mourning a generational talent, left to reflect on the void left in his wake. It didn’t take long for legions to rally behind his music, and before long, both 17 and ? were multiplatinum records, two of the thirty-two plaques currently in his name. Though he was only active in the rap game for a few short years, it’s clear that he left a lasting impression, one that continues to be felt to this day.
In his lifetime, Triple X was divisive. Where his musicianship and versatility were praised, many found it difficult to reconcile some of the darker aspects of his personal life. His complicated criminal history was a frequent topic of discussion. His seeming desire to repent, less so. Fans who followed his many video updates believed in XXXTentacion’s willingness to grow as a man. Others retained a more cynical outlook, deeming his past sins unforgivable. These complexities made him one of popular culture’s fascinating figures, one that sparked passionate responses from either side.
Before long, the young Floridian was rising in notoriety, catching attention from the rap game at large. Some even reached out as collaborators and fans of his work, though more often than not a safe distance was kept. In the wake of his death, however, the floodgates appeared to open. Every artist had an opinion on the late rapper or at least felt more comfortable voicing their existing thoughts. At this point, a wide number of artists have shared their thoughts on XXXTentacion, whether he was alive to hear them or not.
We’ve compiled a compendium of the rap game’s myriad takes on XXXTentacion, an artist that captivated an entire generation. Check them out below.
Jason Koerner/Getty Images
When asked about Triple X by DJ Whoo Kid, 50 admitted he wasn’t familiar with the rapper’s music. He did, however, have some thoughts on the coverage following his death. “It’s sad cause he was young,” says 50. “He was just really taking off in his career. A lot of places he had a number one album, but they wouldn’t cover it because of his legal issues. You see Spotify switched up, now they back on his dick — fuck out of here with that shit. I’d be like, man, take my shit off your playlist bitch.”
Following the news of Triple X’s murder, Big Sean was among those to share his condolences on social media. “My heart dropped when I heard about @xxxtentacion,” he wrote. “I feel like we only got to see a glimpse of his artistry. I didn’t know him personally but I respect how passionate he was about his music and message. Nobody deserves this kind of ending. gone too soon, damn! RIP”
Following Triple X’s death, Dame Dash took a moment to make a bold prediction. “[He’s] definitely going to be looked at from this 15 to 25-year-old generation as Tupac and Biggie,” explained the mogul, speaking with All Hip-Hop. While he did predict that the young generation would ultimately worship the rapper’s memory for years to come, he reflected on the perils of pursuing darker subject matter in one’s artistry. “You speak things into existence, but there’s a gift and a curse with that,” explains Dash. “You got to be careful what you say. And for some reason, this generation seems to be infatuated with death, and getting there faster, and I don’t understand why.”
A close friend of Triple X — the pair once lived together at Denzel’s ULT House in Florida — Denzel has spoken on the rapper’s memory at length. While there are plenty of reflections scattered throughout various interviews, his stop at The Breakfast Club featured quite an insightful breakdown on the many stages of XXXTentacion. “There were different eras of X,” he explained. “There was Black Hair era, where he was coming up, doing his thing, making music. Then you have the Blonde & Black era, and that’s where all the crazy stuff started happening with allegations, trials, shows, riots, the Rob Stone situation, everything.”
“Then it went to White Hair X, where he got the tree on his forehead and shaved his eyebrows,” continues Denzel. “That was his evolving state. Then he went to Indigo X. The last time we talked, he said the reason he changed his hair, and tried to do things differently, is because he understood how it was to be a bad person, and how easy it was. He wanted to change.”
Though Drizzy never openly discussed the late rapper– it should be noted that the pair were previously embroiled in a short-lived but disrespectful beef — he actually connected with Ski Mask The Slump God following Triple X’s death. There, Ski Mask revealed that Drake “actually liked X’s music a lot,” though not much more was said on the matter.
In an interview with Billboard, Cole revealed that he and X actually got to know one another on an extensive FaceTime call. “I spoke to him on FaceTime one day in February for, like, three hours,” explained Cole. “His management reached out to Ib and asked if he could FaceTime me or call me. It was a super intense conversation. He left a mark on me, just as a person.”
He also revealed that while he immediately recognized the artistic brilliance, he did acknowledge that Triple X had his own challenges to overcome. “He was praising me while also saying he was going to achieve whatever it is he felt that I had,” reflects Cole. “I’ve dealt with mentally ill people in my life before, many of them. And right away, I notice that this kid is super passionate and smart, but I could also see that he was so deep in his mind.”
Despite the disturbing allegations of abuse that XXXTentacion was facing, Cole still felt sympathetic to the young rapper. “Because anybody who would do the shit that he did, hurt people,” he reflects. “I’ma be sympathetic to a kid who has clearly been through so much fucked-up shit that he inflicted this on someone else.” After his death, the Dreamville rapper took to Twitter to reflect on the game’s loss. “This got me fucked up,” wrote Cole. “RIP X. Enormous talent and limitless potential and a strong desire to be a better person. God bless his family, friends and fans.”
