XXXTentacion Discusses Abuse and Stabbings on Tape Released by Prosecutors

Posted October 24, 2018 1:17 p.m. EDT

Before the popular rapper and singer XXXTentacion was shot and killed in Florida this summer, the 20-year-old musician had been on an accelerated track to mainstream success, with hit songs and albums that earned him a $10 million record deal for his next release.

At the same time, the rapper faced potentially career-hobbling criminal charges — including aggravated battery of a pregnant victim, false imprisonment, domestic battery by strangulation and witness tampering — that made him one of the most contentious figures in music at the time of his death.

In public, XXXTentacion, born Jahseh Onfroy, had denied the charges. But in a newly released recording from around the time of his 2016 arrest, provided by the Miami-Dade County state attorney’s office and first reported by Pitchfork, XXXTentacion seemed to admit to abusing his former girlfriend, in addition to other violent acts.

“I put my source of happiness in another person, which was a mistake initially, right?” XXXTentacion can be heard telling a small group of unidentified people in the graphic recording. “But she fell through on every occasion until now. Until I started [expletive] her up. I started [expletive] her up because she made one mistake. And from there, the whole cycle went down.”

He added: “Now she’s scared. That girl is scared for her life. Which I understand.”

The Miami-Dade County state attorney’s office, which dropped the charges against XXXTentacion after he was killed, said in a statement: “The defendant makes admissions to multiple criminal acts in the recording.” But the office added that the tape may not have ever made it to court: “While both defense counsel and our prosecutor believed the tape had confessions of criminal activity on it, the tape would likely not have been admissible at trial because of the way it was recorded (without knowledge/consent of the other parties).”

The prosecutor’s office said it had obtained the tape from the attorney of the woman who made it; while the office identified the woman, it declined to provide additional information about her relationship to XXXTentacion.

Representatives for XXXTentacion and his estate did not respond to a request for comment.

In the 27-minute tape, XXXTentacion detailed his romantic entanglements, spoke of suicidal thoughts and took responsibility for a stabbing incident in Deerfield Beach, Florida, that had been covered in the local news. “How many people they put in the news?” he said. “They said three, it was eight.” He also referred to a stabbing in Orlando, and how it affected his former girlfriend.

“She knew,” he said. “So she’s scared. She thinks I’m going to kill her.”

Elsewhere, he added: “I disgust myself every day. And, you know? It’s funny — I love it.”

In a January 2017 deposition, XXXTentacion’s ex-girlfriend detailed a pattern of violent behavior in her relationship with the rapper, including him choking, punching, stomping and threatening to murder her. After one attack while she was pregnant, the woman said, he confiscated her phone and kept her in a bedroom for two days to heal, until she managed to escape.

As his career took off, XXXTentacion had alluded to the abuse claims in his music and repeatedly denied the charges in messages to his fanatical followers. He alternately made crude jokes about domestic violence and, in a more reflective moment, offered to donate money to domestic violence prevention programs.

“I’m insensitive because I refuse to accept a reality for myself that is not my own,” he said in one social media post. “I will not have fabricated stories pushed on me.” He added at the time: “They wanna crucify me, I ain’t having it.”

In the evidence tape, XXXTentacion also discussed his own demons with a rawness that he brought to his music. “You ever seen somebody get raped?” he said. “You ever seen somebody try to kill your mom in front of you?”

“Every night you go to sleep and you remember what you seen and you remember how it felt and you remember that horrible feeling in your soul,” he said. “Nobody can comfort you. It’s something I gotta deal with.”

Following his death, the musician has been praised widely by the industry, from rappers like J. Cole and Kanye West to executives and awards shows. At the American Music Awards this month, XXXTentacion won for best soul/R&B album — a trophy accepted by his mother — and was also nominated for best new artist of the year. At the BET Hip Hop Awards, he was named best new artist.

XXXTentacion’s album “?,” released in March and featuring the chart-topping single “Sad!,” would be eligible for Grammy nominations this year, ahead of the 2019 ceremony.

According to a close collaborator, the musician’s first posthumous album — fulfilling the $10 million deal — is in its finishing stages.