Episode One: Who is the rapper from Broward County?
XXXTentacion was on the brink of stardom before his death
Papa Keith, the radio personality at Miami's 103.5 The Beat posted a 50-minute interview online that he did with Broward County rapper XXXTentacion last year.
"I put the whole thing up on June 20, 2018," Keith said.
That was two days after Jahseh Onfroy, the rapper known as XXX Tentacion was shot and killed while he was driving out of a motorsports store in Deerfield Beach.
Keith says at the beginning of the interview: "Please just introduce yourself."
Onfroy, also known as X (we'll refer to him as X throughout the story), replies: "My names is XXXTentacion. I'm a 19-year-old Broward County artist/rapper. I explore multiple genres, so that is what has led to my prosperity and me being kind to others as well has led to my prosperity. I rep Broward County fully. Lauderhill, Florida, that's where I'm from."
Keith asks him: "Can you explain where the name XXXTentacion came from?"
X replies: "I came up with it when I was in boot camp. I mean the name itself means unknown temptation."
A Louis Vuitton bag and tons of cash
There's a photo posted on Cleopatra Bernard's Instagram account. It's of her son, Jahseh Onfroy. The picture could be an advertisement in a fashion magazine. Onfroy, the rapper from Broward County, Florida, known as XXXTentacion, has Calvin Klein model looks and perfect features.
X's father, Duane Onfroy, who spoke exclusively to The Florida Files from where he lives, St. Catherine, Jamaica, says Jahseh was always a beautiful boy.
"My first born son is Jahseh Ricardo Onfroy. My name is Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy. His name is Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy. My first son is born. When people say they have beautiful kids. Every child is beautiful to their own parents. My son was literally a beautiful boy, not a handsome boy, he was beautiful. You seen his mom. She's a beautiful woman and I fancy myself a handsome man, too. This baby was beautiful, too. Up to the age of five you couldn't tell the difference if he was a boy or a girl. I would dress him up, put on his boy clothes and boy shoes. He had a lot of hair. He had these long eyelashes like a little girl. I would take him to the Walmart, or wherever, and they would say 'what a beautiful little girl' up to the age of five."
A famously distributed mug shot from an arrest on Dec. 15, 2017 looks more like a model's headshot. X has on a collared shirt, completely buttoned up. It's one of those crisp white ones that a kid might be required to wear for private school.
Tattoos on his face are artistically placed. Most notably, the small drawing of a tree in the middle of his forehead, and writing under his left eye which says Numb. High up on the right side of his head is the number 17, a nod to his first album that was released on Aug. 25, 2017, and debuted on the No. 2 spot on Billboard's prestigious music ranking chart. The face ink gives X the mystique of a modern Adonis.
"Every tattoo has a story. I don't have a single pointless tattoo," he tells Podcast Host Adam Grandmaison, also known as Adam 22, at Grandmaison's No Jumper studios in Los Angeles in 2016.
In mom Cleo's Instagram photo, X is seated in the driver's side of a sleek coupe, a $150,000 dollar BMW I-8 -- doors open scissors style -- like the ones on the famous DeLorean DMC 12 in the 1985 movie "Back to the Future."
Slung across X's chest in that picture is a smart-looking, gray Louis Vuitton checkered bag. He's wearing a light colored flannel shirt, jeans torn in all the right places, and Timberland boots, laces open, with crew socks.
It's unclear when the photo was taken, but a message posted with the photo on July 16 from X's mom says: "Missing you every day my son."
There's a broken heart emoji next to it. 💔
That LV bag is in plenty of X's selfies. Him with the bag at the Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale. Another one, shows him sitting on the rear of the Beemer, that bag with him, as he's smiling with friend and lawyer Bob Celestin.
"He loved that bag," say close friends and fans, commenting on Twitter.
That bag could have been what led to his murder on June 18, 2018. That bag is what detectives say four men were after when they robbed and shot the 20-year-old on a Monday afternoon in broad daylight.
