One of the most controversial hitmakers of the current rap scene finally unleashes his debut mixtape. After all the drama, is Tekashi 6ix9ine able to make music that lives up to the mass hysteria?
In roughly the span of the year, an underground New York rapper has experienced a stylistic metamorphosis from everyday Soundcloud rapper to unlikely chart topper. He’s been involved with numerous beefs (including one with Trippie Redd, who initially signed him in the first place), nearly went to jail on sexual assault charges, and generally made himself persona non-grata in multiple parts of the country.
All of this either assisted or directly led to singles like “GUMMO,” “KOODA” and “KEKE” becoming massive radio smashes. Polarizing to the extreme, 6ix9ine didn’t seem to care whether he was despised or praised, as long as everyone had SOME opinion of him before the year was up.
And now, his debut mixtape Day69 has arrived.
Unlike many of his peers, Tekashi actually deviated from the expected sound. For the most part, he generally specializes in an unconventional vocal style. His hoarse snarl (reminiscent of older NYC groups like Onyx and MOP) cuts through most tracks, instantly commanding a listener’s attention. However, while he barges and rampages over beats fairly effectively, his delivery never varies. In his rush to reach the top, 6ix9ine hasn’t exactly developed an extensive toolkit.
When it comes to stylistic approach, 6ix9ine basically has two different approaches. One is an uptempo, New York-inspired approach to trap records. The second borrows from the Florida rap scene’s hyper-distorted SoundCloud output. Of course “GUMMO”’s producer Pierre Bourne played a pivotal role in shaping a sonic aesthetic, much like he did on Playboi Carti’s breakout “Magnolia.” Despite this sense of duality, 6ix9ine’s performances remain, for the most part formulaic. Especially given that some of the more identifiable characteristics are generally cribbed from other sources.
For instance, the shouted chorus on “BUBA” seems a little too close to Ski Mask & XXX’s “Take A Step Back.” The ‘blicky’ quotable from “GUMMO” is borrowed from the Blixky Gang from Flatbush, Brooklyn. The qualities that make 6ix9ine such a unique presence on record ultimately seem to dwindle under scrutiny. The longer the mixtape proceeds, the more evident the flaws become.
Despite the fact that Tekashi himself is so outlandish, the records that emulate “KOODA” and “KEKE” can’t help but feel conservative, especially where production is concerned. When you compare the production on DAY69 to the debut albums of his regional and generation peers, he’s largely outclassed. “BUBA” and “MOOKY” might have haunting beats overwhelmed with bass, but they’re typically drowned out under the weight of his own reverb-caked barking.
6ix9ine would probably never claim to be a lyricist. Still, it’s an area in which he’s sorely lacking. Lines are frequently recycled from song to song, with little to no emphasis on creating memorable imagery; as a result, that feeling of homogeneity continues to pervade throughout the album. At a certain point, Tekashi’s lyrics are merely threats of violence and demands for sexual gratification for their own sake, echoing all the worst sort of false impressions people get about hip-hop music. There’s certainly room for more nihilistic rappers talking about street life and living reckless, but who wants to hear it be made so boringly?
Even the guest features from the likes of A-Boogie, Young Thug, and Offset (on a “GUMMO” remix that, considering the tape also features the original, feels weirdly tacked on) are pretty disposable, doing very little to rejuvenate the mixtape’s energy. By the time the closer “CHOCOLATE” comes around, it’s hard not to feel a palpable sense of disappointment. After all the hype, it almost seems that music will always come second to his insatiable appetite for controversy.
All things considered, DAY69 is a staggering failure of artistic statement, especially for a rapper seeking to prove his worth to the rap game. Whether it’s the unremarkable production, his own limitations as a rapper, or the severe drop in quality beyond the singles, there’s not much going on to justify his existence in the rap game beyond an unfortunate habit of generating negative attention.
Still, this could easily change within a matter of time. The sheer volume of hit singles he’s amassed in such a short window certainly indicates room for a growing audience, and 6ix9ine has proven to have good instincts for determining when the winds are blowing toward a hot new sound. But based on what he’s bringing to the table during a larger body of work, it stands to reason that perhaps he’s had too hot a year. Every rapper’s goals are to keep their names in people’s mouths, but you might want to hope that you’ve got songs worth doing that on their own merit.