Let’s start with “Gummo”. Because that’s where it started. This video gets about 130 million YouTube views ago. This before I knew anything about the colorful, controversial Brooklyn rapper. The one who calls himself 6ix9ine.
While aggressive threats may seem mundane. But the song’s has a cohesive package of the cold open, the uneven structure, the sparseness of the beat, the darkness of the visuals. It shows signs of a confident vision. 6ix9ine’s lyrics aren’t particularly clever, but they are slickly delivered and catchy. The sum effect of the track, at under three minutes, is effortlessly sinister.
And then there’s Tekashi himself. The 21-year-old rapper is of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage. He resembles an anime character adopted by Bloods. The one who is half killer, half kawaii. He has the rainbow coif and face tattoos of his new-school contemporaries. But none of their torpid, drug-induced languor.
Moreover, 6ix9ine is also a pariah. He is an outrage magnet for our outrage culture. His past includes a guilty plea to a child-related sexual misconduct charge. His presence has been marred by violence, real and threatened. He is a shameless troll whose power of attraction is woven in his ability to repel. Also, this young star rapper of 2018 has a lot of reasons to hate. But he is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
Although, 6ix9ine is an unconventional New York rapper. He is abiding by New York rap conventions in a way that demands the attention. If not the respect, of its gatekeepers. Swizz Beatz and Fat Joe are two of 6ix9ine’s veteran cosigns. Shock-value artists are content with infamy.
Certainly, 6ix9ine’s goal is ubiquity, which puts him in line with every rapper. The one who grew up where hip-hop lives. So 6ix9ine is more similar to fellow Brooklynite Bobby Shmurda than he is to Lil Pump. And like Shmurda, who’s serving a recently extended prison sentence. But yes things may yet end badly for 6ix9ine.