With the vast majority of young people plugged in to varying forms of social media, artists today have better connectivity with their fans than ever before. Rather than occasional news stories, rappers and other artists can post personal pictures online, live stream to their fans and move the line closer between the artist and the people. This isn’t news to anybody though. Social media is now a way that rappers can scale up over their opponents and boost their internet presence through, more often than not, unnecessary beef. The days of deep-rooted rivalries seem to be beyond us and instead we have rappers threatening to kill each other over some pretty mundane things. I am young myself, but over the past year or two things have become seemingly worse as we allow people to become global sensations and instead of focussing on their talent, all people seem to care about is how many followers they have, how tough they are or how many people they’ve killed.
The Brooklyn native Daniel Hernandez, more commonly known as 6ix9ine is the epitome of the message. He’s hugely popular with people of my generation and his “7 from 7” line that we know all too well (that he has charted on the US Billboard 7 times in a row), speaks volumes for his influence and rapid success in this industry. Much of his current fame is based around controversy and although it appears like entertainment to us, it’s unlikely to end well for him. I am a fan of his music but his non-musical movements are what he is most known for; especially his ‘beef’ with numerous other rappers in short spaces of time. The most recent feud being between him and Chicago rappers Tadoe and Chief Keef. It started with him and Tadoe arguing on Instagram and has recently led to Keef being shot at on a trip to New York and then 6ix9ine walking around Chicago practically asking to be attacked.
It makes me question when it will end, because for people growing up they are beginning to consider this as normal within the industry. There’s even a chance up-and-coming rappers may feel the need to involve themselves in this lifestyle to improve their online presence, which most would see as a problem. We should be praising talented individuals for their artistry not their stupidness.
How far can this go? He taunts other rappers, begging them to “test his gangster”, but how far is he actually willing to go to promote his music, is he truly willing to die over this beef? Most people actually believe so, especially the younger fans who are more heavily influenced by the things their idols do and say. I think it’s dangerous with the current youth because even if we hate to admit it, young people have always been impressionable and in our society people feel the pressures of social media more than ever. This type of mindset is not good for the youth, especially when in many cases these rappers are talking about lives they don’t live. The reality of the lifestyles portrayed in rap culture are never what they are made out to be. There’s a reason people involved in that lifestyle tend to end up behind bars or tragically dead.
People are sceptical and many suspect it’s all a troll and 6ix9ine isn’t serious about everything he addresses in his music or says on his Instagram live. It’s dangerous because whilst for him this could all be a joke and even more than that a good marketing scheme, it impacts people’s lives because kids will be hearing this and trying to replicate it. 6ix9ine deserves to be spoken about in depth because the guy is talented and the statistics speak for themselves, he has had major billboard success and is only 22 years old. I’m sure many out there are hoping he can continue this. Regular leaks of unreleased music is a good sign he has a time left to shine within the rap community, but if that’s all cut short over some unnecessary beef then we have to say it’s gone too far.
Very recent news has brought to light the death of XXXTentacion, who is arguably one of the most successful rappers of the past year. His death, although not confirmed to be related to a rap feud, should have a profound effect on the entire rap community because as the new era of rappers place little importance on their lives, XXX was of late promoting positivity across all of his social media platforms. His charitable ambitions and messages may not be fulfilled but they won’t be forgotten.
Although XXX had legal issues regarding domestic violence and a history of personal demons, he dedicated a lot of time in recent months to try and spread the right message. He knew about the rap ‘beef’ more than most, it was a huge part of his early career and I am sure if he could have warned rappers personally he would have told them to stop the unnecessary beef because it is definitely not worth it. I don’t think all the fake beefing can go much further because hopefully people open their eyes to it all. In a surprising change of heart, 6ix9ine in light of XXX’s death (the two being friends), confessed on Instagram that he would stop some of his actions, uploading a video with the caption “I take life for granted.. forgive me if I offended anyone…” and admitting that perhaps the trolling had gone too far. These rappers are in positions of power whether they like it or not. We want to hear their music and their message but if the latter is dangerous we start questioning them as people and not as rappers.
Music tastes vary; my generation hail a wave of rappers that our parents and teachers can’t bare to listen to, but what everyone knows is that with the death of an artist we lose their art, it would be a terrible thing if the ‘beef’ we find so entertaining started taking more lives from the world. Focus on the music because these guys know how to make hits. Let’s hope they stick to the billboards and not the beef.