Tekashi, we hardly knew ye. Though he came into the game and left within the same calendar year, the rainbow wonder has certainly left an impression on friend and foe alike. Of course, the list of his enemies is as extensive as his now-defunct Billboard chart streak. Prior to being shipped off to the clink, we’ve seen the young rapper butt heads with Trippie Redd, Pi’erre Bourne, YG, Chief Keef, Tadoe, The Game, YG, Ebro, Casanova, Juice WRLD, Kodak Black, and likely more. And that’s only the “rap game” section of his shit-list.

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow"

Yet one does not achieve commercial prosperity, battle Travis Scott for a number one album, and sell out concert halls on the strength of notoriety alone. Behind the antics, or perhaps because of them, Tekashi found himself developing a loyal fanbase. Of course, it’s possible that many simply tuned in out of a simple adherence to meme culture; in that sense, 6ix9ine provided ample fodder for the memelords, who may have gravitated toward his propensity for churning out endless content. A symbiotic relationship, to be sure.

That’s not to say every 6ix9ine listener approached his music with a sense of irony. True, his original singles mirrored a temporary burst of testosterone, providing little in the way of nuance. Yet the young man eventually began branching out, exploring different cadences beyond his modus operandi: SCREAMING SHIT. He even dipped his toe into the Latin game, broadening his musical horizon in the process. True, he wasn’t exactly raising the bar for overall album quality, yet there was something captivating about his presence nevertheless. Even the detractors tuned in for the oft-misguided “hate-listen.” Yet an interesting question persists: who makes up 6ix9ine’s core fanbase? And for those included in the rainbow-tinted bubble, are they supporting the man or the music?

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Such mettle will be tested now more than ever, for 6ix9ine will, at least in theory, be gone till September. The long and sordid tale of Tekashi’s legal woes has been covered extensively, but the fallout has certainly lacked intensity. The battle for number one album was a briefly interesting narrative, though it fizzled not long after it popped. For the most part, 6ix9ine related content has become reliant on the antics of his girlfriend Jade and her various suitors. That’s not to say his followers have turned their back on him; Dummy Boy currently sits at number eight on the Billboard charts, though a slow descent is ongoing. In truth, it speaks to the fickle nature of the modern fan, whose sense of loyalty often mirrors their attention span.

Of course, them’s the breaks when operating the tumultuous waters of a “clout-based era.” Should you put antics over actual quality, the hype will inevitably die down once the antics falter. Seeing as 6ix9ine is currently sitting behind bars, he’s incapable of making headlines through his various means. The man was, after all, an impeccable troll. His sense of humor was surprisingly adept, and his willingness to laugh at himself made for a variety of enjoyable content. The “Fastest Man Alive” compilations come to mind, an encapsulation of his harmonious relationship with the world’s meme-creators. Yet how many of them are truly lamenting the loss of his music? Have we reached a point where 6ix9ine, either humbled or hardened by his prison stint, emerges in a year’s time, only to be long forgotten? Or has he solidified enough of a legacy to pick up where he has left off? Admittedly, those who make up his core following may have already latched onto the next up-and-comer, though a triumphant return to form is far from out of the cards.

It’s possible that a post-prison 6ix9ine will be a different beast altogether, likely avoiding anything even remotely confrontational, lest the legal eagles come-a-knocking. As Kendrick Lamar once pondered, when shit hits the fan, will the fans remain fans? It’s conceivable, as many artists have sustained a fanbase and even thrived upon their release from prison. Kodak Black recently put out one of his best pieces of work thus far, and Gucci Mane has continuously delivered solid material amidst a straight-up lifestyle change. Yet many have questioned 6ix9ine’s genuine talent; how much of his success is driven by skill alone? Few can argue that the antics have played a pivotal role in catapulting his notoriety. Strip those away, and all we have left is the music.

Time will tell whether or not 6ix9ine’s songs will withstand the test of time. Yet one thing is certain. It’s been relatively quiet in his absence. The Dummy Boy rollout alone may have been a trove of potential comedic gold. Likewise for the inevitable videos that might have followed. Instead, we’re left with the antics of the rainbow heiress, a diluted variation at best. Love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny that Tekashi made an impression during his brief tenure in the game. Do you miss the lil guy, or are you simply over the rainbow?