The Florida Files obtained the full arrest warrant that details the chilling crime. That X arrives at RIVA Motorsports, a motorcycle dealership at 3671 N. Dixie Highway, Deerfield Beach, on Monday, June 18, 2018 at 3:30 p.m. with a friend. The friend is identified in the report as Leonard Kerr.
The store's surveillance shows X and his friend entering the store at 3:31 p.m. according to a timestamp on the video.
Two minutes later, the suspects pull into the lot in an SUV, and park right near the BMW. The report says that surveillance video from the motorcycle store shows two men exit the SUV, and then go into the store at 3:33 p.m. They walk right past X where one of the men, wearing a white tank top and bright orange colored sandals, makes a cash purchase of a face mask. The two men leave the store, and get back into what is later discovered to be a 2017 Dodge Journey. The SUV sits in Riva's parking lot for 10 minutes.
The Journey leaves the lot through the north side gate at 3:48 p.m. that leads out to Northwest 37th Street, along the side of the shop. Then the driver of the SUV backs into the parking area in front of a residence across the street and a few doors down, at 641 NW 37th St.
The warrant says that the store's video surveillance had a "clear and unobstructed view" of the north gate and that residence where the Journey sits, apparently waiting for X to leave the store.
X does leave the store with his friend at 3:55 p.m., gets in the BMW, and drives out that side street gate.
The surveillance video from the store shows the SUV blocking X's car. The video picks up two men in masks exiting the passenger front and rear doors of the SUV. They are wearing hooded sweatshirts, long pants and high top sneakers. They both have guns. One of them has on a black colored mask and the other a red one.
They approach the BMW's driver's side where X is. The report says they, "demand property. After a brief struggle, the victim is shot" it says.
One of the gunmen then reaches into the car after the shooting and removes the gray Louis Vuitton cross bag. X's cell phone and $50,000 in cash are inside the bag, police say.
Joe Bamdas owns Riva Motorsports and remembers that day. In his office is a television set affixed to the wall with views of a dozen or more angles of surveillance cameras.
"If you look up here. I have employees out here that were high-fiving him. They were actually out there with other customers giving them lessons on the watercraft and teaching them how to use their motorcycles," Bamdas says. "Some of the guys here were in disbelief, they thought is this a rap video?What's going on?"
Bamdas says that X was a frequent customer, and had about "five or six motorcycles" that he had purchased previously from the motorsports shop. He says police took all of the video from the store and went through it.
"They were determined to see what happened," he says. "I'm very thankful for that. It's a tragedy. It's a tragedy. So young and so much promise."
Investigators allege that Michael Boatwright, Dedrick Williams, Robert Allen and Trayvon Newsome knew that X stopped at a Bank of America to withdraw $50,000 in cash, all in $100 bills, before driving to the Dixie Highway motorcycle shop. Broward Sheriff's Office detectives say that it is Boatwright and Newsome who confront X, while the Allen and Williams stay in the SUV.
The hours after the shooting
Detectives find a video of on one of the suspect's phones, created on June 18, 2018 at 11:20 p.m., hours after the killing. In the video, the man is seen dancing, showing off, and fanning out like playing cards, tons of cash, then he throws the money out on the floor in front of him. Another video the next day shows the same man in a car holding $100 bills in both hands, according to police.
And that Dodge Journey that blocked X's car? The SUV is involved in a hit-and-run crash in northwest Fort Lauderdale three hours after the shooting. The people in the car? They leave it and take off running.
Cops track the Journey to a woman who is close friends with Dedrick Williams, one of the suspects.
The woman says she rented the SUV from a Miramar resident on June 17, the day before X's murder, for $60 via a car rental sharing app Turo. She gives the SUV to one of the alleged robbers.
The next day, she gets a call that "Tray" wrecked the car. Tray is apparently referring to Trayvon Newsome, one of the two of the four men who police say jumped out of that SUV and ambushed X's car.
There are other things cops say link Williams, Boatwright, Newsome, and Allen to the murders.
Receipts found for purchases made in cash with eight one hundred dollar bills at a Fort Lauderdale sports clothing store. On one of the suspect's cellphones, there's a search for machine guns and AR-15 rifles. And inside one of the alleged shooters' houses, bullets that match the same spent casings recovered from the crime scene.
