J. Cole

The rise of XXXTentacion underscores rap's fraught battle with the law

The rise of XXXTentacion underscores rap's fraught battle with the law

As Jahseh Onfroy turned 19 early last year, his rap career hit a new peak.

The Florida native’s homespun brand of hip-hop had already attracted a fierce cult following and the attention of major labels as his single “Look at Me” blew up. The lo-fi track with blistering (and unprintable) lyrics had clocked Soundcloud and Spotify plays by the millions, sending it up the Top 40 based almost entirely on its number of streams.

When a spat with superstar Drake, who was accused of co-opting the rhythm of “Look at Me,” put the single on mainstream radars, Onfroy — who performs as XXXTentacion (that’s “X -X -X -Ten -Tah -See -Ohn ”) — found himself the face of a movement of...

EDITION: California | U.S. & World
63°