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XXXTentacion’s Family Battles Over His Legacy—And Mysterious Murder

The Daily Beast logo The Daily Beast 12/6/2018 By Tarpley.Hitt@thedailybeast.com (Tarpley Hitt)
a man holding a guitar: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty © Provided by The Daily Beast Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty

In the six months since Jahseh Onfroy, better known as the SoundCloud artist XXXTentacion, was shot dead outside a motorsports store in Deerfield Beach, Florida, the question of his legacy has been up for near-constant debate. The controversial figure, who rose to fame in 2017 for his distorted single “Look At Me!” and extreme charges of domestic abuse, left behind a trove of unreleased music, a massive estate, an unborn baby, and a lengthy trial—material enough to ensure the rapper remained the subject of incensed commentary months after he died.

Now, a new legal case reveals that the subject of XXXTentacion’s legacy has not only polarized public opinion, but his own family.

Last month, the slain musician’s mother, Cleopatra Bernard, filed a lawsuit against his half-sister, Ariana Onfroy, for defamation per se, libel and slander. In the complaint, Bernard’s attorney Aaron Behar asked for upwards of $15,000 in damages over comments from Onfroy that intimated Bernard had orchestrated her son’s death.

“It is with such sadness and remorse that the tragic end of [Bernard’s] son’s life had to be muddied with the disgraceful and hatred [sic] words of his sister towards his own mother,” Behar wrote in the complaint, reviewed by The Daily Beast. “Given [Onfroy’s] horrific and emotionally disturbing accusations made purely out of spite, Plaintiff cannot simply ignore the damage the comments have caused not only to her reputation, but also to her financial and business endeavors as well.”

The case concerns an interview Onfroy gave to The Sun, a British tabloid, in September of this year. In the article, titled “‘INSIDE JOB’ XXXTentacion’s sister claims rapper’s murder was set up by member of his inner circle,” Onfroy told reporter Emma Parry that she believed someone other than the four men currently charged with XXXTentacion’s murder had been involved in plotting his death.

“It was definitely an inside job,” she said. “There’s somebody on the inside that knew where he was going to be and the exact time he was leaving for the murderers to know when to come and to do what they did. It definitely was set up.”

Onfroy does not, in any part of the interview, claim that Bernard was involved in the shooting. She does not name any individuals other than her half-brother throughout the entire interview. But the complaint suggests that some of Onfroy’s comments were made in reference to Bernard, and could breed confusion over the intended target of the “inside job” allegation.

In one passage, for example, Onfroy claims that someone won’t let her see her nephew, XXXTentacion’s son. “They’re going to keep my nephew away from me,” she told Parry. “My unborn nephew, they’re going to continue to keep that legacy going, that hatred, that evil, that dysfunction, that chaos, that anger.”

a group of people posing for the camera: Cleopatra Bernard accepts an award on behalf of her son, the late XXXTentacion, during the 2018 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on October 9, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/Getty © Provided by The Daily Beast Cleopatra Bernard accepts an award on behalf of her son, the late XXXTentacion, during the 2018 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on October 9, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/Getty

In another, she alleges that a family member banned her from visiting her half-brother’s grave, which is, technically open to the public. “I can no longer visit his grave site due to them trying to do anything to break me down to keep me fearful of them,” Onfroy said. “It’s evil. What did I do to them? Why do they want to go as far as to try to hurt me in these ways, my brother’s gone what more can I do than just to visit his grave site and just to sit there and talk to them... Why be so evil and wicked to the person that was there for him most of the times when others weren’t there?”

The complaint does not clarify whether Bernard did ban Onfroy from visiting her nephew or her half-brother’s grave. Instead, it states that, taken together, the comments “negligently and disgracefully convey to the readership that [Bernard] was at least partly responsible for the killing of her son.”

As evidence, Behar cites several YouTube comments, left beneath a video recording of the interview. “I believe X sister, because X mom seems like a money hungry,” one user wrote. Another added: “Sounds like X mom set him up for the money and house honestly.”

Onfroy and Bernard did not respond to requests for comment. But she has discussed a strained relationship with XXXTentacion’s mother in the past. In April, Onfroy talked about Bernard at length in a since-deleted YouTube explainer on her half-brother. “His mother lies,” she said. “For no reason. She just lies, lies, lies. That woman, that woman is not a good woman.”

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