TattleTales is a placeholder album designed to bring the spotlight back on 6ix9ine, lacking in much of anything of interest or worthwhile collabs.
It was always kinda unlikely that Tekashi 6ix9ine would be able to maintain interest for more than a couple album cycles, and indeed, 2020 has seen Daniel Hernandez flame out in a major way. It always seemed like 6ix9ine’s career was built upon borrowed time — his ascendancy self-attributed to his alignment with the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods and their legitimization of his aggressive brand. Still, credit where it’s due: 6ix9ine was sort of a dazzling media figure without a gang endorsement, amassing a very young, passionate fan base who responded to his anime villain persona and his deft subversion of traditional media rules. 6ix9ine could be a thrilling interviewee, with those who took him on (The Breakfast Club, The New York Times) generally coming away looking foolish, their inability to perceive their own complicity in promoting the rapper weaponized against them. But, complicit as they may be, the media’s shock and outrage over 6ix9ine’s success wasn’t unfounded, his very recent past marred by accusations of domestic violence that he doesn’t dispute after all. But this was never a deterrent for his fans, nor for other high profile rappers who hopped on his tracks with little hesitation.
It’s possible that 6ix9ine might’ve kept his winning streak up had he not snitched on his Nine Trey compatriots. Yet, here we are with the snidely titled TattleTales, a zestless album hastily assembled in the wake of his early (COVID-influenced) release. Mostly a placeholder release designed to bring the spotlight back on the Dummy Boy rapper after spending a year in prison, TattleTales offers a watered down take on Hernandez’s watered down take on the Members Only aesthetic. The continued commitment to playing heel does little to provoke here, mostly because 6ix9ine refuses to deliver on the premise of his own title, not offering us any genuine tales about his tattling. There’s a throwaway reference in the single “GOOBA” (“Tell me how I ratted, came home to a big bag”) that implies feelings of indifference, but it’s hard to glean anything beyond that. Indifference is arguably TattleTales defining feature, summarized by barely considered lyrics — “Play me like a dummy, like bitch, are you dumb? / Are you dumb, stupid, or dumb, huh?” — and half-hearted stabs at genre pivot (there’s an OK reggaeton song).
The album is pretty depersonalized on top of all that, bizarrely opening on “Locked Up Pt. 2”, a remix of Akon’s iconic 2004 single “Locked Up.” Akon shows up again later on the album’s tenth track, “Leah,” interpolating Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” (the man is evidently taking a break from building the city of the future); it’s an appealingly gonzo pop culture car wreck, yes, but also the sort of desperate gimmick one pays for when Kanye and Gunna stop taking your calls. Nicki Minaj, ever the loyal friend, is the one bright spot here, her verse on the hit single “TROLLZ” the least perfunctory moment on the album; The Barbz is likely the only reason TattleTales didn’t completely bomb. But it was indeed a flop, selling one-third of first week sales projections. It’s hard to imagine 6ix9ine recovering his audience’s interest after such a dire album drop, and based on the songs collected here, one suspects his interest in his own project has waned.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Q3 2020 Issue.