Tekashi 6ix9ine’s ‘TattleTales’ Tries to Turn Trolling Into an Art Form: Album Review

If outrage could be magnified, commodified and made into hard currency — and then accessorized with sloppy rainbow dreadlocks — that billion-dollar bankroll would be Tekashi 6ix9ine, the rapper-troll whose main goal in life is rubbing others’ noses in his mess.

That’s hardly editorializing when you consider the title of his his fresh-from-prison-release new album: “TattleTales.” This from a guy who has nearly made snitching into an ugly art form by taunting the vert Brooklyn gang he snitched on.

Also among 6ix9ine’s claims to fame: the criminal act of having a 13-year-old child pose sexual acts as part of a livestream video; his alleged choking a 16-year-old in a Houston shopping mall;  An admission of having ordered a hit on Chief Keef, just one of many fellow rappers (see also: Trippie Redd, Meek Mill, Lil Durk) with whom 6ix9ine has shared an Internet beef.

In the run-up to this week’s release of his first LP after an early release from prison (due to COVID-19), and his full-album follow-up to 2018’s “Dummy Boy,” 6ix9ine managed to make himself even more unlikeable, painting targets on his back while taunting those who might kill him. When he wasn’t busy last week trolling L.A. gang members by revealing his location in the Hollywood Hills, 6ix9ine managed to sneak in his first post-prison interview with the New York Times. There, he suggested he’ll vote for vote for Trump in the upcoming presidential election, vowed to continue to use the N-word (despite not being Black) because he’s from Brooklyn, kind of admitted that he inflates his streaming figures through bots and pre-roll ads (“Who doesn’t? Everybody inflates their numbers”), declared that his snitching on his one-time gang brethren was no worse than what they did to him, and compared himself to one of hip-hop’s most beloved figures, Tupac Shakur.

Few are spared from ridicule, be it those of the muslim faith (“GOOBA”); Ray Charles (on “Charlie,” 6ix9ine waxes, “Ray Charles, I ain’t never seen a b— I need”); John Cena (on “Gata”); and North Korea’s dictator (“Nini” features the unfortunate rhyme: “Leave them in a coma like Kim Jong Un / Body operation like Kardashian”).

Of his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it time in prison, 6ix9ine offers “Locked Up 2,” which offers insight into his legal strategy (“Fighting with my lawyers for a better offer”) and cautions his former gang associates (“Everybody wanna talk the street code / But only followin’ is convenient for them / They quick to tell you that they’d ride for you, die for you / But quick to bite the hand that feeds them”). On “GTL,” he hints at having even more to rat (“They can say what they want, they don’t know what I know / Ain’t nothing you can tell me about this life I chose / I was facing 47, you was sitting at home”) and on the album’s closing  track “AVA,” he shares “Don’t trust nobody / Show no love to nobody / N– wanna take what’s mine / N– want my life.”

The moderately less outrageous examples of his Times trolling included defending his lack of interest in socially conscious music to being a Big Mac provider (“You don’t go to McDonald’s and get filet mignon”), while claiming he’ll never change (“Why would I want to? It’s made me millions of dollars”).

6ix9ine is both a newsmaker and a notable part of the hip-hop continuum, although the jury is out on whether his billions of YouTube views point to a knack for hitmaking or just the result of the ridiculous things he says and rhymes. 6ix9ine may himself provide an answer in the track “Trollz,” when he raps: “I know you don’t like me, you wanna fight me / You don’t want no problems at your party, don’t invite me.” A statement of fact and good sense — irritating, but true.

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