Untouchable: A Dialogue on Domestic Violence, XXXTentacion, and Artist Accountability
“She’s lying bro.” Or maybe she’s not.
When discussing domestic violence, the conversation can become double-sided, defending both women victims as well as men victims. For the love and law of debate, it might seem plausible to play Devil’s Advocate and give notice to alternative situations to the issue at hand; alternative being the cases that are not as common (men).
As practical as it may seem, counter-arguments can be abused in a trolling manner to draw away from the main issues and groups affected by the issues. This has been the case with domestic violence in the United States against women. Even though men have indeed been victims, women of various demographics across the board are more disproportionately battered, traumatized or killed as a direct result of domestic violence by men.
Thus, when women are speaking about their daily struggle for survival with something as simple as not giving a man their phone number or the dangers of being catcalled trying to get from point A to B, we as a society should actually listen to what they are crying out instead of victim blaming and always wanting to enforce counter-arguments. In order to see a better world where our sisters are not living in a constant terrorizing environment where they are beaten for the most trivial reasons, it is time that we have this conversation for Domestic Violence Awareness month.
Even though he had his own set of misogynistic and patriarchal perpetuating problems, the duality of Hip Hop figure Tupac Shakur allowed for the pushing of much needed conversations to change the toxic paradigms in place. In 2014, a mini viral video surfaced on social media showing rapper Young Thug’s comments on rappers speaking about social issues, in reference to the fatal shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MI. Young Thug said “No” in the response to the interviewer amongst other things in regards to rappers speaking about social issues. The video then cuts to a clip of Tupac Shakur when he was alive, ironically being the same age as Young Thug in the previous clip, speaking about how rappers should not claim to be “real” if they are not speaking about issues in the communities. Shakur also spoke on the importance of listening to lyrics.
This all is not to impose a Neoclassical and conservative view of freedom of expression in Hip Hop and music in general, but if we are overlooking violent, toxic, and problematic concepts being spread en masse by artists as their lifestyle does not reflect matching positivity to the communities they reach out to, then why in the world are we supporting them? We give our favorite artists passes and excuses because of the music they have contributed to the culture and its infectious energies, feelings, and candid stories. Sometimes by doing so, we sacrifice the self-respect and humanity of our brothers and sisters on an altar of beats and rhymes.
The remixes to “Ignition” and “Step in the Name of Love” are timeless, but I cannot continue to support an artist that perpetuates such behavior to my Black sisters. Taking this stand once coming of age did not at all compromise my music tastes or the sounds I enjoy. I can still dance, turn up, and recite lyrics with friends without having the name attached to someone who is adding to the problem more than they are the good.
We sacrifice the self-respect and humanity of our brothers and sisters on an altar of beats and rhymes.
Ignoring the signs and stories one after another is the exact same concept of how we let dirty laundry in our family’s growing generations to develop unchecked as “that’s just the way it is,” developing to such a rancid fester that will stick with us because it was failed to be addressed. You can say all you want in regards to “We shouldn’t assume,” or “We don’t know all the facts” but in that same vein, you help to give temporary pass after temporary pass to victims that should be heard. These sorts of statements sound extremely reminiscent of what news outlets say as what is said of privileged groups when Blacks are disproportionately killed in cold blood by the police. But “we don’t have all the facts,” right? It becomes important to take our sisters seriously (and in the same vein our brothers as well) when they are crying out for our help and presenting evidence after evidence, especially when enough evidence pops up.
This conversation about domestic violence and artist accountability becomes important in analyzing the case of XXXTentacion, a Florida rapper gaining viral popularity in the last couple of months. The young gentleman’s music is heavily infectious with its elements of Metal/Screamo mixed in with Trap and accompanying anime music videos throughout social media that sparked his popularity. As wild as the lyrics may seem, the energy is noteable, at the very least from both more energetic tracks to his ballads .
XXXTentacion’s fanbase adores him, regardless of his different transgressions and plights, because of his realism in describing his faith and pain from his rather traumatic life. It meets Tupac’s statement of being “real,” but what of the community aspect? It is difficult to discuss XXXTentacion without his notoriety. His faith is something that is honestly none of my business or anyone else’s, but the violence he encourages and perpetuates onto others IS. You keep hearing stories on what is and what is not true, but the narratives begin to become consistent. His fans across the board will explain it as defamation and explain the justification for the rage and violence and his lyrics, even with the article by Pitchfork that surfaced last month regarding him domestically abusing his girlfriend at the time.
The detailed report was finally released to the public one morning and the accounts were so meticulous from a primary source, that its legitimacy should have been at least have been considered by the masses. Still, individuals took to dismiss this article and XXXTentacion’s actions, talking about to focus on the music and to not associate the artist’s real life with their real life behavior. This is the intersecting problem with artist accountability, domestic violence, lack of support of victimized groups, and more issues of our society. We make excuses for these behaviors with no real solutions as these problems fester and continue to eat away at our communities and people closest to us. Even more recently by the date of the posting of this article, when it was speculated that Young Thug’s fiancée was going to look for other partners after their relationship ended, Young Thug put out a tweet in response to the situation saying “Bitch I’ll kill u!” Again, individuals will overlook this as a simple tweet, but these types of statements are the start to how thousands of women are battered and killed each and every day. If you have chosen neutrality, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
I identify as a heterosexual man myself and I take no offense when I see the “men are trash” social media posts. I know that the statements come from years of oppression, abuse, marginalization and other systematic forms of sexism while men tell them that their complaints are not as real as they would think (sounds reminiscent of race politics does it not?) It is so simple to avoid the “men are trash” descriptions: Don’t be trash. It is more simple than one thinks. A woman does not have to be your sister, mother, or friend for you to give her the humane respect she deserves. If you, as a man, can start the change on an individual basis by correcting yourself, your brothers that slip sometimes, and not financially supporting those that spread messages of any harm being done to women, then we can begin to see the utopia we all strive for.