69: The Saga of Danny Hernandez (2020) - full transcript

Part investigative documentary, part real-life gangster movie, '69: The Saga of Danny Hernandez' unpacks the life of polarizing rap sensation and internet troll Tekashi69.

[siren wailing]

[train passing]

So, you know Tekashi 6ix9ine?

‐ I move in this building.

But I know Daniel and Oscar Hernandez.
They are brother‐‐

MAN: The 6ix9ine bullshit?
MIGUEL: No, I just...

MAN: What are you doing, bro?

MAN: I'm gonna come back.
This shit better not be there.

WOMAN: Steven.
‐ What?

‐ Yeah, he is.

STEVEN: I'm gonna tell Oscar.

WOMAN: We've known Danny
since he was a baby.
STEVEN: You don't live here, nigga.

WOMAN: Okay?

STEVEN: This nigga didn't even
know him like that.

Everybody's gonna tell you
what you wanna hear.

‐ Bullshit.
MIGUEL: Nothing bad‐‐

What are you doing, my nigga?

VIKRAM: I'm not trying to start a problem,
I'm just asking questions. Okay.

Okay, all right, goodbye. Goodbye.

Let me get the fuck outta here.

I'm obsessed with understanding
the truth about people.

The difference between the personas
we show the world

and our real identities underneath.

That's how I got drawn in
to the story of Tekashi 6ix9ine.

MAN 1: 6ix9ine.
MAN 2: 6ix9ine.

MC 1:
We got Tekashi 6ix9ine in this bitch.

MC 2:
Tekashi 6ix9ine.

MC 3: I've got one of the hottest rappers
in New York City.

Pretty notorious 22‐year‐old troll.

MAN 3:
Yo, Tekashi's my guy. He's a top troll.

‐ I love 6ix9ine.

Multiple platinum records. Number one.

But why would you try and compete
with a platinum recording artist?


MAN 4:
Got the whole Internet in a frenzy.

MAN 7:
6ix9ine is a fucking genius.

MAN 8:
Master marketer.

VIKRAM: The rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine
is the king of clout, or Internet fame.

He gained a cult following of millions
all over the world

hanging on his every word.

‐ Fuck Chief Keef...

VIKRAM: He went from relative obscurity
to the heights of Internet fame,

through outrageous rainbow hair,
facial tattoos,

and flaunting affiliation
with a New York street gang.

He started beef with rappers
across the country

and celebrated violent acts against them
on his Instagram account.

Tekashi 6ix9ine created a digital persona
that no one could ignore

and through it became one of the most
famous people in the world.

Is he for real, though,
or just a master manipulator?

When I realized he lived near me
in Brooklyn,

I messaged his manager Shotti
about making a documentary.

‐ It's fucking Treyway!

But I never heard back.

Only weeks later, Tekashi 6ix9ine
was arrested on racketeering charges,

facing 47 years to life in federal prison.

After his arrest, he immediately
snitched against his own crew,

members of the Nine Trey Bloods gang,

taking the stand in one of the most
public trials in the history of music.

Mr. Hernandez, how old are you?


Mr. Hernandez, where were you born?

Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Do you go by any other names?

LAWYER: What are those names?

‐ Tekashi, Tekashi 6ix9ine.

♪ hip‐hop beat playing ♪

VIKRAM: We live in a world
dominated by cults of personality

who use the Internet to gain
fame and fortune.

But who are these people that are
trying to grab our attention?

I wanted to understand
who this kid really was

under the tattoos
and behind the gangster persona.

So I took to the streets of Brooklyn

to follow in the footsteps
of a kid named Daniel Hernandez.

♪ drums and cymbals playing ♪

♪ Uh, uh, okay ♪

♪ rapping ♪

♪ rapping continues ♪

Bushwick right now, it's changing.

Like I'm walking on blocks
that's totally renovated

and those buildings
used to be crack spots

and now like they're duplexes and shit.

Like it's... it's crazy.

I'd say five years ago,
less money, more poverty.

Less jobs.

And now it look like
the neighborhood is booming.

More bars, more clubs, more apartments.

Artists everywhere.

