The music of XXXTentacion, the 20-year-old Florida rapper who was fatally shot in a robbery last June, surged on the U.S. music charts after his untimely death. As a result, other often better-known rappers have appeared to capitalize on the late songwriter’s buzz with so-called “tributes.” Lil Pump’s “Arms Around You” featuring XXX, Swae Lee and Maluma became a Billboard Hot 100 hit. Kanye West released a feature on XXX’s song “One Minute.” These are popular, catchy songs. But the awkward truth is that these artists mined the unused recordings of a rapper whom they didn’t know while he was alive.
Lil Wayne’s “Don’t Cry” is the latest in this transparent trend. The Jay & Georgio Rodriguez-directed music video features Weezy sitting in the tundra as a large crystal protrudes from the ground. After Wayne goes through a few wardrobe changes and gets served wine by a nun, the mysterious crystal shoots a beam into space. If the crystal, nun and bloody throne are metaphors they aren’t easy to parse. What is pretty pretty obvious is XXX’s part: a black-and-white montage of XXX’s various performances appears when during his chorus.
During an interview with Elliot Wilson for his CRWN series, Lil Wayne explained why he didn’t know who XXXTentacion was before his death.
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“May he rest in peace. Y’all know I don’t listen to nothing but myself cause I work too much, so I didn’t know who XXXtentacion was. Mack had to explain the whole story to me right? Then and there I had to google and all that and I found out, figured everything out. It was easy. It wasn’t no such a thing as yes or no, it was let me get my verses together.”