No stranger to spotting talent, So-So Def founder Jermaine Dupri was among those to mourn XXXTentacion following his death. “It’s crazy!!” wrote the legendary producer. “I hit usher when I herd his new album and told him XXX was so much more talented than I thought and he was gonna turn into something serious! This is sad for so many reason. My prayers go out to his family.”
During an interview on The Cruz Show, Juice WRLD opened up about a FaceTime conversation he had with Triple X prior to his passing. “Me and him, we didn’t really see eye to eye,” admits Juice. “We had a couple deep conversations and shit. I ain’t never meet him in person, we planned on linking up…I FaceTimed him, cause he said something the day before and I was like Ah yeah, you was right about that.”
Following Triple X’s death, Kanye West offered his condolences on Twitter. “Rest in peace,” he wrote. “I never told you how much you inspired me when you were here. Thank you for existing.” And while some accused Kanye of doing too much to honor the late rapper, especially given his hesitance to co-sign Triple X during his lifetime, Yeezy also did come through to design a shirt for the posthumous XXXTentacion clothing capsule.
It certainly appears that Kendrick Lamar was a fan of Triple X. Following the release of 17 in August of 2017, Kendrick shared his appreciation for the project on his Twitter page. “ Listen to this album if you feel anything,” he wrote. “Raw thoughts.” Following that, it was later reported that when Spotify attempted to remove XXXTentacion’s music from their playlists — a decision enforced through the “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct” policy — Kendrick was quick to voice frustration with the streaming giant.
One of the rare artists to have actually collaborated with XXXTentacion (they worked together on the song “Roll In Peace,”) Kodak has spoken about his relationship with XXXTentacion on occasion. From the sound of it, Triple X actively tried to warn Kodak Black about some of his choices, warning him that his decisions may ultimately lead to negative consequences. “He was hollering at me right before I [went to jail] in January,” reveals Kodak, during an interview with 1035 TheBeat. “He was like ‘you have demons around you.’ He was lacing me about homeboys, how I need to move, stuff like that.”
The host, Papa Keith, cites his own interview with Triple X, during which the rapper was quick to show Kodak love and defend his name against some of the critics. “He gained my respect this year,” continues Kodak. “When I finally got on the phone with him, to chop it up, I was like that’s real.” Kodak proceeds to admit that he can’t listen to Triple X’s music anymore, though he didn’t exactly beforehand.
Despite having secured several posthumous vocals from Triple X, Weezy was initially unfamiliar with the young rapper. In fact, when Elliot Wilson asked about the collaboration Wayne kept it a buck. “Y’all know I don’t listen to nothin’ else but myself cause I work too much, so I didn’t know who XXXTentacion was,” reflects Wayne. “So Mack had to explain the whole story to me right then and there. I had to Google. I figured everything out, and it was easy. It wasn’t about yes or no — it was about let me get my verses together.” Later, Weezy took to IG to wish Triple X a happy birthday, captioned “the world misses you slime.”
LIL UZI VERT
While they never collaborated in an official capacity, it’s clear that Uzi had his eye on Triple X, speaking on the Floridian shortly after attending his memorial service. “Out of all n*ggas, he is my only competition and I’m talking about XXX,” he declared, from atop the stage. “I had to go pay my respects,” he continued, queuing up “Look At Me” on the speakers. “And I’m going to my respects right now.”
Later, Uzi expressed interest in launching a foundation in Triple X’s honor, addressing his intention in a since-deleted tweet. “I don’t care if you didn’t know him he is part of the hip hop / rock community I NEED HELP from celebrities Please,” he wrote, in the final week of June 2018. “Trust me this fund/foundation will be for all young entertainers and young men and women that die from gun violence etc. Think about your families [sic] future I know I am… We can buy chains and watches and cars WE ALSO CAN DONATE AND GIVE AND SUPPORT.”
“I feel like God send certain people down to help other people,” explained NLE Choppa, speaking on XXXTentacion during a No Jumper interview. “To be there for them. Help them get through something….His music, when you describe his music, it’s like beautiful really. He made beautiful music.” He clarifies that he never used to listen to Triple X’s music, until he came to realize the impact it had on his mood. “I started to use music to heal me mentally. He was one of the first artists I picked up and started to listen to.”
As one of the few to actively collaborate with XXXTentacion while he was alive, PnB Rock was able to develop an actual relationship with him. The news of Triple X’s death hit him particularly hard as a result, and PnB took a moment to eulogize his fallen friend with an emotional video flashback. “Just found out me and bro went “Platinum” wit this record,” he captions, alongside studio footage of their “Changes” session. “It’s not even the same tho because i didn’t get a feelin of happiness when i heard but instead i just cried because we ain’t even get to share our moment together.”
