A half-hour into the documentary, “Look at Me: XXXTentacion”, the rapper’s mother lists the occasions on which her son was beaten by his father. There are quite a number of them, and yet Cleopatra Bernard goes on to say “But, he wasn’t abusive”.
Such chilling moments make one feel exasperated and astounded while watching “Look at Me: XXXTentacion” – directed by Sabaah Folayan and executively produced by Bernard.
Jahseh Onfroy or better known through his stage name, XXXTentacion, was a Florida rapper whose life ended tragically in a 2018 shooting. The late star has quite the following because of his emotive music, unique personality, and multiplatinum record sales.
Look at Me is a documentary about a renowned rapper who was known for being a troublesome and incendiary figure. He learned he had bipolar disorder when he was practically a teenager. The artist was recording raps before he even turned 15. Many believe a track in the film was a cry for help which unfortunately went unanswered.
Catch the trailer right here:
XXXTentacion was known for being frenetic and a proudly violent person. The abuse of his girlfriend Geneva Ayala is also featured in the documentary in disturbing detail. For his breakthrough single’s cover, “Look at Me”, the artist used one of his mugshots.
There’s a home video footage featured in the documentary which shows a celebration of XXXTentacion’s release from jail. He’s shown accepting platitudes from his family and management, “one day at a time”, “do the right thing”. Etc. On the other hand, the rapper flat-out lies about abusing his girlfriend by saying “She was bruised already”.
It has been said that the musician’s life was much like others around him. Sadly, it was a terrifying blend of street culture, social media, and mental illness. Speaking of people outside his circle, Bass Santana a member of XXXTentacion’s crew stated:
“All these people want to see is us destroy each other”.
Unfortunately, Santana didn’t seem to be aware of what he was talking about which is heartbreaking.
There’s no doubt Look at Me is a painful watch. However, it has been designed in such a way because the truth demands nothing less. Director Folayan does a fine job of depicting the entire experience whilst emanating the grace and gravity required of her. She manages to ask the much-needed tough questions through her interview snippets.
Compared to Folayan’s debut documentary, Whose Streets?, which was about the people of Ferguson, this work of hers is vastly different. It consisted of on-the-ground camera work in a cinéma vérité style which prioritized observation.
On the other hand, Look at Me: XXXTentacion is more focused on sit-down interviews who knew the rapper and how they remembered a soul that passed away too soon.
@EliasVT shared their sentiments regarding the documentary:
Watching the ‘Look at Me: XXXTentacion’ documentary last night after almost 4 years since his passing really reminded me how much of a struggling, broken, and misunderstood human being X was during his life…He lived with trauma and definitely lived a hard life.
— Elias Vella-Toussulis (@EliasVT) May 27, 2022
We cannot limit our understanding of a person by just adoring their music. There’s no denying every person has to deal with numerous complexities within their lives, and the documentary does justice by delivering this fact quite aptly.
Although there are some moments where people do irrelevant attention-gaining stunts, it doesn’t mean they should just let go and let them be themselves because that’s who they are. In fact, it’s probably their cry for help and should be given a hand because there has to be a deeper meaning behind their actions.
If you dive deeper into the life of this rapper, you’ll find out his descent included a lot of self-harm and abuse, which tells how much he was keeping to himself behind the camera.
His performance on stage was basically a mask that he put on to hide his real self and all the horrible parts of his life he felt responsible for.
Twitter user @may_zhuh shared their thoughts:
Look At Me is the best posthumous documentary i’ve ever seen, shoutout to his management bc that easily could’ve been a shit show, cash grab but they did him justice i rly have no critiques, thank you for telling his story & showing xxxtentacion as a whole, real human being
— M A S I A ☆ (@may_zhuh) May 26, 2022
The documentary film teaches us how harsh reality can be and yet one must continue to fight because if truth can hurt someone, it can also get someone a beloved one. XXXTentacion was a talented musician no doubt, but he also harbored a violent past. He was struggling with his own mental health and also practically wreaked havoc in the lives of people who had similar issues.
Fan shared screenshots from the documentary appreciating the filmography:
— Mullet Verp 🖤 (@Verpion) May 26, 2022
The film doesn’t glorify the rapper, rather it shows he was a good person who had the tendency to do bad things. He showed kindness to the people who were struggling alongside him but he could also hurt them moments later.
According to Folayan, people can be many things and every aspect of theirs should get the focus they deserve. As a result, each depressing and infuriating piece of information draws you nearer to the victim. An overwhelming feeling of sadness engulfs you, however, it doesn’t have to be this way.
The first step begins with seeking help. You never know how much you’ve bottled up unless you speak to a therapist, it can be a life-changing experience.
The title of the film seems quite justified as it is the single which earned the rapper his fame. Onfroy had flaws, no doubt, but he also had a huge desire to be seen and understood. Folayan makes sure we try to understand him as a person and see how broken he was without undermining the fact that he also broke other people.
People look forward to XXXTentacion’s new album featuring a collaboration with Kanye:
JUST IN: A new XXXTentacion album titled Look At Me: The Album will be released as a companion to X's upcoming documentary
X's collab with Kanye West, "True Love" will be released this Friday, May 27
The song will feature on both Look At Me: The Album and Kanye's Donda 2 pic.twitter.com/mFPy5DYo0y
— XXL Magazine (@XXL) May 23, 2022
The entire journey provides a sort of closure to others, meanwhile, it also shows how hard it is for his beloved ones to move on from his departure. The film doesn’t sway from the truth and dives deeper into the harsh life of an artist whom the world only knew as XXXTentacion. Overlooking the headlines, the documentary is a much-needed piece of filmmaking.