Studios is popping up
in every block now.

It wasn't like that before.

We used to have to go
all the way to the city.

Like this is really like
an extension of the city now.

I would say 2011, I met Danny
on Myrtle and Broadway on his block

in Bushwick.

Tough block.

Danny was a cool kid.

He was a youngin, you know.
He just needed guidance.

He needed direction.

He wasn't like a delinquent or nothing.
He wasn't no jailbird.

He was a cool young Hispanic kid

from the ghettos of Bushwick, Brooklyn.

VIKRAM: Was poverty
a huge driving force for him?

SHADOW: For all of us.

That's why he goes so hard
'cause nobody wanna be hungry again.

Nobody want they daughter starving.
Nobody want they mom starving.

Yeah, he's from it.
He's definitely from it.

Bushwick, borderline Bed‐Stuy.

Right on Myrtle Avenue.

Right on Locust.

That's my hood.

I feel like,
when people meet famous people,

they can't make that connection
that we are you guys,

but before all of this,
we come from some place, right?

This is where I came from
before all of this fame.

I have two family members, like, ever.

My mama came here from Mexico by herself.

She had my brother in '94.

Had me in '96.

My biological dad left.

Us three trooped it out.

SARA MOLINA: My upbringing
was totally different compared to his.

As a child, like, we didn't live rich,
but we weren't poor,

and I never had to like want
or need for anything growing up.

It made me kind of feel pity for him.

Just a fucking regular kid in Brooklyn.

This was actually my home,
where me and my mom,

my brother and his girlfriend,

my girlfriend, my daughter lived.

I actually slept on this bed
with my mom, um...

till a fucking late‐ass age.

This was the first computer I bought
to learn how to edit videos myself.

Like this was, like,
I spent my last couple of dollars

buying this shit.

Railroad apartment...

I hated living there the first few months.

I hated it so much.

It was nothing like what I was used to.

His mom was a really bad hoarder, so...

wherever there was a little bit of space,
it wasn't there for long.

Made me wanna pull my hair out.

We had some mutual friends.

I went to high school
with some people that he knew

and he was friends with,

so he saw that and he ended up
reaching out to me through Facebook.

And from that day,

we spoke every day after that.

Is he your first boyfriend?

‐ Yeah.

I was in love, I was young.

I thought he was so funny.

I thought he was so charismatic.

Even now, as much as people‐‐
he gets under people's skin,

there's still something that all people
take to him that they like.

LAWYER: Did you work?

What did you do?

DANIEL: I started working at the...
I wanna say the age of 13.

I got a job at a grocery store
named Stay Fresh Grill,

where I worked as the delivery boy.

I worked up to register.

Shortly after that, became a rapper.

‐ I moved to New York in 2011,

from Chicago.

And I landed in Locust Street.

And I was really into street art
and graffiti at that time.

I think I was the only

"nonoriginal resident"
on the, on the, the block.

And, you know,
taking the train into the city,

getting my coffee in the morning,

getting my drunk eats at night.

Always at the same
24‐hours bodega, Stay Fresh.

And Danny was there
behind the counter.

You know, there's a weird thing
about bodegas

and at certain ones.

Like, the counter's always raised a bit,

so you're kind of holding court
over the entire store,

or convenience mart, you know.

So that's what he did, you know?

You walked in and he'd be
yelling at this person,

smiling and talking, you know.

Recognize you, "What's up, Adam?"

It's just this little bizarre
environment of energy.

At that time, it was the meeting place.

And you have all these different
types of people coming in.

Dumb white kid from the farmland.

You know, rappers, artists.

And Danny probably was very spongelike,
you know, absorbing all this.

[siren wailing]

♪ Shadow the Great rapping ♪

So, Loaf Muzik started around 2009.

It was a collective.

We had break‐dancers, graffiti writers,
producers, DJs, and MCs.

It started with the MCs
and then it became a home

for other young kids
in Brooklyn, Bushwick, to create.

Loaf was a opportunity
for him to express himself

and escape the realities of what
he was going through on his side,

'cause I know his father died.

Like for all of us, I felt like Loaf
was the father figure.

