Editor’s Note: ‘LOOK AT ME: XXXTentacion’ contains sensitive content discussing emotional abuse, mental health challenges, domestic violence and other serious topics. The documentary urges viewers to “pause if they need to,” and offers further aid and mental health resources at NAMI.org.
The inimitable Jahseh Onfroy was — and still is — a beaming light for self-expression, owning his truth no matter how jarring the circumstance.
At the time of his passing in 2018, XXXTENTACION’s legacy as one of the most forward-thinking and inspiring artists of our generation ultimately came at an irreversible cost. As 17 and ? have etched their way into music history — changing the dichotomy of the culture and its discourse entirely — the slain South Florida legend’s documentary “LOOK AT ME: XXXTentacion” is an intrepid, scathing look into the life of the positive yet polarizing XXX.
The documentary not only details X’s triumphs and tribulations, but led in his 25-track tribute album. Released on June 10, the film’s companion LP contains classic album cuts and SoundCloud gems alike, as Kanye West’s “True Love” is the only new offering on the soundtrack. Side One sees all these underground tracks on streaming platforms for the very first time as Side Two includes a slew of X’s greatest hits.
Exclusively released on Hulu (May 26), the Fader Films-produced flick originally premiered at SXSW ‘22 in Austin, Texas earlier this year. Directed by Sabaah Folyan, LOOK AT ME gives viewers a closer glimpse — and full disclosure — at the troubled yet beautiful life X led, as the “focus doc” magnifies the raw, unfiltered sensibilities heard all throughout the late-artist’s discography.
Told from the perspectives of his innermost circle, his mother Cleopatra is the most integral to his backstory, as Ski Mask The Slump God, former collective Members Only, close collaborator and producer John Cunningham, manager Solomon, aunt, ex-girlfriends and more all make appearances to provide context to his life. X’s willingness to bare his soul and unabashedly speak his mind are a token to his talent as a once in a lifetime creative. However, there’s more to X’s story than just the music, detailing his humble beginnings, profound perspectives, legendary live shows, the SoundCloud era of rage-rap — among more serious topics.
His struggles with mental health and depression are a central theme to LOOK AT ME, as the doc also provides every angle to X’s emotional and mental turmoil. He was outspoken on these topics, though — regularly going on live streams to talk with his fans about his issues, always saying you’re not “ALONE”; a mantra for X’s battles with his psyche. The film further illustrates Jah’s hardships by diving into his alleged domestic abuse case, prison stints, tampering charges and regular fits of violence that further drew on his plights with diagnosed bi-polar.
He was only 20-years-old at the time of his death, and now, a question that has plagued his career rings true now more than ever: Can you separate the art from the artist? X answers that for you in a never-before-seen interview with The Fader, believing that it is more important for those to look at him not as a character or entertainer, but as a human being.
Despite the excitement of LOOK AT ME’s release, X’s estate has been repeatedly questioned by both media and fans in recent years based off the handling of his unreleased music and image. Yet, LOOK AT ME seems to have righted their wrongs, catching ground from the rushed rollouts of SKINS (2018) and Bad Vibes Forever (2019) in years’ prior.
On Jahseh’s 24th birthday (Jan. 23), his family initially announced “exciting plans” for 2022, as they are set to bring his unofficial SoundCloud archives to digital streaming platforms. The first was 2014’s “vice city” — a fan favorite amongst his underground discography that has amassed over 70 million plays on SoundCloud.
Similarly, his sophomore album, ?, is the most streamed project in Spotify history, accumulating over 32 Billion total streams (all platforms) and holds one of 78 songs to ever be certified Diamond by the RIAA. As “SAD!” as it may be, LOOK AT ME embodies Jah’s raw approach to life in every way — bringing new truths to his legacy while offering an important perspective and awareness to mental health that will stand the test of time.
Simply put, LOOK AT ME is a must-watch. It heightens every emotion you endure as you take in Jah’s meteoric rise and cataclysmic fall from grace. One thing is for certain, though, X was ahead of his time — still inspiring change and radiating positivity from beyond life’s threshold.
Long live Jahseh Onfroy.
Listen to X’s tribute album below!