The Grammys have historically snubbed artists they deem controversial but the Recording Academy’s refusal to acknowledge Jahseh Onfroy — otherwise known as XXXTentacion — from the “In Memoriam” segment during Sunday night’s broadcast came as a shock.
According to Variety, representatives close with the 21-year-old South Florida rapper, who was shot dead in the front seat of his car back in June 2018, claim that the Recording Academy were given numerous requests to include XXXTentacion, but ultimately decided to exclude him from the segment due to his criminal history and allegations of domestic abuse.
“We track those we lose in our industry in any given year and then we have a process by which we go through it, ” Academy President Neil Portnow said in a December interview with Rolling Stone, when asked whether X would be considered. ”I don’t have any answers for you now, but obviously artists who were prominent and well-known by the public are people who are recognized and we’ll just wind up having to see how it plays out.”
Fans and supporters of the angsty young millennial rap star were outraged by the Academy’s recent decision to exclude X and reacted vocally on social media.
The allegations, which were eventually discharged following the rapper’s death, predominantly stem from an incident back in October 2016. XXXTentacion was charged with domestic abuse, aggravated battery of a pregnant woman and false imprisonment stemming from a series of alleged attacks on an ex-girlfriend.
Based on the 142-page transcript of testimony obtained by Pitchfork in September 2017, the alleged victim detailed how she found out that she was pregnant with his child. According to the transcript, she claims X was paranoid the child was not his, and threatened to kill her and the unborn child before “he head-butted her, punched her, stomped on her, and put her in the bathtub, where he continued hitting and kicking her.”
X plead not guilty to the charges, but did not live to see the case through.
To further complicate matters XXXTentacion was previously arrested for a separate incident and was charged with home invasion, robbery, and aggravated battery with a firearm, which he pleaded no contest to in March 2017 and was ordered to serve six years of probation.
The Recording Academy’s decision also follows the controversy at the 2018 BET Awards last October, when Vic Mensa decided to throw shade toward the deceased musician during his televised freestyle. When it later revealed that his mother, Cleopatra Bernard, was in attendance, Mensa responded with his condolences in a video on Instagram.
In the video, he states that he is still vehemently opposed to ”the trend in hip-hop of championing abusers.”
Despite the allegations, the young artist had a unique sound and talent that attracted millions of listeners and for an organization that represents the arts, last Sunday’s awards ceremony showed that the Grammys are still not as open-minded as they claim.
XXXTentacion’s music would help redefine what we will so often see classified as ”Soundcloud” or ”emo” rap.
His posthumous album, Skins, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts late last year. This was not the first time he would score a No. 1 record either. His previous albums,? and 17, would also break into the Top 10 at No. 1 and 2, respectively.
At a certain point, it is important for mainstream media outlets to recognize that it’s not its place to convict. We seem quick to assume guilt and it is socially and morally irresponsible to try and cast judgment of someone who isn’t even alive to defend themselves.
XXXTentacion was very vocal about his determination to turn his life around. Among other things he was very vocal on the need for gun reform following the shooting at Parkland High School. He even dedicated his song “Hope” towards the victims of the tragedy. It was released following a benefit concert in Broward County, the proceeds from which were given to the victims’ families.
Artists have also expressed their discontent with the Academy’s indecision whether or not to include someone who dedicated himself to the craft.
Producer 9th Wonder was even quoted in a story for TMZ, but later clarified on Twitter that he was not “pissed,” as the story indicated and that the statement was prompted by the reporter.
Nevertheless, he was right… the Recording Academy are not experts in criminal justice and they perhaps shouldn’t be so quick to cast judgment.
The unfortunate thing about award shows is the fact that the moment has already passed. Even if the Grammy’s were to issue an apology to the artist’s fans and supporters it doesn’t change the fact he was snubbed or the fact that fans will remain disappointed.
Originally published via Medium.com