And Danny, it was his home
and he fit into that.

Before that,
he knew nothing about music.

He never performed a day in his life.

Never went to a party,
never went to a show.

We introduced him
to our own collective

and gave him a home
where he can be himself and create.

And that's when he started
creating clothing.

DANIEL: I felt, walking into school,
I was just like invisible.

I was never fly, like...

I was always clean, but I was just,
I didn't have nothing new like.

And that always stuck with me.

So I just had to make a loud presence.

He stood out on the block, for one,

'cause of the clothes he would wear.

I mean, he'd show up
in the most outrageous shit,

and his clothing line,
with 69 or HIV, like,

just some really shock value.

And it's just 'cause he just wanted eyes
on it, and like, "There you go.

I knew that was a good idea.
I know how the Internet works."

SHADOW: His first shock value
was the clothing.

He would write the crazy shit
on the clothes

and get people's attention.

‐ I got the perfect shirt, bro.

‐ Which one?
‐ Look, hold this.

‐ "Pussy."


"Pussy eater."

‐ [Danny laughing]

I'm such a nigga, bro.

SARA: You get used to someone
pointing at his shirt and laughing,

and stopping to, "Yo, can I take
a picture with you and your shirt?"

Then I'm the one that's like
awkwardly taking the picture.

"Can you take the picture?"

He loved the attention.

VIKRAM: These are some of the earliest
traces of Danny on social media.

Images of him dressed in his loud clothes
were being shared on Reddit.

The comments section was full of people
both praising him and trolling him.

This was his first taste of clout.

SHADOW: He was part of the video
production and the clothing,

when it came to us hanging out,
so he would come along with the videos.

The first video I shot that he was in
was a video on YouTube called "Illa."

And you see him in the background.

♪ Yo, I'm in it for the skrilla ♪

♪ rapping continues ♪

SHADOW: That was the first video
he actually was in on camera.

And then we did a couple more.
We did one called "Canser."

♪ rapping ♪

He was printing up his own T‐shirts,
his own pants, his own hats.

And I kept telling him, like,
"Yo, you should really start selling that,

"'cause when people see all
of this crazy shit on your clothes,

they gonna wanna buy it."

♪ rapping ♪

But he had his own plans already.

He was like, "Nah, like,
I'm gonna do what y'all doin'."

He was looking at the stage
and the love from the crowd.

And he's like, "Yo, I want that."

Gangs have always played a very big part

in all of our lives out here.

And whether you're in
or not in a gang in this neighborhood,

you're affected by it.

Because you have sisters,
you have brothers,

you have uncles, you have fathers.

People that you love
that grew up in that life.

VIKRAM: Were you ever part
of a gang at any point?

‐ If I was part of a gang?


I grew up in this neighborhood,
let's say that.

DANIEL: I was surrounded by Bloods,
Crips, Latin Kings.

Gangs has been all of my life.

SARA: His stepfather was like
a major highlight of his life.

VIKRAM: Do you know anything
about the murder or anything?

SARA: I know he had told me that
his stepfather was gang‐affiliated.

He was asked, I guess, to go
to the store, the supermarket,

with his stepfather, and his stepfather...

And he told him that he didn't wanna go,
so, a little while after that,

they came knocking
on Danny's mom's door

and on Danny's door saying that
their stepfather is two blocks away,

you know, on the ground, bleeding.

[siren wailing]

VIKRAM: As a teenager,
Danny would walk past the location

of his stepfather's murder
every single day

on his way to work at the bodega.

DANIEL: Like I tell ya,
I hate myself for that shit.

I was 13, I weighed like 150.

I dropped to like 90, 80 pounds.

I didn't shower in like two months.

VIKRAM: How do you think
this all affected Danny?

‐ I think it just makes him feel
like he can't get close to anybody now.

I feel like he feels like
he don't deserve anything good.

DANIEL: I felt like my pops
was a superhero.

I felt like my pops was invincible.

So when they took my pops from me,
that made me rebel.

You know what I'm sayin'?
That made me angry.

I don't wanna be a superhero.
I'm a villain.

Fuck being a superhero.

