As the age of Soundcloud rap continues, the competition for who can be the flashiest, loudest, most vile and most colorful personality is more intense than it has ever been. A few of the most notable artists to come out of this wave recently have been Lil Uzi Vert, XXXTentacion and Ski Mask the Slump God, all taking elements of punk, heavy metal and rap, throwing them in a blender and mixing them together in their own unique ways. On such a saturated and constantly evolving platform, the rappers who rise to prominence are the ones with the most flamboyant and outgoing personalities, excelling at creating their brands and building an audience around them. With rainbow-colored hair falling to his shoulders, a rainbow grill and a tattoo on his forehead reading “69,” rapper 6ix9ine, or Tekashi69, embodies nearly every negative Soundcloud rapper stereotype. His personality is so abrasive and over the top that it almost seems like he is playing a character and his whole get-up is part of some sort of avant-garde performance art.
Unfortunately, this is not the case, as his new album “Day 69” is a grueling 27 minutes of 6ix9ine screaming like an upset 15-year-old over generic, repetitive trap beats. Tracks like “GUMMO,” “DOOWEE” and “KOODA” all blend into one another, with Tekashi69’s guttural shouting bringing 2000s nu-metal bands to mind like Insane Clown Posse or Korn (and not in a good way). The track “KEKE” features the 2017 Ozfest headliner “A Boogie Wit da Hoodie” and mumble rap sensation Fetty Wap, with both of their verses feeling phoned in and out of place alongside 6ix9ine’s aggressive delivery. “93” has some of the worst production on the whole album, with a distorted guitar noise that kicks the listener’s head in from start to finish. 6ix9ine continuously yells the phrase “Scum Gang,” which references a Brooklyn Collective that he and another prominent Soundcloud rapper Trippie Redd used to be a part of. The way 6ix9ine shouts the phrase is annoying to begin with, but somehow gets even more irritating the more he uses it (which is in the beginning or end of nearly every track).
There is something strangely charming about the track “BUBA,” and it sounds like the perfect track to blast in the car with friends as a joke. The confidence that 6ix9ine carries himself around with is almost admirable, but his shady past should immediately eliminate any respect a listener might start to have for him.
In October 2015, 6ix9ine, whose birth name is Daniel Hernandez, had charges brought against him for engaging in sexual contact with a 13-year-old and distributing video of it online. Prior to that, he served jail time for assault and the sale of heroin. While it is necessary sometimes to separate the art from the artist, 6ix9ine’s behavior may be too extreme to not take into context while listening to his music. This all falls in line with the disturbing trend in the modern rap scene where being a horrible human being is not condemned, but glorified.
For example, XXXTentacion was charged with assaulting his pregnant girlfriend, yet the alarmingly detailed accusations were not enough to put a dent in his skyrocketing fame.
While “Day 69” might seem harmless on the surface, allowing people like 6ix9ine to stay in the limelight and cultivate a dedicated fanbase points toward a very toxic future for rap and popular culture in general. The hope is that there is a shift to keep artists like this from staying relevant and better role models will take their place.
Image from Mixtape Monopoly via YouTube.com