If you’re having suicidal thoughts and you need help, please call the National Suicidal Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. It’s absolutely free and they have trained professionals ready and willing to talk to you. You’re never alone.
It was an absolute necessity for me to start the review this way given that 6 Dogs committed suicide on January 26th of this year right before “RONALD.” was released. You might think that having an album coming out, a growing fanbase, and a path to stardom ahead of you would be the key to happiness. Unfortunately if you’re depressed fame is not a cure for what ails you and can actually make the situation a lot worse. You’re suddenly faced with the dilemma of being unhappy yet having to posture for your fans like everything is great and you’re living your best life. The disconnect between the two can easily push someone over the edge.
“New Chanel on wrist bone, life through a fish bowl” sing-raps 6 Dogs on “Starfire (Teen Titans),” doing his best to embrace the dichotomy of living like a baller while being uncomfortable with the whole world staring at him. It’s easy to say in hindsight that a career in music was not the best choice for the young man, but depression is real whether you’re a rap star or not. I take an antidepressant and I’m not ashamed to say it, because the only way we’re ever going to end the stigma about mental health is being honest about the fact we all struggle and no one has a perfect life. I’m not ashamed of reaching out for help when I needed it and I only wish that 6 Dogs had gotten it when he needed it before it was too late.
“RONALD.” is clearly influenced by the elements of pop culture 6 Dogs grew up with, the things that presumably brought him joy, like “Teen Titans” and “Spy Kids.” That helps me write this review, knowing that his whole life wasn’t just pain and misery, and that he did have moments where things were good. The depression still creeps into his music though. “Genie in a bottle/I’m feeling kind of hollow” is an inescapable song hook that emphasizes he felt unworthy of his own success. He tried to fake it though: “I think I won the lotto, I’m counting all these bankrolls.” It wasn’t enough.
It’s not a coincidence that 6 Dogs has a song called “Post Malone” on this album, because that’s the musician who clearly influenced his sound the most. That leads to a complicated truth that can’t be avoided. Like Malone himself, 6 Dogs has a lot of excellent production, and he matches that with some pitch corrected lyrics that aren’t always up to the beats. “Barbed wire tattoos, uhh, I’m like Barbie/Dior on my body, getting green like parsley.” I sincerely mean no disrespect to the dead, but that’s not any good. Maybe he knew that, maybe he didn’t, but you can’t listen to “Post Malone” with an honest ear and take those bars seriously.
In conclusion “RONALD.” proves that 6 Dogs had all the makings of a huge future star in mumble rap, even though it may have been for precisely all of the wrong reasons. He was following a proven formula to success, and to his credit he had it down pat, but it’s hard not to notice that he was cloning what worked. I’ll give the deceased the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was pushed into it by his record label, his producer, his manager, and whatever people were around him pushing him to be a star. Unfortunately they should have been worried more about his well being than how much money they were going to make off his records when he blew up, so now he’s just another artist who left us too soon. Nobody should be releasing their first studio album posthumously after taking their own life at only 21, so let’s resolve to remove the stigma around mental health once and for all.