Review: 6ix9ine, ‘Dummy Boy’

On his debut album, 6ix9ine dips his hand in a pick-n-mix of popular formulas.

At this stage, Tekashi 6ix9ine needs no introduction. Throughout 2018 the rapper has marvelled in controversy, quickly becoming the most polarising future in rap, which has only elevated his bombastic profile. Benign to the artist, publications repeatedly cover the controversy rather than discussing the music. His screamo style laid adrenaline-packed singles like “Gummo”, “Keke” and “Kooda” on the commercial frontline. 6ix9ine has refused to take a breather despite the legal issues, preparing his second project of the year following his highest-charting single to date, “Fefe”.

Dummy Boy marvels in replay value thanks to borrowed formulas that give 6ix9ine greater commercial accessibility than his debut mixtape, Day69.

Throughout Dummy Boy, 6ix9ine enlists the owners of the recipes to make them work. The tracks “Tic Toc” and the ultra smooth”Feefa” feature addictive guitar strums – the signature sound of Lil Baby and Gunna – while “Kika” with Tory Lanez mimics Kodak Black’s viral success “Zeze”. Steel drums and twanging guitars are the driving forces of these songs; highly unoriginal yet undoubtedly addictive.

Elsewhere, 6ix9ine treads a thin line between employing essay templates and blatantly copying a classmate’s homework. Structurally, opening track “Stoopid” is all over the place – easily 6ix9ine’s weakest single of the year. The song embezzles the flow of Rowdy Rebel’s “Computers”, losing any credibility it could have held. Although 6ix9ine attempts to pay homage, the phone-recorded verse by the imprisoned Bobby Shmurda is an awkward inclusion aside the unnecessary intro monologue.

The star-studded “Mama” inhabits the grey area of the album; songs that lack the identity of 6ix9ine or stolen formulas. Performances from Nicki Minaj and Kanye West complete the song, elbowing 6ix9ine from the spotlight into an underwhelming hook. Alternatively, the comical “Kanga” provides ignorant chemistry between 6ix9ine and Kanye West as they trade bars between each other in the song’s latter half.

Throughout Dummy Boy, 6ix9ine consciously avoids being a one-trick pony. However, he opts to erase the quality that made his tracks unique. “Tati” is what remains of 6ix9ine’s energetic style, featuring whirring production and signature flows without the assistance of a guest appearance. Penultimate track “Wondo” carries similar energy, serving a plate of claps and menacing pianos.

However, the same songs have their weaknesses. More often than not, 6ix9ine’s crude content becomes overwhelming upon realisation it is being exhausted (“Wondo”). Weak vocals by A Boogie wit da Hoodie plague the energetic “Waka”, a song on the peripheral of 6ix9ine’s signature style but is unable to reach full potential.

6ix9ine continues to follow trends on the Latin pop cuts “Bebe” and “Mala”. Both tracks carry melody, but aren’t without their gimmicky traits; one-dimensional reggaeton drum patterns and further steel pans. These are further examples of the conventions of Dummy Boy – repeated ideas that are enjoyable in singularity, but not as a full-length project.

When the formulas work, Dummy Boy can brag replay value. Yet the irony cannot be denied; the best parts of Dummy Boy do not descend from 6ix9ine. The album succeeds in sonic accessibility, but sacrifices 6ix9ine’s distinctive traits in the process.

Rating: 5 / 10

Best tracks: “Tati”, “Feefa”, “Wondo”, “Kika”, “Tic Toc”