Old man Jack White, a maker of music and haver of opinions, has had a spotty run of both lately. On the press tour for his most polarizing solo album, Boarding House Reach, he’s taken some attention-grabbing stances, from restricting cell phone use at live shows to praising controversial psychologist Jordan Peterson. But neither really compare to his latest fawning over the rising hip-hop star 6ix9ine, who’s been accused of a disturbing sex crime.
In an interview with Clash published Monday, White echoes some of his past statements about the lack of “wildness” in rock music right now, and extends it to the rest of music, which isn’t really doing it for him. “I want someone to blow my mind right now,” White says. “Like a brand new band to come out and be like, ‘I can’t wait to hear that next song… That’s that moment that we don’t get enough of nowadays.”
But what he is into, however, is the current wave of SoundCloud rap—specifically calling attention to Brooklyn rapper 6ix9ine, who’s been charged with the use of a child in a sexual performance:
“In a lot of ways, it is the new punk rock,” White says of today’s rap scene. “They’re doing the dangerous things—whether it’s Trippie Redd or Tekashi69; these are a very punk, dangerous side of music.”
“Very punk” is one way to put it, “dangerous” a much more accurate choice of words. Despite the well-documented charges, 6ix9ine still debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard albums chart last month. It raises the question of whether or not a majority of listeners, White included, don’t know or simply don’t care about the extramusical factors. But as long as 6ix9ine keeps getting exuberant co-signs from some of the most visible people in music, his rise isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon.