6ix9ine Returns With New Song and Defiant Livestream: ‘I Ratted’
The song is classic 6ix9ine: spitfire verses filled with boasts about himself and taunts to his detractors. In the music video, the tattooed Brooklyn rapper — who had a meteoric rise presenting himself as a hardened criminal — appeared in candy-colored braids, surrounded by scantily clad dancers who were doused in paint as they twerked. A shrewd self-marketer, he immediately told his fans on Twitter how to buy the clothes he wore.
But the real performance was on Instagram Live.
Shortly after the song was released, 6ix9ine fired up his Instagram account for a livestreamed rant that lasted about 13 minutes and was seen by as many as two million people. 6ix9ine (also known as Tekashi69) has been watched closely by the rap world since he avoided a long sentence — he had faced as much as 37 years — by cooperating with prosecutors against his former gang mates in the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods.
Instead, the rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, was sentenced to just two years, and was released early after his lawyer argued that the rapper’s asthma made him vulnerable to coronavirus while in prison.
The lyrics to “Gooba” — which was released on the rapper’s 24th birthday — were mildly defiant. But in his live video he addressed with astonishing candor accusations that he was a “rat” for cooperating with authorities. He spoke of attempts on his life and theft of his money, and said that people had tried to kidnap his mother, answering barbs that he’d betrayed his loyalty to the gang by arguing they hadn’t been loyal to him.
“I snitched; I ratted,” he said. “But who was I supposed to be loyal to?”
The rapper stood in what seemed to be a small bedroom, with a ceiling fan and a neatly made bed visible behind him. At the start of the livestream, two women with pastel-colored hair danced next to him and helped him remove heavy jewelry. (He boasted of a diamond-encrusted shark pendant costing “half a million.”)
He added: “I want to say thank you to the judge for allowing me to come home to my family.”
But 6ix9ine came most alive in teasing other rappers, positioning his flip to become a cooperating witness as part of a comeback narrative.
“We can’t beef; there’s no beef — I’m the king, y’all know this,” he said, addressing his competition.
“You know why people so mad?” he added. “Because they thought it was over for me. They counted me out. ‘Oh, you ratted, it’s over for you.’ Y’all could never cooperate with the government and come back. Y’all could never do that. I’m a living legend at the age of 24.”
The location of 6ix9ine’s confinement is not public, and none was listed for the “Gooba” music video, though like several other pandemic-era music videos, it was clearly a professional production. Representatives of the federal Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a question on Friday about whether the making of the video — which featured as many as six dancers — had violated the terms of his confinement order. 6ix9ine had asked the judge for permission to shoot a video in his backyard.
There was never any serious doubt that, even in prison, Tekashi69 would continue his rap career. Late last year, shortly before he was sentenced, he signed a new recording deal worth a reported $10 million. His lawyer said he had no intention of entering witness protection. The bigger question was whether his cooperation with law enforcement would undermine his tough-guy persona.
In 6ix9ine’s view, it had not.
“I’m still the King of New York,” he tweeted shortly after the stream was over, with an image of the Instagram feed showing his number of viewers: “2M.”