LAWYER: You started
a music career, is that right?

At the store I was working in,

Stay Fresh Grill, there was a guy
out there named Peter Rogers.

He asked me if I made music
and if I rapped.

And we started making music
from the deli.

VIKRAM: Together
with Peter and Peter's brother ZillaKami,

the collective "Scum Gang" was born.

DANIEL: "Scum" stands for
"Society can't understand me."

And that's where Scum Gang
comes into play.

I stand out for the kids that
can't stand out for themselves.

And I'm making it cool to be a bum.
I'm making it cool to be poor.

VIKRAM: Peter's roommate,
a Japanese tattoo artist named Takashi,

would inspire Danny's new persona...

Tekashi 69.

It began with him playing

Nirvana "Come As You Are,"

and he was getting head in the video.

I was like, "Okay,
this is fucking different.

This is out there."

And then the song was catchy.

His image was like fucking, like electric.

♪ Callin' me, textin' me ♪

♪ Blowin' up my fuckin' phone ♪

♪ I ain't even fucked that bit ♪

♪ All I did was... ♪

SARA: I saw the video,
I was insecure, and I was just like,

it's the first time I ever seen him
like really playing to the character now.

This is Tekashi 6ix9ine.

The video had his outlandish style.

It had Lamborghinis.

A 17‐year‐old renting out Lamborghinis
for a video, that's cool as fuck.

ADAM: And I see like three to five to six,
you know, very nice, flashy Lamborghinis,

I'm like, "Okay, man,
he's not full of bullshit."

He's making moves at 15, 16, 17.

I was playing Nintendo 64 when I was 16
in my underwear on a Friday night.

One time we had a photo shoot.

Him and Chad played
a record called "Pimpin',"

And he's like, "Yeah, this is me,"
and I'm like, "Get the fuck out of here.
This is you?"

♪ Tekashi69 rapping ♪

He asked me to shoot the video.

I went to his house.

They just had a whole bunch
of props and shit,

like a whole bunch of like keys
of cocaine props bagged up.

And I'm just like, "Yo, what the fuck
am I shooting right now?"

I was all for it.
I'm like, "Yo, fuck it, okay. Fuck it."

Like, at least he not killing people

and at least he's not, uh,
on the streets or whatever like.

He's trying to create this crazy
shock‐value content,

so people can look at it and be like,
"Oh, what the fuck is this?"

These early videos were getting retweets

and finding a small fan base.

He started getting noticed
by hip‐hop blogs.

But the Internet is crowded
and a difficult place to stand out.

DANIEL: One day I woke up and I said,
"Yo, I'm a loud person on the mike,

and when I walk in a room,
I already have a loud presence."

And I say,
"Yo, I want my look to be loud."

DAVID: He first came into my shop
to ask for a 6ix9ine tattoo.

It's always been policy here
that anybody coming of that age

cannot get a tattoo on their hand
or on their face

that would affect their future.

He simply said,

"I am going to do this.
You don't understand.

"I am going to be a rapper.

No matter which way you look at it,
I am 6ix9ine."

It's a never‐ending cycle of generation
after generation after generation

after generation
of going through this poverty

and going through this crap
and having to endure all this shit.

So that's what was in his mind.

He was determined
to break that poverty cycle.

No matter what, we're not
gonna be fuckin' poor no more.

VIKRAM: Do you remember
when he first got his hair dyed?

Were you with him?

Yeah, I'm the one that found the salon.

Where we're from,
not many of the salons around the way

do those type of colors, so I'm just...

I was like,
"We'll have to go to Williamsburg."

And I called, I made the appointment,
and we walked in there,

and they was like,
"So, what are you getting done?"

And I was like,
"Oh, it's not for me, it's for him."

This is just from, you know, a while ago.

He let me do a little
cool promotion for my shop...

uh, so that if people wanted to get
their hair colored where he does,

they would win a chance to meet him.

The first time,
he wanted like a light mint green

to a fade of light purple.

I just thought, like, "Who's this kid?

You know, it's great. Let's do it."

VIKRAM: What did he say to you
his reason was?

