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“Where’s Famous Dex?”: An Op-ed About XXL and Domestic Violence

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Famous Dex, born Dexter Gore, is a 23-year-old rapper from Chicago, Illinois. He’s primarily known for his fan base on Soundcloud and Youtube, and hit songs such as “Glock,” “I Get the Drip From My Walk,” and “Let’s Do It.” He was considered to be a shoo-in for the 2017 XXL Magazine Freshman Cover, a yearly edition of XXL magazine recognizing artists who the editors think led music in the year and who they think will lead into the next year. However, when the Freshman cover was announced in June, fans were outraged that Dexter was left off of it. I was a little surprised too, being a listener and borderline fan. But I thought I understood why he was left off: because Famous Dex was caught on video assaulting his girlfriend.

In September 2016, home surveillance video footage was released by rapper Tish Hyman of Dex chasing his girlfriend down the hall, cornering her and then repeatedly swinging on her. The video went viral, and Dex attempted to justify it with a sorry excuse accusing her of cheating on him. In January, Dexter told his side of the story in an interview with Adam22 of No Jumper but didn’t validate his case at all.

“If you look at the video, I wasn’t really like beating her,” Dex said, emphasizing that he didn’t leave her “face all bloody.” Dex went on explaining, “Long story short, I ain’t go to jail, she ain’t go to the hospital.” But, in the same interview, Dex went on to admit that he made a mistake and promised not to hit women “no more.”

Dex also revealed that he and the woman pictured in the video have since reconciled and now have a baby together. Although I’m happy that they’ve gotten back together, the video still played a part in him not making the XXL Freshman Cover — but not for the reason you may think.

In an interview with The Breakfast Club, XXL Editor-In-Chief Vanessa Satten explained that Dex was left off because the staff felt the video would tarnish his career. Not necessarily because of his actions.

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“We definitely think Dex is a really good rapper,” Satten said. “But for us, it’s trying to predict the future of who’s going to blow up, and I think that’ll be a challenge for him … It’s hard to say that you’re gonna be huge and blow up and still kinda have that when people Google you.” When Satten was directly asked if the rapper’s action was the reason he was left off the cover, she gave the wishy-washy answer: “I mean, I guess if you want to put it that way.”

XXL’s hands-off approach to domestic violence may have possibly led to another rapper accused of domestic violence getting on the cover anyway. XXL Freshman Class 10th Spot Winner, XXXtentacion, was arrested in October 2016 for reportedly assaulting his girlfriend who was pregnant at the time. He was charged with aggravated battery of a pregnant victim, but was not convicted. Despite this, the 19-year old rapper still made the cover however, Satten pointed that X was selected by the fans, not the XXL staff. She also pointed out that Dex was caught on video while X was not.

XXL tried to do what was best for them by keeping their decision popularity based, but ended up enraging fans more and downplaying domestic violence at the same time. Someone with a reported history of domestic violence still ended up on the cover. How would you feel if a woman close to you had gotten assaulted by someone and then the same person who lent out the beating blew up a few months later? You would think it’s unjust, you would think it’s unfair, and you would want something to be done about it.

As Dex famously reminded us, he did not go to jail, but domestic violence is wrong no matter how you frame it. XXL should’ve done a better job with giving a precise answer to why Dex didn’t make the cover, rather than giving us a half-ass answer that we see most days from our politicians. Fans are going to ride for their favorite artists as expected, but when there’s a clear wrong, we all should be on the same page. In the case of XXL, especially the cover.

Mack is a 14-year-old student at North Atlanta High School. He is a fan of all music genres, however finds himself most inspired by Kurt Cobain.

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