Father learns of death
When asked where he was the day he heard of his son's death, Dwayne Onfroy says that although he lives about 600 miles away, news travels fast.
"Everything you have in America, we have in Jamaica -- every outlet. Once news hits, we get it immediately. With social media, we have a global community. The world is big, we have a global community. Everything that you see I see immediately. Everything that you hear, I hear."
He says a friend of his called him. "I was home. And the friend of mine calls me and he says, ‘Is it true?' So I thought he said something else. But he said, ‘is it true?' I said, ‘Is what true?' And he says, ‘That your son got shot and is in a coma.' So immediately I'm thinking this is one more rumor because about a month or two months ago someone said he committed suicide or had gotten shot or something.
There's always rumors going on about the kid. So I immediately got off the phone with him, called his mom, I didn't get her. My sister called me so once I seen her call, I knew something was wrong."
Not many people in the mainstream had heard of XXXTentacion before his death, but on social media channels and in the underground rap world he was on the forefront of internet rap's new generation. He was a rising star whose mumble style resonated because of its subject matter which dealt with loneliness, depression, broken hearts, and suicide.
X said grungy, gloomy 1990s Rock God Kurt Cobain was "the only artist that inspires me" and Rolling Stone magazine likened X's break out hit "Look at Me" as the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" of post millennial Generation Z.
X's music, filled with obscenities, sexual references, violence and rage, was a way for him to express pent up negative emotions, mostly from a rocky childhood. He tells Adam22 on the No Jumper podcast how he started making music.
"I didn't know what I wanted to do, so one day after I got out of jail, I told my mom, yo, music, music. . . I got locked up for a year; they sent me to a behavioral correction, which is a boot camp prison for kids. So they sent me for that (expletive) for nine months, no, wait I was in there for a year. I started writing in there I wrote this song News/Flock was my absolute first song and my best as far as storytelling and then I got locked up."
X drew criticism over violent behavior and multiple arrests, including charges of domestic abuse against a former girlfriend that were dropped after his death by a Miami judge, according to his attorneys.
A statement from his lawyer, J. David Bogenschutz, on Aug. 30, 2018, upon request from The Florida Files says this:
"Charges against Mr. Onfroy were dismissed as a result of his death. Without a living defendant, those charges cannot be prosecuted as his absence was involuntary and permanent. Probation in Broward and the Aggravated Assault and multiple witness tampering charges in Miami-Dade, all of which were nearing favorable resolution in our many discussions with the State Attorney in Miami-Dade, were all dismissed permanently for those reasons.
But in recent months, X had been working on changing by focusing on a charity he created. On June 6, 2018, just before he was killed, X and his mom had registered a Florida not-for-profit corporation called Lend A Hand Foundation, Inc.
Its purpose in the state filing states: relief of the poor, distressed and of the underprivileged.
In one of his many vlogs, he tells fans he was going to start a movement called The Helping Hand where fans could "record doing good things and spread positive energy."
Record producer and family friend Jon "FX" Crawford says X "the Helping Hand Project was something genuinely that he was interested in. Giving to people. He's a giver. He loves to give. Anyone. That's who he is. The more he started to give the more it started to have an impact on him and having all the attention with the music, what is it that he could do more in a positive light. And that's what we would speak about," Crawford says. "The sound of music certain instruments that could evoke a certain vibe. A certain good vibe. Good energy."
Blessed before he was born
X's father, Dwayne Onfroy, who spoke exclusively to The Florida Files has been living in Jamaica for the past two years. He tells me he always knew his boy was special. And where does he think his son's musical talent came from?
"There is an old Jamaican saying, they say, 'what is in the blood is in the bones.' Crazy enough his mom was talented, but she never pursued it. Now, on my side of the family, my father is a singer and a writer. My father is a Rastafarian, and my brother has writing what you call a rap reggae artist, so music has been in the family. I have cousins who sing. So, I'm assuming that's partially where it came from. There was always music in the family. I dabbled in artist management and producing in my earlier years. And that's about it.