REBECCA: He said he was a rapper
and that he was gonna be

a really famous rapper one day,
and, you know, I teased him

because he had the little 69s,
and I was like,

"Well, you gotta
do something with it

'cause it'll be hard for you
to find a normal job."

He needed his look, you know,
to be different.

I feel like, since Danny
did his hair rainbow,

the whole world, the whole like Internet,
became a craze of rainbow.

VIKRAM: So you're saying like you've
actually seen an effect because of him?

He's such a...
‐ Oh, 100%.

Everybody was following
in his footsteps, I think. [laughs]


He's a trendsetter.

VIKRAM: One of the ways
to get noticed in hip‐hop

is to be co‐signed
by other more successful artists.

It gives you street cred
and potential for gaining clout

through other people's
social media presence.

‐ Let me hear that verse.
You got it? Right?

♪ I know this ain't something
you ain't used to ♪

♪ The way I eat that pussy
she go cuckoo ♪

♪ Netflix ain't been hittin'
switch to Hulu ♪

♪ Want some new‐new... ♪

VIKRAM: When you worked with 6ix9ine,
he must have been like...

BODEGA BAMZ: 17 years old.
6ix9ine came to Spanish Harlem.

I was going to a bar called the Duck,
right here down the block.

He couldn't get in 'cause he was 17.
Young kid, you know what I'm saying?

And this kid is Puerto Rican and Mexican.

That's why he want to fuck with me
'cause I'm the marquee Latino in New York.

Know what I'm sayin'?

Like so I was one of those names
that he needed to get over.

And once he did that,
you know what I'm sayin',

that was good for his résumé.
"Oh, you with this dude.

"Oh, you with Bodega Bamz.
That's what's up.

Let me check this kid out."

VIKRAM: Are people using each other?
Is he using you or using...?

‐ Yeah, yeah.

This is a use‐use game.

If you don't wanna get used,
get the fuck out.

What I saw from him from the gate was
he would do whatever to be famous.

To the point where that's why I didn't
wanna do a record with him,

'cause I thought that was dangerous.

And I ain't like his message,
because when I first met him,

he had shirts that said "HIV, AIDS,"
you know, that weirdo shit.

That's his whole thing,
shock value, shock value.

This is before he had any face tattoos.

Case in point why he colored his hair.
The shock value, he was into that.

The shit he was doin' was mad weird,
but his talent was...

you had to respect it as a creator.

VIKRAM: Tell me about the song
and the music video, like what's in it,

like, the shock value...?

‐ The song, the song, the song.
The shock value was hood.

You gotta watch the video, but...
the song was called, um, "Shinigami."

Um... I don't know
what the fuck that means.

JORDAN: I'll play "Shinigami"
'cause that's my favorite.

We did this one way back.

♪ rapping ♪

He directed the whole video.

Like he literally came up
with the treatment.

He had like a mob in the scene
on the train station.

He has a kid eatin' a chicken bone.

That kid looks so devilish.

And I'm like, that's scary.

So he invoked that,
you know what I'm sayin'?

Like he invoked those kind of scenes.

There was a kid just chewing
on the fuckin' chicken bone.

There's another scene where he's
hanging out the window

like Heath Ledger in
"Batman: Dark Knight."

There's another scene where he got a dude
shooting up dope in the video.

The dude got the fucking needle
hanging off his arm.

First of all, that video caught a wave,
like it went viral, right,

to my surprise, 'cause I ain't think
it was gonna do that well as he did.

'Cause he's a new artist.

BODEGA: But people fucked with it,
they gravitated towards it.

I've been going viral forever.

I'm the king of getting
my Instagram deleted.

What is this,
like my fifth Instagram?

JORDAN: 6ix9ine was visual,
he was meant to be seen.

Like, y'all don't understand,
he went viral viral.

Like he had like a Vine that was
getting millions of views.

Snoop Dogg, Odd Future.

A whole bunch of other guys,
they put him up

on like their Twitters
and Instagrams at the time.

He pedigreed a chick on a bed.

Someone took it from his Instagram
and put it on Vine.

Back when Vine
was still like the hottest shit.

I was always at it going viral.

