6ix9ine: self-proclaimed king of New York faces reality.
We know him as the volatile unicorn. The color soup longhair, graff-face representing hip-hop today. Tekashi 6ix9ine – self-proclaimed king of New York with Billboard numbers to back up his bravado.
Pobre 6ix9ine. While Dummy Boy created massive tsunami streams and downloads in its first week of release, the 22-year-old blood marinated in a dorm reserved for police and pedophiles. He’s currently in New York City Federal Prison, located between Wall Street and Chinatown, in the oldest part of his hometown. And word is he is cooperating, in other words snitching, on his associates. It’s survival of the fittest over the code of the streets. If he doesn’t do a lifetime of prison he will be relocated into some kind of witness protection. That does not sound like a situation Tekashi would enjoy, given his skillful rendering of public fascination.
He’s the first Latinx to win the hearts and minds of America’s hip hop street culture on his own terms, solo.
Tekashi 6ix9ine is in the business of making bangers. Brash party anthems, top of his lungs, running on stage throwing water on the audience. Pearly whitest grin out there, in a constant stream of Instagram vids. We obviously missed Lil Jon and needed the IG version that Daniel Hernandez delivers with a smile. He’s the first Latinx to win the hearts and minds of America’s hip hop street culture on his own terms, solo. During a radio interview with Angie Martinez, he opened up about losing his father to gun violence and growing up in extreme poverty. We watched him meet family in Mexico for the first time in a heartwarming video on his Insta page. He’s the first artist to leverage social media to star status in the span of a year. 6ix9ine took gangbanging on a wild spree through the music industry, balling in a read bandana SUV on his official video. And what gave him fame looks to now be striking him down.
This year 6ix9ine became a millionaire but he stayed true to his image with trouble following his every move.
Troubles follow wherever I go…
A drive-by in Beverly Hills engulfed the set of his video shoot with guests Nicki Minaj and Kanye West. “You got the right one. Let these dick pic bitches know, nigga,” was Nicki Minaj’s opening lyrics on their duet FEFE, advising the “king” to continue his braggadocio. The same verse reminded listeners she “doesn’t fuck with chitchat.” “I don’t really want no friends,” was the hook. Both New York rappers use their podium for verbal sparring and cocky proclamations over a cold, punctuating, beat. They didn’t create the circus but on their duet they claim it as their own over cones of Mr. Softee and repeated oral sex vulgarities. Headlines follow their steady conflicts; riding hate is a profession.
But Tekashi 6ix9ine has a different side when you strip away the English-language money-brutality stance. In Spanish interviews and on his reggaeton track BEBE with Annuel, Daniel Hernandez es un amor, the video shows him as a flirty figure at the beach proclaiming his conquests and then playing like a kid at a pool party. In public, he’s a loving figure dispensing hope, charity and kind words. His sweet smile and playful response to ridicule wins amasses fans worldwide. He didn’t create the lowest-common-denominator jungle he was born into. But he sure found a way to showcase the crazy and turn it into success. Fans who happen upon him at the barbershop receive hundred-dollar-bills as souvenirs. A little girl fighting cancer gets a shopping trip with her idol. A visit to his hometown in Mexico is a charity excursion where money is passed out freely. Interviews show the rapper’s robin-hood side, concerned with family and community. So which is the real 6ix9ine?
He’s both. As a product of a crass, hate-filled, trash-ridden environment that values money above humanity, 6ix9ine rides the waves of jaded, hardened youth and brings along his crew, hollering “treyway.” In rural spaces where he travels, he is relaxed, respectful and accommodating to locals. In homes or with friends in the car he is playful, caring and warm. As he explained it on Instagram, “I never lost sense of where I came from. That’s what makes me 69. The true meaning of 69 is just because you’re right doesn’t mean I’m wrong YOU JUST HAVENT SEEN LIFE FROM MY PERSPECTIVE. Turn the 6 upside down it’s 9 but remains the same in a different perspective. Open your mind and heart.”
On stage he’s a monster force of energy and power boosting massive crowds to new heights. Whether he’s performing in Slovakia where he first made a splash or back in NYC on a homecoming tour de force, 6ixNine delivers what the crowd wants.
The crowd isn’t the bastion of class, especially in the worldwide comments section. And right now, across languages and geography, the incarcerated unicorn is their king (still).
Words by @hitsauce
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