We’re currently in the thick of South By Southwest (SXSW) and during the festivities, guests were treated to the premiere of Look At Me: XXXTENTACION. The documentary chronicles the life and career of the slain rapper who was murdered during a botched robbery back in 2018. His cult fanbase has continued to support him posthumously, but controversy followed the rapper in life, especially the allegations of domestic violence.
In October 2016, XXXTentacion, real name Jahseh Onfroy, was arrested on several charges related to an incident involving his then-girlfriend, Geneva Ayala. The rapper’s fans have long vilified Ayala online and according to The Daily Beast, “her social media accounts were hacked, she was kicked out of his vigil, and fans even had a GoFundMe she started for her eye surgery briefly suspended.”
While crafting Onfroy’s documentary, filmmakers, along with the rapper’s family, believed it was important to confront this controversy head-on in an effort to portray a full picture.
“Everyone was like, you are ruining his career, but at the same time, I felt my whole life was ruined because nobody even cared,” Ayala said. “After that I was homeless, I lived in a hotel almost a year after that. I was just trying to say what happened. If you are going to think I’m a liar, I’m a liar. How am I supposed to fight that? I’m only one person. It was a really dark moment for me. There was no way to stop it. He had the power to do all that.”
“It was kind of a romantic feel in the beginning, it was a mesh of always taking care of each other and trying to better ourselves,” she added, but within weeks, she claimed the physical abuse began. She, along with Talyssa Lee who was reportedly dating a friend of Onfroy’s, detailed alleged encounters of abuse in the documentary and included photos of her injuries. There is even a moment when Onfroy’s mother, Cleopatra “Cleo” Bernard, sat down with Ayala, one on one.
Although Onfroy denied that he laid a hand on his ex, in an interview and even to his mother, Bernard has come to terms with it all and although she will always support her son, she condemned his actions.
“A part of me took that and ran with it,” she said. “That’s my son, even if he’s hitting her, that’s my son. If he’s a devil, that’s my son, I birthed him. Wrong, right or indifferent I’m going to have his back no matter what. I’ll always have his best interests at heart, protect her. Any mother would have done the same thing.”
Bernard told Ayala, “My son is no longer here, and I feel like it’s up to me now to make amends and try to right his wrongs as much as I can… I would actually like to hear you tell your story because like I said, my son died, and he’s never admitted it to me—I don’t think he would want me to see him in that light or know that side of him. Jahseh was wrong for what he did. There’s no excuse for that, period. But I just want the world to know that he wasn’t that same person anymore, but the past is still part of his story.”
“I’m not going to hate her,” Bernard added “And my son is not here, and I don’t think she should be mistreated in any way. This is about his legacy, and she was the love of his life, and she was a part of that legacy.”