In one of Jack White’s earlier interviews promoting his new album Boarding House Reach, he raised some eyebrows by expressing fondness for the controversial and influential philosopher Jordan Peterson. He has a new feature in the UK publication Clash, and once again he has expressed admiration for a polarizing figure.
This time the recipient of White’s praise is 6ix9ine, the breakout rap star accused of child sex crimes. During the interview, White reflects on his hip-hop awakening, pointing out the “punk” quality of rap music today. That leads to a shoutout for 6ix9ine — who White refers to by his former stage name Tekashi69 — as well as his SoundCloud rap rival Trippie Redd. “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.”
The feature does not include the interviewer pushing back on whether White knows about the allegations against 6ix9ine — he’s facing charges of use of a child in a sexual performance for uploading footage of a 13-year-old — so it’s unclear exactly how seriously we are to take White’s praise for the rapper’s “dangerous” qualities. What we do get from the former White Stripe is an expansion beyond the world of SoundCloud rap and into praise for Nicki Minaj’s “Only.”
“I mean, some of those lyrics are like, ‘Holy shit!'” White says regarding Minaj’s track. “I, as an adult, listening to that by myself, am shocked at some of the words that I’m hearing. But it’s brilliant! It’s brilliant to be able to say that, to be able to say whatever you want. I couldn’t get away with saying half of those things that Nicki Minaj says in that song. It’s just brilliant to see how far things have gone in that sense, and how cool it is for people to talk about these moments and say, ‘Wow, check this out.'”
Is this what White meant when he called for “an injection of some new young blood” into rock and roll?