Rapper shot dead in possible robbery

MIAMI • Rapper XXXTentacion was leaving a motorcycle store when two armed men approached him in broad daylight on Monday, with at least one opening fire.

The 20-year-old, whose grim, often suicidal rhymes propelled him to the top of the United States chart just months ago, died in the incident described as a possible robbery by the authorities in Florida.

The artist, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The suspects escaped in a dark vehicle.

Celebrity news site TMZ, which first reported the shooting, said the duo snatched a Louis Vuitton bag from the rapper's vehicle.

Sporting spiked-up dreadlocks and often covering his face with a black-and-white masquerade mask, XXXTentacion rose to fame more than a year ago after putting out the song, Look At Me!, on sharing site SoundCloud. He sampled alternative rock and reggaeton in his dark, often muffled style of hip-hop full of dark lyrics.

Without any traditional sort of promotion, his second album, titled ?, debuted at the top of the Billboard chart in March.

His private life has stoked controversy, with the rapper recently released from house arrest while awaiting trial for allegedly beating his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

But his music found a critical following. Kendrick Lamar, one of the most influential figures in hip-hop, said he found a unique rawness on XXXTentacion's debut album 17.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2018, with the headline 'Rapper shot dead in possible robbery'. Print Edition | Subscribe