“I’m calling it now, I’m the next Tupac.” – Tekashi 6ix9ine

Is hip-hop that far gone?

For a while now I’ve been trying to disregard this new wave of rap thinking that it would soon pass and most of them would be yesterday’s news. However, one rapper in particular is becoming increasingly harder to ignore — Tekashi 6ix9ine. I realized I couldn’t avoid him anymore when people in my Tupac and Hip-Hop Revolution class brought him up as the topic of discussion.

It started off as a mild conversation about the things he said in his recent Breakfast Club interview, but what made me pause in my seat immediately was a statement made by my professor. In but so many words he basically said Tekashi 6ix9ine has the potential to be the next Tupac because of his pull in the streets and the fact that people love to hate him. In his defense, I want to say he truly doesn’t believe that, but it didn’t make it any less appalling to hear. At this point I just had to sit and reflect. Am I that out of touch? Is his fan base that strong? Do people really believe that? Even with his abrasive personality, colorful appearance and troublesome back story, people still gravitate towards him. 

To say the least, the conversation in class peaked my interest so I figured I should give him a fair chance before I pass my musical judgment on him.  Prior to this discussion, I knew little to nothing about 6ix9ine besides the outrageous headlines I would see about his latest beefs, cancelled shows, or child court case and I didn’t want to make assumptions based on misguided opinions. A lot of people believe an artist’s personal life can have a huge impact on  their career, but I personally think it’s possible to separate a person from their art. That being said, I made it my business to analyze his music first and then focus on who he is as an artist/ individual to form my full opinion on him.

I tried to give his ‘DAY69’ project a chance, but honestly by the time I got to “KEKE” I couldn’t take it anymore. From what I did hear, I took his music as what’s called “organized chaos.” Shout out to his producers because they make fire beats for him, but the blaring sirens and ringing gunshots heard throughout a lot of his songs are amplified by his raging voice rapping about, from what I could tell, violence, gangs, and more. His music might’ve been a bit more tolerable if it wasn’t shrouded in noise and bad flows. It’s hard to pinpoint his style when I’m not even sure he knows. If you understand music you can hear that same grit adopted by other rap artists like Onyx and N.W.A., but it doesn’t sound like he’s doing anything unique with it. He’s just not my cup of tea, but respectively you can’t deny the influence he clearly has on this new generation.

He claims that he’s “the next Tupac” because he’s hated by so many, but somehow still managed to blow up. However, I completely disagree because that statement is an insult to what Tupac represented in his music and outside of it. Tupac was a rapper, an actor, a poet, an activist, and an icon. In my opinion, Tekashi 6ix9ine doesn’t have the influence nor the ability to stand the test of time the way Tupac has. The fact that people are still playing his music, making movies and documentaries about him and teaching college courses based on his ideas 20 plus years after his death is quite compelling. I don’t believe Tekashi will ever have that powerful impact on rap much less the world. However, I do think the impact he’s having on the younger generation is worth recognizing as far as his quick rise to fame and budding mainstream success.

To be one of the most controversial rappers out right now with such a messy background, somehow he has still managed to get his music to the masses. In an interview with REVOLT, he talked about his career and beating the odds despite people trying their hardest to count him out. “They tied cinderblocks to my legs, threw me in the ocean, and said ‘N***a, swim up.’ And look where the f**k I’m at. Now, what are you gonna tell me? What can you tell me to knock me off my horse.” Me being one of those people who viewed him a throw away, you have to give him his props as being one of the most talked about new rappers in the game right now.

That brings me to my next point. A lot of people, including 6ix9ine, have been throwing a label on him as the face of new hip-hop and the “King of New York,” but are we getting ahead of ourselves? I still think he has a lot of work to put in before we can even think about giving him the honor of carrying those titles, much less comparing him to one of the greatest hip-hop legends ever. We sometimes have a tendency to appoint a popular artist to an esteemed position when their work ethic and message doesn’t match up to the title. We can’t make Tekashi the face of a movement when he doesn’t actually relate to it. We have lumped him and all other new artists together just because they all seem to look, act, and sound the same, but that’s where we’re all mistaken. I think Tekashi is doing his own thing, separate from what a lot of these other rappers are doing. That doesn’t mean I care for his music or think it’s making any monumental changes, but we should let these artists be individuals. He’s not the new face of rap nor is he anything close to the next Tupac. I think we all need to sit back and see where Tekashi 6ix9ine is a year from now and then maybe we can start including him in some more conversations regarding Hip-Hop.