Tekashi 6ix9ine never dreamed of being a rap star. In an interview with the No Jumper podcast (via The New York Times) the Brooklyn native claimed, « I just thought of making music because everybody was like: ‘You look mad cool.' » Nonetheless, his short career spawned 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles despite the fact that he reportedly « never hired a publicist. » Tekashi, who’s real name is Daniel Hernandez, managed to grab the spotlight partly because of his rowdy raps, his penchant for public feuds, and the fact that he has the number 69 tattooed on him more than 200 times. Most of all, the Dummy Boy rapper is a magnet for controversy — from a 2015 child-sexual-misconduct case to his own kidnapping. In just three years, his rap sheet grew so convoluted it’s a feat to keep it straight.
The final straw seemingly came in November 2018, when 6ix9ine was arrested alongside his former business associates on federal racketeering and firearms charges. His ensuing trial and incarceration were as wild as the brief musical career that preceded them. Here’s what it was like for Tekashi 6ix9ine behind bars.
His arrest may have saved his life
As part of Tekashi’s sex crimes sentencing, the rapper was ordered to « stay away from known gang members — or risk prison, » according to The New York Times. It wasn’t until a label-meeting-turned-brawl that resulted in a security guard firing shots that Tekashi let go of his entire team (with the exception of label head Elliot Grainge). Not long after, the rapper took to Instagram to disown « Treyway » (the term refers to both 6ix9ine’s manager Kifano « Shottie » Jordan and the Nine Trey Gangasta Bloods street gang). He made the news official during an appearance on The Breakfast Club, (via Courthouse News) and his release Dummy Boy was devoid of Treyway namedrops. The whole thing ruffled the feathers of his former colleagues so much that they allegedly planned to retaliate.
As it turns out, Tekashi’s November 2018 arrest may have actually saved his life. The New York Times reports that F.B.I. agents wiretapped some of 6ix9ine’s former crew members, who claimed they wanted to « super violate » the rapper « for his disrespect » following his Breakfast Club appearance. Federal agents warned the Brooklyn native that they might « try to kill him, » but he denied the F.B.I.’s offer for full-time protection. A couple days later, he was indicted alongside his former Treyway associates.
Tekashi 6ix9ine only got two years
Tekashi 6ix9ine had been behind bars since his November 2018 arrest — and for a while, it looked like he’d be there much longer. According to Courthouse News, the Soundcloud rapper was denied bail despite offering $1.5 million and agreeing to give up his passport. In December 2018, TMZ reported that the rapper refused to consider a plea deal, though Rolling Stone revealed that he faced 32 years to life. There was also allegedly some pretty significant evidence against him. Though, it’s unclear how much is related to his nasty live-streaming habit.
Tekashi might have played a tough game at the start. Rolling Stone reports that he first pleaded not guilty in November 2019, but he eventually waffled and admitted guilt. According to the The New York Times, as part of his plea bargain, he snitched on seemingly everyone and anyone allegedly associated Nine Trey, including Cardi B, who previously admitted to GQ that she was once associated with the Blood-affiliated gang. Though Snoop Dogg mercilessly ripped on the rapper for spilling the beans — unlike his « baby girl » Martha Stewart, who kept her mouth shut and « ate that prison sentence » — the Daily News revealed that 6ix9ine « barely knew » the gang members he ratted on, so he didn’t consider himself a snitch. Per the The New York Times, the « Fefe » singer was sentenced to two years in prison, with the 13 months he previously spent in federal jail counting towards his sentence.
He got into a gang-related fight on the inside
Celebrity status is often a one-way ticket to your own prison cell — even when the rest of the prison population has to share. Just look at Bill Cosby, who initially managed to temporarily skirt having a roommate at Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institute at Phoenix. However, this wasn’t the case for 6ix9ine, who was incarcerated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. According to TMZ, the rapper was placed in the general population at the « notoriously brutal, » and an unfortunate scuffle with some gang members soon followed.