Always naked girls, me pedigreeing girls,

you know what I'm sayin',
me catching head.

I don't know who the girls are.

I felt embarrassed a little bit.

I was like, oh, my God,
people know who he is.

People know, who know me,
know who he is to me

and who I am to him.

VIKRAM: What do you think
he was getting out of it?

'Cause it obviously turned into
like an addiction.

SARA: Yeah, the attention.

"This video did so good,
I have to do another video,

and it's gonna get more views
and it's gonna get reposted more times."

VIKRAM: It sound like
the transforming into 6ix9ine

is the addiction to attention.
SARA: Yeah.

The more he became 6ix9ine,
the more attention he...

he got, so he became obsessive with it.


Shock and awe is nothing new.

Ozzy Osbourne bit off a bat's head,

Marilyn Manson worshipped the devil
and exposed himself on stage,

and 2 Live Crew's videos verged on porn.

Danny combined sex, crime,
drug use, expensive cars,

and all the images
that teenagers are addicted to,

to build his 6ix9ine persona
and break through on the Internet.

But one night,
his antics crossed the line.

‐ I don't want no kids to be in my shoes.

Yo, I was literally
just trying to figure out

how can I make it in this rap game?

That night, I was literally
shooting a music video

in a fuckin' traphouse in Harlem.

I'm from Brooklyn. I never go to Harlem.

You know what I'm sayin'?

It's just some guys I met randomly.

VIKRAM: That night during the shoot,
a girl was invited up.

Some of the men there had sex
with her, and it was filmed.

Danny shared these videos on social media.

She was only 13 years old.

It made me feel disgusted.

You know, even if you thought
she was older,

in what way does it feel okay
to violate a woman like that?

Let alone to come to find out
it was a younger girl.

So it's just like, he got locked up.

I'm hearing what he's
getting locked up from.

I'm pregnant, nobody knows.

I'm stressed.

She was 13.

No, she was 13...

Yeah, I think she was 13.
WOMAN: And you were?

‐ And I was 17.

I turned 18 that, that, that, um...

Remember, I went to jail March 3rd
and lasted all the way to May.

I turned 18 that‐‐ that year.

Danny was actually 18 years old.

He pled guilty on one charge
and signed a plea deal.

He was out and free in a couple months

and would be on probation
for the next two years.

‐ We do not condone any violence
being done to women and children.

We do not take part in that.

We do not respect that.

That's not what Scum Gang 69 is about.

BODEGA: When he got locked up,
he went to Rikers Island.

But we were still in communication.

So when he got released from the jail,

his hair was off now
'cause he had to cut his hair.

And he started up again.

♪ rapping ♪

Back on the streets,

Danny could no longer post
sexually explicit content.

His new videos began
to depict him as a front man

of gangs of angry young men
in the streets of Bushwick.

He rapidly released videos
with ZillaKami

that were equal parts hard‐core and rap,
like "Yokai" and "Hellsing Station."

His daughter Saraiyah was born
as the group was gaining traction online.

But internally,
Scum Gang was starting to fall apart.

Rumor is that P and Zilla had paid
$100,000 for Danny's bail

and that he'd never repaid them.

They started beefing on social media.

‐ This nigga goes to jail
for a rape charge of a minor.

‐ Zilla, you not Scum Gang.
None of y'all niggas Scum Gang!

Nigga, I'm Scum Gang, nigga!
Niggas know me...

SHADOW: From my knowledge,
Scum Gang is one person.

Scum Gang is Danny.

VIKRAM: That's funny that the gang
in his mind was actually just him.


That's pretty dope, man.

'Cause it turned into like
he actually created a gang‐‐

That's what, you know...
‐ This is crazy.

Like, you're dead
interviewing me right now,

with like a thousand dollars'
worth of equipment

and like about something
that really didn't even exist.

Like it's just hilarious right now.

But he would be laughing
if he saw this shit.

VIKRAM: In late 2016,
ZillaKami and Righteous P

deleted all of the music videos
they'd created with Danny.

He was left with no record
of his achievements.

WIZARD LEE: I always consider him
like an angel and a demon.

