NEW YORK • Powerful men in Hollywood have been brought down by their own misdeeds, but the opposite happened in hip-hop last year - many of the rising talent sped into the Billboard charts while under a cloud of accusations or convictions.
XXXTentacion has been charged with the assault of a pregnant woman and later with witness tampering.
Tay-K is facing a pair of murder charges, while Kodak Black is facing trial for criminal sexual conduct.
But XXXTentacion's first album, 17, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard chart. Tay-K's The Race went to No. 44 on the Hot 100.
Kodak Black's first album, Painting Pictures, debuted at No. 3.
Those are metrics of popularity, not ethics. But they reveal something about how artists with pockmarked personal histories are received in the current climate.
How to reckon with this gap, though, is still a work in progress and a challenge. These artists are thriving in real time and their renown is growing for music that is often inventive and compelling.
Last year's reckoning with sexual misconduct followed a pattern: accusations of misbehaviour, then condemnation and excommunication. If the men were creatively active, their current work was effectively scrubbed.
But what is happening in hip-hop is different. After several years defined by the soothing, melodic aesthetic of Drake, the genre is in the midst of a slow pendulum swing towards the harsher, darker and more foreboding.
Outlaw appeal has long been integral to hip-hop - think Tupac Shakur and 50 Cent - and rappers from this new generation with difficult backstories are in the early stages of their careers, in a genre in which tolerance of complicated histories tends to be high, and in which scepticism about institutions such as law enforcement can reframe someone accused of a crime as an anti-authoritarian folk hero.
Kodak Black's story is especially familiar. He is one of the most slyly affecting lyricists in hip-hop, and one who sometimes raps about the heavy weight of morality in an amoral world. "I was already sentenced, before I came up out the womb," he raps on Day For Day.
His public image has been one marked by persistent bad decisions and his art has in part been an attempt to address them.
There is a similar tension underscoring the work of XXXTentacion.
Kendrick Lamar supported him on Twitter, urging his followers to "listen to this album if you feel anything. raw thoughts".
This wave of artists has been buttressed by a range of institutions, many of which benefit from asking few questions. These artists have received placement on key playlists on streaming services such as Spotify, which has no formal criticism in its editorial offerings.
Other artists have attempted to capitalise on the viral notoriety of these rappers by working with them. XXXTentacion's first high-profile mainstream collaboration was with actress-singer Noah Cyrus, Miley's 17-year-old younger sister.
Kodak Black, the most established of these artists, has released songs with Lil Wayne and Young Thug.
The more tightly these artists are woven into the fabric of the music industry, the less likely they are to disappear quietly.
A final part of the pattern that emerged with last year's high-profile abusers was contrition, ostensibly as a setting for rehabilitation.
But that has not happened with this crop of rappers. Instead, the past year has made clear that they are finding listeners long before they find resolution, legal or moral.