Two years ago, Fat Nick and Pouya were touring with $uicideboy$ when they met a spindly fellow Floridian looking to leave his mark on the music world. Seeing as their final stop was in Fort. Lauderdale, Fla., the crew decided to let the relatively unknown rapper join for the remaining tour stops before landing at their final destination in the Sunshine State's Broward County. That artist was XXXTentacion, who would go on to become one of his generation's most popular rappers before he was tragically shot and killed in Deerfield Beach, Fla. on June 18.

At the time, X, who was then without any of his signature hair dyes and the buzz that would eventually come of his single, "Look At Me," was a mostly unknown commodity bubbling beneath the surface of Florida's lo-fi revolution. Nick remembers the presence the then-18-year-old provided on and off the stage.

"He was a kid when I first met him," Nick tells XXL. "Super nice guy—awesome guy. Hot head. Like, he didn't give a fuck. He was a really cool, respectful person [but] he was a hot head. I remember [at] shows he would fuck everything up, which was awesome. He brought energy to the shows, energy everywhere."

With his ability to channel outright rage and extreme sadness in his music, and a stylistic malleability that allowed him to create everything from teen emo pop ("Sad!") to boom-bap (“Infinity (888)”), X would soon become a superstar. While X's time in the spotlight lasted for less than a year, Nick believes the controversial rapper, whose sophomore LP ? landed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart when it dropped in March, had already done enough to become an icon.

"He's gonna be remembered as one of the most influential, important people of this generation," Nick says of the slain rapper, whose hit single "Sad!" broke Taylor Swift's single-day streaming record on Spotify just one day after his death. "Especially to the kids and the youth—the people who matter. They lost two of the most influential [people]: [Lil Peep] and X."

Nick, who has never collaborated with X but has kept in contact since they toured together two years ago, says the loss of X and Lil Peep—who died of an accidental drug overdose last year—has left a void for a young generation that turned to emotional music for comfort.

"That's why I felt really bad for the kids, because those two people said it how it should be said," Nick says. "They didn't give a fuck what anyone thought, and these kids can relate to them more than anyone. That's what the fucked-up thing is. That's who these kids relate to. That's who these kids cry to. That's who these kids survive off. They meant a lot to the youth. Fuck what anyone has to say. X is one the most influential, important people of this generation. And next to Peep, this is one of the most impactful deaths in the music industry. In the whole world, but, [in the] music industry, too."

The murder of XXX remains unsolved, but last Wednesday (June 20), two days after the rapper's death, the Broward Sheriff's Office announced the arrest Dedrick Williams, who they believe drove the dark-colored SUV that cut off X's BMW and enabled two other  gunmen to rob and kill the rapper. Police have issued warrants for two additional suspects, who they believe actually shot the rapper as Williams drove the getaway car. Williams, who has been charged with first-degree murder, has pled not guilty.

public memorial for XXXTentacion is taking place today at Sunrise, Fla.'s BB&T Center.

While Nick has mourned the loss of the talented 20-year-old, he says he shed his last tears after his friend Lil Peep passed away. The work, he says, comes in maintaining their memory.

"Would someone want you crying, or would [that person] want you to keep their legacy alive?" Nick asks. "That's the best [thing] anyone can do. All his family, his friends—keep his legacy alive. You gotta just keep legacies alive; that's the best you can do for them."

See Outtake Photos of XXXTentacion at the 2017 XXL Freshman Shoot

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