The closest I can think of
that was 6ix9ine was maybe Axl Rose.

He was just this big ball of energy

trying to work at his own pace,

which is ten times crazier
than, uh, anybody else.

Most of the 69 tracks we've recorded,
mixed and mastered down here,

I remember a point early on, uh...

where I was like, "All right, Danny,
you know, I recorded it.

I mixed it here, but don't you want
to get it to a professional to master?"

And he's like,
"Why? I like the way you do it."

So I was like, "All right,
I guess I'm mastering your stuff, too."

It's almost like Danny had
confidence for the two of us.

This is, uh, F*ck Them.

This is that Slovakian company
that Danny took off with too.

VIKRAM: Slovakia?

Did you go on any tours?


To Bratislava... Slovakia.

VIKRAM: Turns out that even before 6ix9ine
became famous in America,

he gained a fan base in the eastern
European country of Slovakia.

And this is also the place
he performed his first concert.

[rapping in Slovak]

‐ ♪ Niggas talkin' shit... ♪

♪ rapping continues ♪

VIKRAM: In his YouTube analytics,
Danny noticed an uptick in eastern Europe

and he traced it back
to the account of Dalyb.

And that's how he met Yaksha,
a former professional Muay Thai fighter

turned record label executive
that "New York" magazine once called

"the Puff Daddy of Bratislava."

[indistinct chatter]

DANIEL: These people,
I feel like they're my family.

I feel like Slovakia is home.

Everyone knows F*ck Them, the label.
Everyone knows Yaksha.

Everyone knows them, and I will carry
F*ck Them on my back to America

so they can get noticed.

VIKRAM: How do you feel like
you affected Tekashi's career?

[crowd chanting "Tekashi!"]

That will break the Internet.

That will go, it will fuckin'
shut down the Internet.

VIKRAM: While the F*ck Them family
was helping Danny find traction in Europe,

a new wave of rap artists
that looked and sounded like him

were developing elsewhere on the Internet.

SoundCloud combined a streaming
music service with social media.

Highly visual and data driven,

its founders originally
designed the platform

for electronic music DJs to share music.

What are these things on the couches?

These are all just like... comments?
MAN: Oh, these are all

real comments from the platforms.

VIKRAM: What is it here?

What's that?

‐ "SSSlay Kween, SSSSlayyyyyyy."

I think. [chuckles]

What is SoundCloud rap?

‐ I think like the origination of the term
is kind of a derogatory term

in the beginning, right?

Like it was,
"Oh, no, he's a SoundCloud rapper."

It's not a real rapper, right?

Like it's someone who's just, you know,
making music in the bedroom kind of thing.

And then all of the sudden,
some of these artists became huge.

And there was something similar
to their music.

It was, it was kind of
a punk element to it,

and a raw element

and a kind of super‐nihilistic, you know,

young people sort of disillusionized,
doing drugs, sex.

You know, people with tattoos
all over their face.

Like all kinds of weird stuff. Crime.

There was a time when, literally, like,

we had the most popular artist
on SoundCloud,

and then next week he was dead,
you know, from an overdose or something.

And then, you know, we have
the most popular artist on SoundCloud,

and the next week he was killed.

It felt like every week
there was some huge scandal

around one of these artists.

If you're doing A&R today,
you would look at data.

Like before it used to be
a lot of, "I like this artist.

I think she or he's good."

Now it's like, "Show me your numbers."

Because everything is transparent
in terms of like the popularity,

the relevancy that you have.

So, video killed the radio star

and now social media is changing
the whole music industry.

What kinds of things rise to the top?

‐ I mean, social media is still
a super young phenomenon,

and extreme characters
sort of get amplified.

What business do you have

talking about 6ix9ine?

‐ Oh, man, it's...

Well, the 6ix9ine story has been my life

basically consistently since, you know,
the summer of 2018.

My God.

Uh, I am an associate editor
at Complex.

And, you know, I was
a staff writer there in 2018.

We were trying to figure out
how to cover this, you know,

SoundCloud rap wave.

And so many of the artists,

uh, including Tekashi,
had, to put it mildly,

objectionable things
in their personal lives.

