A recent separation in the rap scene has begun to put many lyrical ‘old-heads’ against the fresh ‘young bloods’ in a fight to see what direction the game is currently swinging. Seemingly one of the centerpieces for modern rap hostility and divisiveness is Brooklyn artist 6ix9ine, also known as Tekashi69, whose future seems foggy considering his multiple arrests and legal conflicts that began over two years ago. Amid current charges, 6ix9ine released DUMMY BOY as his first studio album. Sadly, the project did not live up to the hype it has accumulated since the beginning of November. Even with some interesting and hypnotic beats, DUMMY BOY does little to stand on its own as a complete and cohesive LP.
Beats that try their best
Before the larger part of this review gets underway, an explanation of the style 6ix9ine uses is required. Along with many modern rap artists, 6ix9ine creates instrumentals and backgrounds in each song that are given more attention than the actual lyrics. While picking apart DUMMY BOY, you begin to understand this principle much better.
For most traditional hip-hop fans, this is not going to be a mellow ride where the artist extracts pieces of their own soul and belts it out of their vocal cords for the masses. 6ix9ine and similar artists are more about blasting out your speakers as you ride down city streets. So for anyone not looking for that experience, you have been warned.
However, that does not mean the album is void of any sort of instrumental talent. Many of the tracks featured in DUMMY BOY contain a diverse array of sounds. Every song from “FEFE” to “TATI” does a decent job at trying to stand out, each showcasing a special quality that can be heard from the very first playthrough.
Great examples include “BEBE” and “MALA” which emulate a great atmosphere with assistance from steel drums. Both do an excellent job of replicating a Latin pop feel that truly stands out from the rest of the album in a good way. From the moment “TIC TOC” begins with a smooth guitar lick, you know you are in for a swell ride. That guitar mixes quite well with the drum machines and bass, and in doing so does not become repetitive as the sensation of metronome ticks back and forth in your mind.
Possibly the best beat from the entire tracklist comes from the song “KANGA.” With a melodic flow that begins within the first 10 seconds, you are almost hypnotized into swinging your hips back and forth and bouncing up and down. “STOOPID” is also a great way to start off the album and “WONDO” contains some interesting effects with measures of piano sprinkled throughout.
Over a first playthrough, you can feel and hear the variations in each fresh song as you travel down the queue. On subsequent listens though, many sections you loved the first time around begin to fade. The rest of the songs on DUMMY BOY sadly start to blend in with the other trap hits you have heard busting out of every hot 100 playlist. It causes a lack of identity for the album that worsens the more you hear it.
Even with many sections of the project bringing out the best in 6ix9ine’s vision, it may just be a matter of time before most tracks become unrecognizable. To be fair, when compared to other hit songs of this subgenre, the slight unique touch 6ix9ine gives to a decent number of these songs shows he can be creative even to a minimal degree.
Songwriting is not a strong suit
6ix9ine is also of a much harder style of rappers that don’t hold back when it comes to discussing criminal activity. From the very beginning, critical storytelling ability and thought-provoking rhymes fly right out the window. However, in a few cases, 6ix9ine shows a respectable amount of lyrical prowess.
The best example of this within DUMMY BOY is “FEEFA”, a track sung in conjunction with southern rapper Gunna that shows a more toned down and mellow 6ix9ine. The song showcases how the dangerous world he lives in and how the controversies surrounding him have affected his psyche.
The lyrics detail many aspects of everyday life that have unfortunately become commonplace for him. These include stress and anxiety about his own friends turning against him, only being safe when traveling with a weapon on his hip and praying that God can watch over his family if he is dealt harsh punishment for his actions. The outro paints a very simple picture about just trying to stay afloat and the consequences he will surely have to deal with later on.
“BEBE” and “MALA” both show 6ix9ine’s lyrical ability in the way he busts boundaries and sings both songs almost exclusively in Spanish. This shows a completely different side to 6ix9ine than what most people know and embraces his Hispanic heritage in an interesting way. Puerto Rican MC Anuel AA is a nice addition as well, and together the artists create a set of tracks that are unique compared to the rest of the album.
Unfortunately, this is really where the meaningful expression of the project stops dead. By a little over halfway through the album, each song’s message just meshes together with the others. Everything seems to be about the stereotypical rapper brags you hear in a multitude of other uber-popular hits. Based solely upon the evidence of DUMMY BOY, 6ix9ine could be considered the most predictable artist of 2018.
To go along with this, it seems there are two 6ix9ine’s that exist within this album. One is a more sentimental artist straining to show how he can produce softer tones while not forgetting his harder roots. The other is the more familiar face, spitting lyrics into the mic without regard for what his delivery sounds like in the end. This half of 6ix9ine is far less enjoyable to the listener and the difference in delivery seesaws between what seems to be every other song, making the whole album less cohesive.
If nothing else, his flow does feel hypnotic in a way. Criticism based on the individual parts of the LP will definitely see DUMMY BOY as a failure, but the album serves its purpose well even if it lacks the individuality of lyrical poetry that makes rap special.
Lackluster at best, incomplete at worst
The larger problem when it comes to DUMMY BOY is what can only be described as its cohesiveness. For example, about a third of the songs on DUMMY BOY are singles released prior to the album. To be fair, that is not a big deal for many music artists today and has become the norm for new album releases no matter the genre.
The overarching problem encountered in DUMMY BOY, though, is that besides those 4 singles, there are really only 2 original songs doing the grunt work to make the album presentable: “KANGA” and ‘MAMA,” which both feature much more recognizable stars Kanye West and Nicki Minaj. The majority of the music found on this album is just mediocre at best.
The other tracks don’t try anything new lyrically, and when all that’s left is the beat, the feeling of boredom sets in pretty fast. It all just mixes together in a way that causes a bad aftertaste in the listener’s ears.
After a prolonged period of hype and waiting, DUMMY BOY just does not hit every note in the sequence. Though it is fairly enjoyable in a good portion of its contents, overall, it just seems ambitious but lacks a hook that sets it apart from the crowd. First impressions are a defining factor in your staying power in the music industry, and 6ix9ine just does not express enough talent on DUMMY BOY to warrant much acclaim.
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Featured Image: Complex
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