The controversial muscian whose songs climbed the charts following his shooting death inked a $10 million contract with independent music distribution company Empire and was prepping for this third musical project.
The slain rapper’s first two projects, 17 and ?, reached Billboard top 5 after his death. Two-armed gunman rushed his vehicle and unloaded a hail of bullets which ended the 20-year-old’s life.
XXXTentacion (real name Jahseh Onfroy) was unsure about his musical future. His history of abuse had him facing an upcoming court date for allegedly abusing his pregnant girlfriend.
But Empire founder Ghazi Shami, said even as X questioned his viability in the music industry after a troubled past and lagging sales, he was still willing to invest in the rapper.
“Are you sure you want to sign me, even when my streams are down?” Shami recalled XXXTentacion asking him.
“I said, ‘I believe in you; I don’t believe in playlists,’” Shami said. “‘Playlists are nice. You are a musical phenomenon.’”
“I know the person,” he later added. “My job was to nurture him and let him be the best version of himself that he could be, not to villainize him.”
In an interview with Beats 1 earlier this month, Shahim said of X’s death, “His loss is catastrophic.”
“There’s a whole generation of youth that looked to him for a voice. I think that watching him mature as a human being in just like, the 14 months that I knew him—16 months, whatever it was. I mean, to see him go from a child—he was 18 years old when I met him in the jail and did a record deal with me—to where he was at now, just before it passed away…just the conversations he was having with me, and the things that he was focused on, and the things that he wanted to accomplish, showed the potential of what he was going to contribute to the world. I think it was cut catastrophically short.”
Shahim said a significant amount of the new album was completed before X’s death. No word on when Shahim will release the posthumous project or who will benefit from its sales.