DUMMY BOY is the first and last album we will be hearing from New York rapper 6ix9ine. As you’re probably aware, 6ix9ine AKA Tekashi 69 AKA Daniel Hernandez has been indicted under RICO for being connected to several felonies perpetrated by his cohorts in the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods (TR3YWAY!) including Co-defendant Faheem “Crippy” Walter, Shotti, Jamel “Mel Murda” Jones, Jensel “Ish” Butler. RICO cases have a 93% conviction rate so rest assured he’s going to jail for most if not all of the rest of his life.
Your honor, I was unaware that blicky had the stiffy, uh.
This isn’t surprising to anybody familiar with the rapper/rainbow clown and his law-breaking antics but it is one of the weirdest sagas in music I’ve ever witnessed. Not since Bobby Shmurda has a star rose and fallen so quickly (what is it with New York rappers?) and the fact that 6ix9ine got to that level of fame really speaks to who we’ve become as a nation. People are quick to condemn Tekashi and happy to see him go after all of the horrendous things he’s done, but to me, the issue is slightly more complicated.
On one hand, 69 is a convicted kid diddler that was part of a gang who terrorized the streets of New York. He was connected to financing the sale of all sorts of drugs to his community and being involved in a number of gang-related beatings and shootings that left innocent bystanders injured. Unlike many rappers in the music industry, his persona wasn’t an act, he truly walked it like he talked it.
On the other hand, underneath all of the machismo, trolling, and felonies there was a very smart kid who took himself from being a broke clown in New York to one of the top clowns in the music industry. He transformed himself from a meme into an astronomical success with multiple billboard hits. Like a lot of rappers, he made the best out of a bad situation. Also like a lot of rappers, he didn’t stop all of the stupid gangster bullshit once he started making enough money to escape it. He kept one foot in the streets and it eventually cost him his freedom. It’s what experts have dubbed “Michael Vick Syndrome”.
Imagine somebody telling you back then “He will make music with Kanye West”
Two things can be true at once. I think he was a smart guy that chose the wrong path. I’ve been following 6ix9ine since GUMMO propelled him into the mainstream and if I’m being honest, I’ve come to enjoy Daniel’s antics because he made me laugh. His constant trolling and bullying of Trippie Redd, Ludacris, JuiceWRLD, 50 Cent, and countless others was consistently hilarious. I hated him at first and must admit that his personality won me over.
His music is a different story. Most of what he has put out so far is…bad. But now that he has the budget and backing of some industry titans, can Tekashi channel all of his pain and drama into a cohesive, moving artistic statement?
No. No, he cannot. For such a charismatic, complicated artist with an enthralling back story, DUMMY BOY is frustratingly predictable and mediocre. I’ve never been a huge fan of his volatile screaming delivery but it’s miles better than when he tries anything else. When he steps out of his comfort zone the results are disastrous.
Take TIC TOC for example, where he sounds like a generic, boring, less musically inclined version of the guy he shares the track with, Lil’ Baby, who is already one of the most generic, boring artists in the game. The funky guitar sample in the beat is actually really enjoyable but the two performers make it feel like taking an ambien. BEBE and MALA ft. Anuel AA should be classified as hate crimes to anybody with ears because 69s singing is that bad. It’s the worst auto-crooning I’ve heard since Future drank too much lean and thought he could make an R&B album (HNDRXX). It’s unlistenable. The same could be said for his performance on FEEFA where Gunna AKA the off-brand Young Thug sounds like R. Kelly next to 69’s abominable auto-tuned voice.
The guests on this album turn in some great performances and the producers truly do their best to help elevate 69’s lack of talent. I really liked the chorus and energy Tory Lanez brought to KIKA. Kanye/Nicki on MAMA deliver solid raps backed by the hypnotizing, spacey, booming trap beat from Murda Beatz. Kanye feels more like a footnote on KANGA and fails to match the unrestrained anger and youthful energy of 69 on the track, especially when they try trading verses like an odd couple version of Jadakiss and Styles P. But Murda Beatz comes through again with distorted synths and fast, aggressive drums that compliment 69s style. Tay Keith delivers a legitimate banger on STOOPID which has one of 6ix9ines better performances because he actually flows with the beat.
I also enjoyed Anuel AA because he’s in his element on both of the reggaeton cuts. It’s not my thing but it’s also not bad. The problem is, these much more talented guest stars only highlight 6ix9ine’s shortcomings as a rapper/singer. Every time a guest starts gaining some momentum, 69 comes crashing in like the Koolaid man and starts screaming threats at everybody and gratuitously screaming the N-word. Or, even worse, trying to sing.
Now, I understand nobody is going to call 69 a lyricist but his subject matter consists of advocating violence and murder on basically everybody, including women, saying really rapey things, and describing in detail all of the felonies he’s committed. You’re probably saying “but every rapper says things like that!” and you’re mostly right. But most other rappers say these things in clever ways and it’s not as troubling when it’s their persona vs. them actually committing terrible acts of violence. The blurred line between Tekashi’s crimes and his raps make them uncomfortable, and his idea of a metaphor is “bitch suck my dick, cuz I’m fly like Aladdin”.
I wish more of his personality came through on these songs because it would at least be something unique. There are flashes of it on the end of KANGA where he raps “How ye, how ye, how sway? NIGGA IT’S FUCKIN…” before his associate tells him to chill, he can’t scream Treyway anymore. It’s funny, but the punchline doesn’t land as hard because Tory Lanez made the same joke 3 songs earlier. Other than that, it’s copy/paste hood shit and Tekashi yelling at us.
Also, despite screaming himself hoarse on every track the entire album seems passionless. Once you see the laundry list of high profile producers and guest features on 12 out of 13 songs it’s easy to see this wasn’t meant to be an “album” so much as it was a strategy to keep his clout train chugging along. He has plenty to speak on including his ongoing legal troubles, his friends/fellow gang members ripping him off, his constant beefs. Instead, he opts to repeat the same shitty, elementary rhymes ad nauseam over expensive production.
This album isn’t good, and if you’ve heard one Tekashi 69 song you’ve pretty much heard them all. This time around he had the most talented producers and collaborators with the whole world paying attention and he couldn’t deliver a half decent album. His career is a good metaphor for 2018. It went by way too fast, made all of our lives slightly worse, and left us confused and disappointed.
Godspeed you beautiful rainbow clown, we barely knew ‘ya.