Tekashi is an alleged member (or former member) of a Bloods-affiliated gang, so when he was in the intake area, he was reportedly confronted by members of the Crips, who told him he « better understand who’s in charge. » TMZ claimed the star was « G-checked, » which means his fellow inmates « stepped up to him to see if he’s a real gangsta or just a wannabe. » For the record: 6ix9ine’s legal team has been claiming the star did fake his tough-guy image (which apparently sells records but doesn’t make jailhouse friends). Regardless of his questionable credibility, the confrontation allegedly didn’t shake the rapper. Prison staff reportedly intervened before Tekashi was served a major smackdown, and his attorney claimed he « was not scared, » despite being threatened.
It was nothing like Club Fed
If Tekashi’s intake kerfuffle wasn’t enough to prove it, TMZ reports that the rapper’s time at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) was almost nothing like Orange Is the New Black. The federal jail is notoriously rough despite the fact that yuppie criminal Martin Shkreli temporarily called it home. It reportedly holds some of the highest-risk inmates including « extremely dangerous, violent or escape-prone » criminals (and rich pharma bros who purchase rare Wu-Tang albums). CNBC took a deep dive into MDC when Shkreli was incarcerated and claimed the place is « grim, » « smelly » and lacking « the types of services » that make prison life slightly « more bearable. » It’s got no classes or schooling, which Tekashi could probably use considering he was supposed to obtain his GED as part of his child sex crimes plea agreement. According to Jezebel, the star had yet to pass the test in January 2018. There’s also « no real outdoors space » and mealtime apparently leaves something to be desired unless you’re into « fattening food. »
« It’s just a place to warehouse human beings, » said lawyer Arthur Aidala, a « top New York City criminal defense attorney » who spoke to CNBC. So much for a small vacation at Club Fed.
Death threats sent him to a separate facility
MDC wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for 6ix9ine (unless that park happened to be a smelly indoor area teeming with violent criminals and alleged rival gang members). We’re guessing they don’t even have rainbow hair dye, which might actually be doing the dude some favors (but what do we know? Unicorn hair is apparently totally in style). Regardless, the Soundcloud rapper didn’t have to rough it in South Slope very long. According to TMZ, the star was moved to a different facility after his gang-related scuffle.
WABC reported that 6ix9ine was facing death threats while in general population for « federal racketeering and firearms charges. » Though his new location hasn’t been disclosed to the public, TMZ claims the « Billy » rapper asked to specifically be assigned away from any Crips and Bloods. He’s now in a « unit with ‘neutral inmates' » at a facility known for housing cooperating witnesses. It’s a strange move considering 6ix9ine’s attorney assured TMZ that his client wasn’t snitching, but it’s apparently more so for « security reasons. »
He released his record from jail
In November 2018, Tekashi 6ix9ine joined the almost-cliched ranks of T.I., Lil Wayne, and 2Pac, aka legendary rappers who released music from behind bars. The star followed the Gucci Mane playbook and dropped his record earlier than expected after it was postponed following his arrest. According to The New York Times, Dummy Boy was released on a Tuesday after it leaked online. This is an unusual choice considering the industry-wide global release day is Fridays, but Tekashi has been known to play by his own rules. Like Bhad Bhabie, who rose to fame after a particularly memorable Dr. Phil appearance, the Brooklyn native first became a viral Instagram star before pivoting to rap. He’s since landed a string of singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including a collaboration with Nicki Minaj.
To support the release of his new album, Tekashi seemingly tweeted from jail. More realistically, his team gave his account a nudge, but not the team that is currently incarcerated alongside him. Complex reported that he signed a deal with indie startup Create Music Group, but the album lost out on the Billboard 200’s No. 1 spot in favor of Travis Scott’s Astroworld. Like all things regarding 6ix9ine, even his chart position was filled with scandal as some reports alleged Nielsen’s numbers were off.
Though Tekashi 6ix9ine was moved to a different facility for his own safety, the rapper still had to worry about his mama, who was supposedly threatened by a man claiming to be El Chapo’s nephew. Fair warning: the story is just about as convoluted and weird as most of the controversy surrounding the rainbow-haired superstar.
