XXXTentacion, born Jahseh Onfroy.
Photo: Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Filmmakers have been trying to make a documentary about the rapper XXXTentacion since before his death. In 2017, Fader Films began working on a film about the controversial figure, who had become one of the most popular artists of the SoundCloud rap boom, while he faced of abuse from ex-girlfriend Geneva Ayala. Now, five years later, an XXXTentacion documentary, Look at Me, premiered at South by Southwest on March 15. The version of the doc that played SXSW, and heads to Hulu afterward on May 26 (previously June 10), is still produced by Fader Films but has changed forms multiple times since 2017. The first trailer for the documentary has just been released, featuring new footage of XXXTentacion, along with interviews with his mother; his former manager, Solomon Sobande; and Ayala. “It was kind of like a fairy tale, but a really grim one,” Ayala says.
Per Pitchfork, which reported on the so-called “XXXTentacion documentary that never was” in 2019, the initial doc was directed by Robert Semmer and featured interviews with Ayala as well as XXXTentacion, born Jahseh Onfroy. An early version of the film stalled due to concerns over the depiction of their relationship and the rapper’s abuse, along with alleged intimid from associates of XXXTentacion. But on the anniversary of the rapper’s death in 2019, XXXTentacion’s estate released a teaser for an untitled documentary. Pitchfork later reported that XXXTentacion’s estate had started working with Fader Films on the documentary following his death, after Semmer had stopped working on the project. The documentary teased by the XXXTentacion estate was never released.
Look at Me is now directed by Sabaah Folayan, who previously made the 2017 documentary Whose Streets? about protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Sobande is listed as an executive producer, and a Hulu representative confirmed to Vulture that the rapper’s estate was involved in the project. The documentary includes interviews with both XXXTentacion and Ayala, along with musicians who knew the rapper and other commentators. A Hulu description calls the film “a sensitive portrayal of an artist whose acts of violence, raw musical talent, and open struggles with mental health left an indelible mark on his generation.”