With the rise of his success as rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine, Daniel Hernandez has seen his legal troubles also escalate. He pleaded guilty to a child sexual offence charge in 2015, was released on bail, and now awaits trial on racketeering and firearm charges; it’s from prison that he’s released his debut studio album, ‘Dummy Boy’. This is an overblown, cartoonish project that features a glut of high-profile artists who appear to do little but lend their names; ‘Dummy Boy’ is one of the most unlistenable rap records of this year.
Rising to prominence as a meme in 2017 when an image of him went viral, his propensity to shock and awe has carried him far. It’s seen him capture audiences worldwide and become a mainstream success. On ‘Dummy Boy’, though, what brought him fame seems to have gone missing – despite the hype, he’s delivered a bland project. Often, it’s as though he took what was in his drafts folder and released it as a “studio album.”
There is some half-decent stuff on‘Dummy Boy’: a track produced by Murda Beatz will always shine; features from Canadian multi-hyphenate artist Tory Lanez and Young Thug affiliate Gunna stick out; and Nicki Minaj re-ignites her beef with Remy Ma with the line “She threw dirt on my name, ended up at her own burial”. These features do give the album some foothold from which to build. Ultimately, though, it falls into itself. 6ix9ine is a clumsy lyricist. Seemingly uninterested in creating imagery with words, he has abandoned all basic tenets of rhyme structure. On tracks like ‘Tic Toc’, he raps, “Okay, get rocks, wrist go drip, drop / I do not kiss, you making shit hot / You think I’m dumb, I ain’t no kid / Thought you was in love / You ain’t my bitch, nah”.
Hernandez’s lyrics are usually full of braggadocio and pandemonium, ready to cause mayhem with each line. On ‘Dummy Boy’, all of that is missing. Instead, 6ix9ine raps bars without substance; they’re often meaningless words strung together to fill in the silence. Bars like “You a bum, are you dumb? Try me, I got this gun / Run, n*gga, if I’m here, don’t come” wouldn’t hold weight in a school playground.
On 12 of the 13 tracks, 6ix9ine has a guest artist featuring. He cedes the limelight to each, happy to take a backseat. This allows Nicki Minaj on ‘FEFE’ to throw down snappy, quick and memorable lines such as, “Keep this pussy in Versace, said I’m pretty like Tinashe” to appeal to another generation. Kanye West attempts to stay relevant simply by aligning himself (almost invisibly) with Tekashi, while ‘KIKA’ sees Tory Lanez croon away, doing little but reminding us that he exists. The production throughout the album is largely uninspired. 6ix9ine enlists blown-out mids, repetitive drum beats, hi-hats that drift in the background.
Tekashi has released ‘Dummy Boy’ at the apex of his fame, but at this stage, he’s little more than an internet phenomenon and controversy magnet who also raps. Due to his recent arrest, there’s a very real possibility that he will spend the rest of his life in jail. That, hopefully, will give him enough time to release a better project.