Photo: Shareif Ziyadat / WireImage via Getty Images
  /  07.30.2018

‘I Guess’ is Kathy Iandoli’s battle cry of #shruglife. It’s everything that impresses us and unimpresses us—which could be one in the same given the day.

I remember scrolling through Instagram a decent while back and coming up on this clip of a guy with multi-colored hair and matching teeth hanging on the outside of a moving truck yelling “SOMEBODY CALL THE FUCKIN’ DOCTOR!” and snapping into overdrive fueled by intense rap delivery before the IG video time limit cut it off. I was impressed by his ability to yell and not go hoarse, but also by how his shout-rap was reminiscent of Onyx back in the day. You know, that super aggression where you want to punch someone in the face and then shake them senseless?

Then I learned it was Teka$hi 6ix9ine and his single “Billy,” and I immediately felt like shit. I was baptized Roman Catholic, so I’m used to all that guilt, especially when it comes to liking music from an artist you’re not supposed to enjoy (I wasn’t allowed to watch Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” video as a kid because of all the burning crucifixes). We’ve all heard the stories of 6ix9ine’s early charges of using an underage girl in a “sexual performance,” yet that never really stopped his glow up.

Now, “FEFE” is the king/queen of the charts, due largely to Nicki Minaj’s stellar delivery. But prior to this new mark of achievement, 6ix9ine was wading in and out of the public’s favor. Yeah, he was getting his reps in with 50 Cent over Instagram, talking that bully shit that rappers do nowadays on social media, tempering it with handing out food to the underprivileged, and parading around with other rappers’ girlfriends.

Then just last week, he almost lost his life due to an assault and robbery outside of his home and went back on Instagram to say that he’s learned how tomorrow’s not promised and he’ll be donating a percentage of “FEFE’s” earnings to charity—more specifically, “the community.” The content of his music remains the same; sexually-charged and violent, yet publically he’s reflecting a new leaf. Who really knows. These grandiose gestures yield conflicting feelings, where you wonder how much longer you can boycott music if a young artist is trying to change. He’s not releasing a 19-minute song confessing to being trash. I’m looking at you, R. Kelly. Yet, 6ix9ine’s also being beatified on Earth the way XXXTentacion is in the afterlife, with a sprinkling in of people challenging his past in the wake of his successful present. It’s all so draining.

We are smack dab in the middle of the revelation that many, many artists are awful people. Everyone has at least one skeleton in their closet, and we’re left examining each bone to determine if we have to throw all 206 away. Some of it is happening in real time, while others are manifested in the form of old videos and new confessions that surface from victims of the respective parties. Once again, it’s draining, especially when an artist has an entire legacy already built, they’re beloved, and their fan base is left with the difficult decision of turning their backs on the artist or a blind eye to their sins. In 6ix9ine’s case, we’re witnessing an artist who came out the gate with a bad rap sheet and is still making significant strides, which doesn’t say much about our moral compasses, but everything about our attention spans.

This isn’t a thinkpiece geared toward “canceling” 6ix9ine, nor is it one glorifying his desire to change his life. It’s more just a reflection of where we’re at as a society, and basically where we’ve always been.

There is nothing an artist can do that is reprehensible enough to overshadow a hot single. Nothing. Find me one instance where a worldwide boycott happened of an artist that outlived the time it takes to refresh a Twitter page. “So and so is canceled.” No they’re not. They never will be. They’ll make a new song and we’ll forget. We always do.

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