"He started rapping for me when I was incarcerated, about when he was age 14, a couple years before I got home. We would converse, we would talk about different. He says, ‘I'm pursuing music now.' I'd say what are you a rapper? And he says, ‘no, Dad, I'm not a rapper. What I do you can't consider it rap.' I'd say ‘what do you mean,' He'd call it spitting. He started rapping for me on the phone. I had goosebumps. He was about 14. And inside my dorm or where I was at they would listen to it, and said ‘Who is this?' And I would say, that's my son. I'd say Jahseh, it's not a question if you're going to be successful, and it's what you're going to do with your success. I said the world is going to be watching you. I know you're going to be successful, but it's how are you going to handle your success.
"I knew Jahseh was special. I'm a Rastafarian. You've heard about the Rastafarian culture. Some people say it is a religion. It is not a religion, it is a way of life. You would say God. We as Rastafarians say Jah. Prior to his birth, Bob Marley had a song."
The song, from Bob Marley and the Wailers, was "So Jah Seh."
Jah is God and Seh is said. God said. From the mouth of God. I named him Jahseh. So the name itself had power before he was even born. I gave him a Rastafarian name. I blessed him with that name because I knew the kid was special."
On March 24, 2018, Dwayne Onfroy posted a video on his Instagram account when he heard his son's song being played on the radio.
"When it became real to me was that day. I knew he was huge. If you are big as an artist, your song has to be played on the radio in Jamaica. Every big artist. You want to know how big an artist is? They start getting air play in Jamaica. You can get airplay in America, but if you're not getting airplay constantly in the Caribbean, Jamaica, Trinidad whatever, yeah, you're ok. So to hear my child, my seed, my son, the person who is wearing my face? The little baby, wiped his butt, cleaned his snot from his nose, the first day he learned to walk or went to school, to hear this person on the radio. It's beyond a proud moment. And I couldn't contain myself. So I put it on my Instagram feed. Before I put it on the Instagram feed, I made a video and I sent it to him. And he and I talked about it, and he said, ‘I'm glad you liked it.' Then his fans who started following me made it viral. That's what you call it, ‘viral?'
Two months after his son's 10th birthday, March 19, 2008, (Jahseh Onfroy's birthday is January 23, 1998). Dwayne Onfroy says: "I got incarcerated, and I was out of his life physically from that point on.
I didn't have struggles with the law. I was never in and out of jail. That narrative is wrong. But I was incarcerated. I wasn't in and out of jail. I went to jail for a long time. And that's the reason I was out of my son's life. That is in the past and that's where I want to leave it. It wasn't gun charges, it wasn't robbery, I didn't murder anyone. I am a Rastafarian, and as a result of living this life I got into things that your government would deem illegal. I sold marijuana."
When The Florida Files contacted Jahseh's mother, Cleopatra Bernard multiple times for an interview (X's most prominent tattoo is the one across his chest that says Cleopatra in tribute to his mom), she is gracious, but says she isn't talking to media at this time. She is going to put something out to the public in her own time, she says.
Dwayne Onfroy says he's the "forgotten person" in the story of Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy, a.k.a. XXXTentacion.
"You have to understand. I'm the forgotten man. I'm the forgotten person in this picture. And if you do the right thing by me you'll let people know that my son loved me and I loved my son. It wasn't about his fame. It was about his being able to live out his dreams. And I'm proud of him for that. I'm proud of my child because of that. All he accomplished in a short period of time. My son is, and was, a beautiful soul, just a bit misguided. If he had the chance to get a little bit older you would have seen a better side of him. My son still has a lot more to offer. The beautiful thing is, he's left me a grandchild."
X's mother shared a photo to her Instagram account. A Sonogram stamped April 23, 2018 with the numbers eight weeks and three days. She posts it on June 21, only a few days after her son's death.
The caption reads, "He left us a final gift," a hint about that grandchild, but doesn't reveal the identity of the baby's mother.
On Aug. 22, she posts another photo that of a woman's pregnant tummy announcing, "It's a Boy … Baby X."
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