Future Stars: XXXTentacion (Bad Vibes Forever)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

20-year-old rapper XXXTentacion released his latest album ? this month, and a day later, he was the no.1 artist on Spotify worldwide with over twice as many streams as Post Malone, Drake or Kendrick Lamar (Note: I didn’t forget to fill in the name of his album – it is actually called ?). After a difficult childhood, he discovered music and released his first EP in 2014, age 16. However, he was sent to jail two years later for a number of violent crimes. After his release in 2017, he broke the Billboard Hot 100 with single Look At Me, went on his first US tour, and achieved a Platinum-selling hit with Jocelyn Flores. He is involved in constant controversies, from a feud with Drake to regular riots at his gigs, and he was on house arrest for further violent crimes until just last week. Based on these incidents, you might expect his music to be aggressive and angry, but in fact it’s more sombre and morose – his latest hit is aptly called SAD!. It’s impossible to applaud the success of someone with XXXTentacion’s history, which includes severe domestic abuse, but it’s interesting to consider why he is so popular – do rap fans relate to his depressive lyrics or do they simply love the drama of his life? I think it’s probably a bit of both.

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