Photo courtesy of Fader Films
As the companion film to XXXTENTACION’s award-winning Hulu documentary “LOOK AT ME,” Fader Films’ uncharted look at the life and mind of Jahseh Onfroy is a true depiction of his character — no matter how you see it.
“Jahseh Onfroy died when he was in jail,” X states coldly to the camera. “Jahseh was weak. Nobody cared about Jahseh Onfroy until he took on the persona of XXX… X has desire. Jahseh Onfroy had no desires.”
XXXTENTACION didn’t mince words when talking about the evolution that’s defined him. Sometimes he doesn’t even need words to depict his emotions, signing how he truly feels about the misconceptions that surrounded his stratospheric ascent. “No. Go F**k Yourself,” he responds to people’s feelings, as there’s a smudged separation between art and the artist according to the late Florida rapper.
Cutting back and forth from never-before-seen documentary footage and his previously unreleased sit-down with The Fader (2017), “In His Own Words” is an unfiltered odyssey of X’s darkest emotions, yet finds light in the success he sees around him. X’s poetically-versed responses inject raw emotion at every turn. Chaos enveloped X’s life, but to him, chaos can always be controlled especially if it’s created. There’s purpose behind everything Onfroy says, and “In His Own Words” sees Jahseh leave nothing unsaid.
“Do I think I suffer from mental illness?”, he twists a question about mental health. “I think I’m different… this is what I want people to know. The whole point of the human race is evolution. Personally, spiritually, period. Everything is created. If you’re not evolving, you’re doing something wrong.”
While seemingly at bay with his newfound fame at this time — following “LOOK AT ME’s” chart-topping strength in 2017 — the “warfare” inside his head takes its toll in small doses throughout. X’s music, though — glaringly genreless and created for the people who aren’t happy (or “achieved self-enligtenment”) — was the change needed for him to alter his life and others positively. “I make music in a depressed state of mind for those who haven’t achieved happiness,” he says at one point, as his focused demeanor showcases the calculated nature he approaches his craft with.
There’s plenty of examples of his free-flowing mind state, evident in how X can snap into go-mode at any moment — calling a studio manager in the wee hours of the morning to start working on his album, ?, in Miami. Of other key moments, the joy and excitement he feels upon first seeing the response to “LOOK AT ME” after serving 10 months is the the first peak of many for X. The intimate conversations between him and his mother Cleo provide a glimpse into his light-hearted allure — contrasting the rather deep and starkly shot discourse with The Fader.
The constant through it all is X’s dedicated engagement with his fans, always taking the time to hop on live or write back to their DMs or comments. He stops to take pictures for hours it seems like — showing more undying love to his fanbase at his homecoming the night he was released. “My fans are my friends,” he said. “A real X fan doesn’t want a single thing from me but me.” The influence he had at 19 years old was incalculable, but his fans are what ultimately drove him to become a legend. “For those of you who actually give a f**k about what I’m thinking, this note, this is for you,” he types before deleting on his computer, willing for the self-enlightenment he wants his fans to attain through his music.
Of the many angles “In His Own Words” presents, the film moves as free as X’s mind — minimalistic yet undeterred in overall brevity of his headspace. He speaks on how prison made him strong and one with his thoughts, but admits to internally struggling regardless of fortune and notoriety. The chapter “Love and pain” emits these feelings ten-fold. “I still feel exactly the same,” he writes in another note. “The depression has not left. I need your help, now more than ever. I’m beginning to step out of my comfort zone for the sake of my friends and family. But with the art I am creating for you all, I give you the last of my pain and creativity. Then I’m quitting.”
“In His Own Words” may speak on a slew of selected topics, but it provides greater background to LOOK AT ME’s essential dose of reality. The art and the artist may live in idiosyncrasy, but X feels more attached to a higher state of mind than anything else at this stage of his life. Always wanting to give more to his fans, it’s clear that this film is something Jah wanted people to see. He speaks to you head-on. Heed his words and “the laws of universe” for you too may find peace amid pain.
Long live Jah.
“In His Own Words: XXXTENTACION” will be available via the filmmaker-controlled platform Altavod on Nov. 22. Co-directed by Lesley Steele and Rob Stone, and executive produced by Rob Stone, Cloepatra Bernard and Solomon Sobande, you can order the film domestically here and internationally here.
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