According to a December 2018 Daily Beast report, Arizona music promoter Jose Avila is claiming to be 6ix9ine’s « new manager and agent, » but only after threatening him with just about every possible warning under the sun. Things got heated when 6ix9ine failed to show up to an Austin, Texas gig Avila was promoting. Of course, Avila did what all good concert promoters do when an artist is a no-show: He left the rapper’s security detail a 49-second voicemail threatening to have his mother deported and Tekashi thrown in jail. Avila then pivoted the threats to Tekashi’s booking agent, Tasea Ferguson, and claimed to be famed drug lord El Chapo’s nephew (for the record: El Chapo’s defense lawyer and law enforcement weren’t aware of a nephew by that name). Despite the outright threats, Avila has also supposedly claimed that he’s a member of Tekashi’s team, though a source told the Daily Beast « there’s nothing to manage » since Tekashi was in jail at the time.
He navigated a potentially costly lawsuit
Tekashi 6ix9ine wasn’t just dealing with El Chapo’s alleged nephew because of his string of no-shows. The rapper is facing a potential lawsuit after bailing on an October 2018 concert in Washington, D.C. and popping up for a surprise gig in New Jersey instead. According to TMZ, 6ix9ine was already paid $58,470 for his performance at the Echostage during Howard University’s Homecoming weekend. He reportedly cancelled « 35 minutes before doors opened, » leaving 400 angry people in line and leagues of fans who already purchased tickets likely cursing in their cars en route. To add insult to injury, the rapper popped up « a couple hundred miles away » at New Jersey’s Prudential Center for a surprise performance at Power 105.1’s Powerhouse. Yikes.
Hits Before Fame & DMV Events, who promoted his cancelled D.C. show, sent a legal letter to 6ix9ine’s team asking him to pay up for his deposit, the rental fee, the marketing expenses, and the lost ticket sales. This all seemed potentially problematic, since Tekashi fired pretty much his entire team and was trying to sort it all out from jail, but in June 2019, Complex reported that the lawsuit was dropped.
He kept his romance alive
Tekashi 6ix9ine made every effort to take care of his loved ones from behind bars. According to TMZ, the rapper gifted his girlfriend with a Rolex from the slammer — and as everyone knows, they’re anything but cheap. The lucky lady, Jade, reportedly celebrated her 22nd birthday in November 2018, the same month her beau was indicted for federal racketeering and firearms charges. Nonetheless, he surprised his inamorata with a $35,000 watch during her NYC birthday bash. The watch was reportedly customized with « 18k white and rose gold and 24 carats worth of VS diamonds. » The « Gummo » singer reportedly had the bling « hand-delivered to [her] by celebrity jeweler JimmyBoi. »
Jade flaunted her timepiece on Twitter: « Best birthday ever, » she wrote. « Thank you baby. Your [sic] the best even when your [sic] not around. » Jade is apparently so committed to her jailbird love that she adopted his hairstyle and got a « 69 » tattoo in his honor. (If this isn’t the start of some wild Lifetime movie, what is?) Jade debuted rainbow hair in an early-December Twitter post that read « no prenup we #1 stoopid [sic]. » In other news, Jade « can’t wait to taste » Tekashi’s skin and is living dangerously on 25 percent phone battery.
Tekashi doesn’t want no friends in home confinement
The novel coronavirus outbreak has impacted the whole world, but Tekashi 6ix9ine has found a small silver lining. The star, who was originally expected to be released from prison in the summer of 2020, was granted his freedom early. According to TMZ, the rapper had « preexisting conditions » that made him « potentially high-risk in a prison setting. » COVID-19 has become a growing problem in the prison system where inmates are in close quarters. The outbreak at New York’s Rikers Island complex alone has been described as a « public health disaster, » according to The Guardian.
Per TMZ’s report, Tekashi’s prosecutors didn’t object to the star’s « compassionate release » as long as he actually had « extraordinary and compelling reasons, » but there was some confusion with who was actually in charge of making that decision. The case was initially rejected by Judge Engelmayer, who claimed he didn’t have the jurisdiction and suggested Tekashi’s lawyers file with the Bureau of Prisons, but the BOP claimed Tekashi’s prison was privately owned. Eventually, it was kicked back to Engelmayer, who set Tekashi free under the condition that he’d serve out the rest of his sentence in home confinement, as if everyone isn’t already in home confinement at the moment.
Tekashi’s home incarceration will be supervised with a GPS tracker. If for some reason that doesn’t work, he’ll have to have daily video chats with his probation officer. He’s only allowed to leave for pre-approved visits with his attorney or for medical treatment.