CULTURE

Tekashi 6ix9ine's Made Snitching Cool

The bastard got away with it...for now

Exactly one year ago, 22-year-old Daniel Hernandez was known to the masses as a gruff, Bushwick-based rapper with rainbow-colored hair.

As Tekashi 6ix9ine, Hernandez's brash antics always spoke louder than his music, and, as a result, he became the perfect pop culture patsy. The more attention he got, the more attention he sought. By the end of his breakout rise in 2017, Tekashi 6ix9ine had already faked his own death. By the end of 2018, he was on trial for federal racketeering charges, among a slew of other crimes, and he faced a minimum of 32 years in prison.

The fall of 6ix9ine was imminent, and after Hernandez spilled his guts on the witness stand, exposing the wrongdoings of the Nine Trey Bloods, it seemed he had sealed his fate. In the case of two of his convictions, 6ix9ine's music played in court as confessional testimony, to which Hernandez agreed that his lifestyle was no different than the antics described in his music. The trial garnered an insane amount of media attention and in the process set an ugly precedent for the way rappers are charged. "6ix9ine worked with the authorities to argue that...his art reflects reality," wrote Pitchfork. "He is essentially the biggest rapper ever to say there is no difference between his life and his art, the argument so often and so dangerously lobbed at musicians with far less resources to defend themselves." Hernandez sang like a canary with perfect pitch, and his career was seemingly ending the same way it began: in the form of a meme.

Tekashi 6ix9ine Appears to Order Hit on Chief Keef's Cousin in Shocking New Video | TMZ www.youtube.com

But here we are, 13 months later, on the day of his sentencing, and media outlets speculated all week long how the saga of 6ix9ine would end. Word spread like wildfire (mostly by 6ix9ine and his defense team), that the rapper might walk away today with time served, to which the internet was divided. The judge did not go that route and instead sentenced Hernandez to 2 years in federal prison, plus five years of supervised probation. It seems to be a fitting end to the reign of 6ix9ine, with Daniel Hernandez emerging from his fame-induced coma to issue what appeared to be an honest apology for misrepresenting himself. "I was blessed with the gift of an opportunity that most people dream of but squandered it by getting involved with the wrong people," he told the court today. "I should have been true to myself and my fans."

But 6ix9ine's career is far from over. While behind bars, the rapper inked a $10 million record deal. Complex, Rolling Stone, and Showtime are all crafting various docu-series on 6ix9ine's life. With all this commotion, it's easy for people to forget that the crimes charged came at the expense of real victims. Prior to the sentencing, a handful of victims penned impact statements to Judge Paul Engelmayer and pleaded that Hernandez serves the maximum sentence. "[He] destroyed the normal adulthood that I was striving for," wrote one victim. Did the victims get the justice they deserved, or were their traumatic experiences ultimately undermined?

Either way, 6ix9ine still remains a hurricane, consuming media attention and money despite the very real destruction his actions have caused. As the public awaits the fate of another sour-puss pop culture autocrat, the trial of 6ix9ine in its entirety serves as a fair indicator for how justice is upheld against celebrities. They don't entirely get away with it, but they still kind of do.

Music Lists

Happy Birthday, Elliott Smith: The Indie Rock Legend's 10 Best Songs

The singer-songwriter would have been 51 today.

JJ Gonson

Today, August 6, 2020, Elliott Smith would have turned 51 years old.

Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska, raised in north Texas, and spent a good portion of his life in Portland, Oregon before settling in Los Angeles. Before his sudden and mysterious death in 2003, the prolific singer-songwriter released five studio albums of poignant, rootsy indie rock, with his sixth studio album and a compilation of rarities being released posthumously. He became known for his dismal lyrics—often referencing his mental health and substance abuse habits—and his distinctively whispery vocals, which he often double-tracked to create an eerie, textured ambiance.

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MUSIC

Pre Kai Ro Is Ready to Take Over the World

The singer sat down with Popdust to talk about his new single, his relentless work ethic, and his plans for world domination

Born in Oman to Egyptian parents, Pre Kai Ro's complex music sensibilities can partially be attributed to his international upbringing.

pre kai ro - "el camino" prod. by olsem (Official Video) | kashkam www.youtube.com

During his childhood, he lived in Oman, Egypt, Ireland, UK, and Dubai, and was exposed to vastly different music as a result. "My environment was always split in the sense that inside the house, I was being exposed to purely African and Middle Eastern music," said the budding R&B singer. "[But] I was simultaneously becoming obsessed with Hip-Hop, R&B and Rock." Pre Kai Ro's production has always been dark and 808 heavy, but his voice is light and inviting, bouncing along effortlessly as he frankly discusses heartbreak, and his relentless grind for stardom. Popdust caught up with the singer to discuss his new single, "Baby Boy," and his plans for the future.

How did you find your sound?

When I was 10 I won a school talent show while living in Dublin after performing a rendition of "21 Questions" by 50 Cent. My mother was impressed but horrified. From then on, it was kind of a constant development of my sound and identity in music. It wasn't until 2016 while attending university in Nottingham, England when I [got serious]. I had spent years posting acoustic covers online, and already developed my sound [as a result.]

Did anyone, in particular, inspire you to get into music?

My biggest inspirations to this day are (in no specific order) Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, The Weeknd, and Future. I want to emulate their work and pay homage.

You've released a good deal of projects and have been grinding steady for a while now. What have you noticed change about your sound and creative process over the years?

For my first project, Mood with Olsem - an incredibly talented French man I consider my brother - we were at a point where the process was just extremely quick. He would send me a beat he just made and I would record in my room, usually with the first melodic and lyrical idea that came to mind. Tracks like "Queen of The New World" and "Need Me" would be finished in less than an hour. Our latest project, Vibe, was actually produced, written, recorded, mixed and mastered within 48 hours. Now that I'm focusing more on singles, the formula stays the same, but I'm trying to revisit certain songs to get them as "perfect" as they can be.

Was the process similar for "Baby Boy?"

I remember producer [Don Fuego] said he hadn't met an artist who could work as quickly as I did, so he gave me a challenge where he would nap for 30 minutes and expect a full ballad to be written by the time he woke up. I wrote about the turbulent artist life I'm living and how it seems to affect every form of relationship I have. "Baby Boy" is actually based on a culmination of messages I'd received from significant others about my absence as I continued to focus more on my career. Long story short, [everyone] felt "Baby Boy" had a certain magic about it.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? Tour? What can we expect from "King?"

My plans are to drop a single per month for the foreseeable future. I'm refusing to be limited by [everyone else's] expectations of me. I want to continue releasing the music that makes me and those around me feel something. If it doesn't move me, I refuse to let it move anybody else. I'm aiming for global domination, and that type of thing requires patience and careful planning.

Baby Boy