Five years ago today, XXXTentacion uploaded “Look At Me!” to SoundCloud, setting off a wild chain of events that would change the lives of everyone involved with the song.
On Dec. 30, 2015, when it came time to choose cover artwork for SoundCloud, X used an image of a 12-year-old boy with a blunt hanging out of his nose. This wasn’t just a random photo that X found on the internet, though. The kid in the image had sent it directly to him a couple of months before.
The boy is known on the internet as KidPronto, and he had recently befriended X. “We’re all from the same city, so we had a lot of mutual friends, and he just fucked with me,” KidPronto tells Complex, explaining that they met in person for the first time when he was invited to X’s first-ever concert in Florida. “X pulled up on me with, like, 50 people on my street. Ski Mask [the Slump God] and all of them were there. We went to the show together and stayed in touch after that.”
After the show, KidPronto, XXXTentacion, and Ski Mask the Slump God joined the same group chat on Twitter, where they traded over-the-top photos and messages with each other. One of those photos was the now-infamous selfie of KidPronto and the blunt.
“I was smoking, and I just put it in my nose, took a picture, and sent it to the group chat as a joke,” he remembers. “We were just playing, and X was like, ‘I’m going to use this as my next song cover.’ He wasn’t big or anything back then, so I didn’t really think nothing of it.”
X followed through on his promise. For a year, “Look At Me!” received a modest level of attention. But by late 2016 and early 2017, it blew up online while X was in jail after being arrested on charges of domestic battery, aggravated battery of a pregnant victim, false imprisonment, and witness tampering.
“When he was getting in trouble, I was getting in trouble, too,” KidPronto reveals. While he declines to go into detail about his legal issues from that time, publicly available court documents indicate KidPronto has a record of charges from 2017 that include robbery, battery, vehicle theft, and resisting arrest.
By spring of that year, X had returned home from jail. KidPronto, who was “basically on the run” from the law at the time, reconnected with the rapper in search of help.
“When [X] got out of jail, I had a warrant for my arrest, so I pulled up to his show, and he already knew the situation with me,” KidPronto remembers. “So he was like, ‘All right, I’m going to make sure you’re good. I’m going to let you stay at my crib for a minute.’”
For two months, KidPronto lived at X’s home. The teenager has fond memories of this time, describing the rapper as a “very genuine and generous person.” But it came to an abrupt end when the police showed up at their door one day. After initially telling police officers he didn’t know who or where KidPronto was, X leveled with his young friend and convinced him to turn himself in to authorities.
Midway through KidPronto’s jail sentence, on the afternoon of June 18, 2018, X was murdered in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
While KidPronto was in jail, he heard the news of X’s death. And by the time he returned home, he had settled on a new goal: pursue a music career of his own, in part because of encouragement he had received from the rapper. “When I was around him, he used to tell me to make music, because I used to be freestyling and shit. He was like, ‘Bro, you snapping. You’ve got to make some music.’ And I was like, ‘Nah, fuck that. I’m not a rapper.’ But I had music all around me, and all my friends were making music, so eventually I was like, ‘All right, let me see what this is about.’”
In early 2019, KidPronto recorded and released a handful of songs, including “My Clique,” “Fast Lane,” and “Stand Tall.” He developed a following on SoundCloud, and the songs racked up over 300,000 plays in total.
“I made some songs, and they got some positive feedback, but my mind wasn’t right, so I wasn't really too focused on music,” he says now.
KidPronto couldn’t stay out of trouble with the law. According to local news outlets in Pompano Beach, Florida, he was arrested again in the spring of 2019 after stabbing another teen multiple times during an argument. (He says he still “can’t talk” about the incident now.)
While he was in jail, photos surfaced online that seemed to indicate the Florida teenager had undergone a radical transformation. One tweet, which immediately went viral, showed KidPronto wearing a head covering, and implied that he had converted to Islam.
KidPronto tells Complex that he did not, in fact, convert to Islam while in jail (“People believe whatever they see,” he says), but he claims that the time behind bars changed his outlook on life. “It helped me know what I want to do, and it helped me realize that’s not the life I want,” he says. “It just helped me get my mind right.”
Now, at 17 years old, KidPronto has recently been released on house arrest. He says he’s intent on throwing himself back into music and recording new songs, a pursuit that can be tied back to the photo he took five years ago. He downplays any kind of celebrity that has resulted from his internet notoriety, repeatedly saying things like, “I don’t really be caring about clout and shit,” in conversation. But he does admit that the “Look At Me!” photo affected his life. “I would have never made no music before that,” he says. “It definitely did change things.”
As a parting word, he clarifies one thing that people get wrong about XXXTentacion’s cover art: “He didn’t just randomly take that picture off the internet.” That’s for sure.