Arts and Entertainment

You’re Mad, He’s Back

A look at the return of infamous rapper 6ix9ine and how he remains relevant.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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By Yume Igarashi

Against all odds, 6ix9ine has returned. Amidst the chaos of COVID-19, the infamous rainbow-haired Brooklyn rapper has been released from prison seven months early and placed on house arrest, citing his asthma as a health risk. He dropped a new song “GOOBA” and went live on Instagram with a record-breaking two million viewers heralding his comeback on May 8. In his livestream, he fired back at his haters, celebrated his newfound freedom, and promised big things for the future. With “GOOBA” hitting #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and 6ix9ine re-entering the minds of his millions of fans and detractors, it seems that the self-proclaimed king of New York is back in full force.

The continued success and relevancy of 6ix9ine is a bit of an enigma considering his storied past. He has been involved in violent “beefs” with numerous rappers, pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor, and admitted to being a domestic abuser. Most notably, he has been a central figure in the trial of the Nine Trey Gangsters, a still unfolding saga. When the gang’s members, including 6ix9ine, were arrested on various charges, the rapper snitched on his fellow members. By cooperating with authorities and meticulously laying out the crimes committed and those who were involved, he was able to cut down his original 37 years in prison to a mere two. Despite his insistence that the other members had been disloyal to him long before he snitched, he has become the subject of ridicule from many who felt that the tough persona he portrayed in his music was broken down. Yet because he was able to weaponize that ridicule, he was relevant and eventually propelled forward when released from prison..

While he may not necessarily be wise or learned, 6ix9ine is fantastic at constructing his own narrative. He has a knack for getting people’s attention, whether it be through his distinctive rainbow-colored hair, loud and aggressive music, or various antics. What makes this so effective though is his persistence. 6ix9ine was constantly making headlines in 2018, whether it was beef with another famous rapper or a controversial statement in an interview. In fact, since the release of “GOOBA,” he has already gotten into major drama, accusing Billboard of chart manipulation that allowed Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber’s song “Stuck with U” to hit #1 on the Hot 100 and feuding with veteran rapper Snoop Dogg. These events have garnered 6ix9ine some ire, but in the end, it doesn’t matter if you like him or hate him. All that matters is that you care and that you’ll be swept into his narrative and the next one.

Within his narrative, 6ix9ine embodies a villainous persona, constantly agitating conflict with other famous artists, which in turn attracts even more drama and attention as the situation snowballs. Case in point with the aforementioned Billboard controversy, in which Bieber and Grande both responded to 6ix9ine. Billboard even wrote a lengthy article addressing his claims. The drama has largely faded away but demonstrates how effectively 6ix9ine can provoke a response, especially considering his unfounded and misinformed accusations. He will no doubt soon return to stir the pot and create more chaos, garnering him more notoriety and reputation as hip-hop’s supervillain. At the end of the day, what matters to him most as an artist is clout, and the best way to get attention is drama.

Even 6ix9ine’s music is a platform for him to stoke the flames. “GOOBA” is pretty standard fare for 6ix9ine, with heavy bass, aggressive vocals, and tons of quotables: “are you dumb, stupid, or dumb, huh?” It serves as a mocking, insanely annoying shot back at his haters, in which he fully embraces his reputation as a snitch, or rat. After a verse dedicated to taunting his enemies, he ends the song with the line “Tell me how I ratted, came home to a big bag,” turning the biggest criticism against him into a major flex. He has every right to flex, seeing how his music career is flourishing again and his snitching has paid off. While it is still early to say what the future holds for 6ix9ine, it seems he can rest easy in the year of the rat.