“He’s so musical man it was amazing working with this guy and his spirit was just unmatchable,” writes Rock. “This was my brother. he checked me when i did stupid shit & i truly miss him for so many other reasons. Ya name gon live forever bro.”
During his lifetime, XXXTentacion spent the early years of his career juggling no shortage of heated feuds. Evidently, one of his biggest was with Rob Stone, a long-running saga that led to diss tracks and spontaneous on-stage violence. As it happens, however, Triple X decided to extend an olive branch to his former sparring partner, a conversation later shared by Rob Stone on Instagram. Alongside the clip, Stone penned a message eulogizing the slain rapper.
“I would never wish death upon another human being,” he wrote. “We had our differences and battles in the field but at the end of it all, X reached out to me like a man and we talked it out, like men. I wasn’t ever with posting this out man but I feel like the both of our supporters need to hear this for closure. Please let him rest peacefully. I pray all young artists, including myself, will use this unfortunate situation as motivation to stop the violence and focus on bettering the world we live in. RIP xxxtentacion.”
SKI MASK THE SLUMP GOD
Given the long and highly personal history between Ski Mask The Slump God and XXXTentacion, there is a wealth of material to draw from. The pair originally met while in a juvenile detention center and went on to become fast friends, frequently working together and holding it down as a team in interviews throughout their musical ascent. Rather than attempting to draw a pearl of wisdom from one particular clip or another, it feels appropriate to share an interview that Ski and X did with ELEVATOR in 2017. It’s likely that many fans are already familiar with this endearing and refreshingly wholesome half-hour video, but it goes a long way in establishing their dynamic and the mutual respect they shared.
Prior to X’s passing, Tech N9ne was actually fielding many requests to collaborate with him and Ski Mask The Slump God. Tech revealed as much to Adam 22 during a No Jumper interview, claiming that Triple X once told him that he and Eminem were the reasons he started rapping to begin with. “I know Tentacion can rap,” praises Tech. “I heard it.” Sadly, Adam’s dream to see XXXTentacion make it to his forties hits all the harder in hindsight. “He’ll be alright,” says Tech. “He’ll be alright.”
Later, when XXX was killed, Tech took to Instagram to voice his frustration. “Man FUCK! I’m tired of this shit! 20 fuckin years old man! He told me that me and Eminem made him want to rap! I’m fucked up about this shit.” He later went on to pay homage to X on his Enterfear song “Outdone.”
Shortly after Triple X’s death, The Game took to Instagram to pen an emotional homage. “For some reason, he been heavy on my heart since the day he died,” wrote The Game, alongside an image of the murdered rapper. “Don’t know what exactly my heart is trying to convey but I definitely feel an obligation to protect this new generation of artist. In studio thinkin bout all y’all… be creative, live life, have fun, enjoy your moment & try your hardest to bob & weave thru the madness.”
He later explained why he felt compelled to salute X, revealing his motivation during an interview with Big Boy. “It was important for me to show [XXXTentacion] love because he gave his life — he didn’t die when he wasn’t a hip-hop artist, he died after he was a hip-hop artist and the lure of being a hip-hop artist made his murderers go after the name,” reflects Game. “They weren’t after Jahseh, they were after XXX. That dude was so talented. I feel like, by now, he would have been, like, Travis Scott level.”
“Yo, rest in peace X,” said Tory, in an Instagram Live story following Triple X’s death. “I can’t even believe this n**a gone. I didn’t know you too well, but it felt like I knew you through the music my n***a. I felt like I lost a n***a today. We lost a good n***a today.” It should be noted that Tory and X were supposed to have collaborated on Love Me Now?, though the duet never actually materialized. “The record’s a very dope record, but the clearance and the business side didn’t let me clear it in time,” explained Tory, to Big Boy. “Hopefully we get to get it out soon so everybody can hear it.” Unfortunately, that day has yet to come.
In April of 2018, after Triple X came through with his sophomore album ?, Young Thug took to Instagram to invite XXXTentacion to collaborate. “I want ya’ll to tag XXXTentacion,” he captioned, highlighting a track in his IG story. “He’s really dope. I want him featured on this.” Not long after, X slid into Thugger’s DMs and shared one and one message only: an eye emoji. Take from that what you will.
WAKA FLOCKA FLAME
Though briefly, Waka Flocka touched on XXXTentacion during a Sway In The Morning interview on October 17th, 2017. “People look at XXXTentacion like he’s crazy,” said Waka, acknowledging the apparent generational divide between X’s fans and haters. “That ni*ga’s a genius. He’s 19 years old.”