For Tekashi 6ix9ine, gang life was apparently profitable — for a time, anyway.
Taking the stand on Tuesday, September 17, the 23-year-old “Fefe” artist spoke at length about his alleged connection to the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods and explained what he gained from aligning himself with the New York gang, USA TODAY reports.
The rapper, whose legal name is Daniel Hernandez, was arrested in November 2018 alongside other members of the gang in a wide-scale racketeering bust, but in February, he pleaded guilty to multiple federal charges and agreed to give prosecutors information about the gang as well as his activities within it, according to The New York Times. He reportedly admitted then that he joined the gang and during his time in it engaged in various illegal activities that included helping others in the gang attempt to kill a rival from another group.
On Tuesday, Hernandez testified against alleged Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods members Anthony “Harv” Ellison and Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack,” according to the New York Daily News. Both men are facing various firearm and racketeering charges, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York said earlier this year.
Hernandez said on the stand that the gang committed a multitude of “violent crimes,” including “shootings, robberies, assaults, drugs,” according to the Daily News.
Hernandez went into detail when discussing his own gang activity, claiming that his job was to “just keep making hits and be the financial support for the gang” in order for them to continue buying guns and “stuff like that,” according to USA TODAY. When asked what he got in return for filling that role, he reportedly replied, “I would say my career. Credibility. My videos, music, their protection.”
A number of Hernandez's music videos feature men flashing gang signs, and the rapper said Tuesday that he asked gang members to appear in the visuals for songs such as “Gummo” because he “wanted the aesthetic to be full of Nine Trey,” USA TODAY reports.
Clips from the rapper’s music videos were played for the courtroom, and Hernandez pointed out gang members as he saw them, according to the outlet.
Hernandez also spoke about how he publicized his connection to the gang, according to the New York Daily News. He has been known to say the words “Treyway” during his songs, and he reportedly explained on Tuesday that the moniker is “a more sophisticated way to name the gang. Something we could market.”
Hernandez also theorized that promoting “the gang image” helped launch his career, explaining, “That’s what people like. It was a formula, a blueprint, I found that worked.”
In addition to admitting to his own misdeeds, Hernandez also supplied the court with information on the gang’s inner workings, explaining during his testimony that the “street lineup” of gang members did their dealings under the direction of incarcerated gang members, who are higher up in the hierarchy, according to the Daily News.
Hernandez is scheduled to testify again on Wednesday, multiple outlets report.
The rapper’s decision to speak out against his former associates has been met with some backlash, with a few in the music industry, like rapper Snoop Dogg, calling him a snitch on social media. A prosecutor in the case has also previously suggested that Hernandez may need to be placed in the witness protection program at some point, according to The New York Times.
The controversial rapper, known for his trademark rainbow hair and unapologetic image, was kidnapped and robbed in July 2018, and prosecutors have since claimed that Ellison, one of the men Hernandez is testifying against, is responsible, according to a report from the New York Daily News. Ellison's attorney claimed back in August that the entire kidnapping was a hoax arranged to drum up publicity for Hernandez's album, the outlet reports.
“No robbery or kidnapping or assault happened. Didn’t happen,” lawyer Deveraux Cannick said, adding, “[Hernandez] trolls every time he’s about to drop a new album. Gotta get that buzz up. That’s how he makes money.”
In November, Hernandez seemed to publicly denounce the gang during an interview with “The Breakfast Club,” but he was, nevertheless, arrested days later.
He pleaded guilty in February to one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of firearms offense — racketeering conspiracy, three counts of violent crime in aid of racketeering, three counts of firearms offense, and one count of narcotics trafficking, according to NBC New York. He will be sentenced in January 2020, reports Pitchfork.
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