♪ rapping ♪

VIKRAM: One of those SoundCloud rappers
was Trippie Redd,

a 17‐year‐old kid from Ohio
with face tattoos, gang‐affiliation,

and a record contract.

He was signed to a label called
Strange Music, owned by Elliot Grainge.

Elliot is the son of Sir Lucian Grainge.

Elliot Grainge is the son

of arguably the most powerful man
in the music business.

Yeah, I think it's safe to say
that Tekashi was aware

who Elliot's father was.

VIKRAM: So Danny cozied up to Trippie,
and they made "Poles1469."

‐ ♪ Eh... ♪

VIKRAM: Whether it was an accident
or part of a careful plan,

Danny now had clout with both
Trippie's fan base and the music industry.

♪ rapping ♪

SHAWN: That was the thing
that got Tekashi on Elliot's radar.

You know, who's this kid doing
the song with Trippie Redd?

When Trippie plays a show
in New York, Elliot goes.

He has pizza with Tekashi,
they hit it off.

That leads eventually
to contract negotiations in LA

and to Tekashi signing the deal.

Tekashi liked the creative freedom
that Elliot offered.

"You release what music
you wanna release

"when you wanna release it.

I don't tell you what to do."

Uh, he prized that even above money.

It's been a long time coming,

and you got a whole crazy wave
of buzz going on right now, and, uh...

I'm not sure exactly how it happened,

but you definitely have
a fuckin' defined aesthetic.

Like there's something
very, very new going on with you.

‐ I feel like it's time now to,
you know, show people who I am


for them to really get
to know me and shit.

The 6ix9ine's first interview,

I met him when he had
like 20,000 followers,

I did the interview with him
and he had 60,000

and I posted a photo with him
and then I went

and looked the next day
and he had 70,000.

And that was very odd to me.
I hadn't even put the interview out yet.

But just from a photo,
just from people looking at him,

he got 10,000 followers in a day.

I just remember that really
standing out to me.

I was like, "People are really
gravitating towards this dude

one way or another."

When did this 6ix9ine thing
become a thing, though?

'Cause you have it tattooed
on your body probably, what,
like a couple dozen times?

‐ Nah, it's over like 200 times.

‐ Two hundred, Jesus.
‐ Over, over, over 200.

‐ Oh, my God, okay.

The most noticeable one's
the one on your face.

ADAM22: Easily.

And that's new, right?

DANIEL: Yeah, it's new.
ADAM22: It's still peeling a little bit.

DANIEL: Yeah, it's peeling.
ADAM22: That's brand‐new.

And then when he got
a fucking face tattoo, you know,

like I feel like the face tattoo
for a lot of these artists is like,

"Either it's gonna happen
or I'm gonna die trying,"

because like what else can you really do
with a giant 69 tattooed on your face?

SARA: He was getting these tattoos
behind my back.

I was finding out about the tattoos
the same way everybody else was.

Over Instagram.

In July of 2017, Danny posted photos

of his new forehead tattoo on Instagram.

His new look embodied
the SoundCloud aesthetic so well

that a new meme was born.

The Internet didn't care
that Tekashi 6ix9ine

wasn't even on SoundCloud.

ADAM22: I mean, there's something
kind of nice about becoming a meme,

where it's like there's so many people
talking shit about it

and they don't really know anything
about you and you're just kind of like,

all right, I guess this is
what it's like to be popular
or famous or something,

is that you're a meme now.

‐ I feel like if nobody talk about you,
you're just boring.

You know what I mean?
So, like...

I don't feel no type of way about
the negative feedback that I get.

Like, if you're gonna waste your time
and really be talking about me,

you're actually making me litter.

One meme quickly turned into many.

His nameless image went viral
all over the Internet.

Including this picture
taken by his collaborator

and former friend, Philly Mula.

PHILLY MULA: After that,
I remember everything shot up.

Fuckin' you could say "Poles1469,"
what's that, a couple million,

five, six million,
you know what I'm sayin'?

That gave them both shine,
though, you know?

And then boom, next thing you know

he's fucking top don in New York,
you know what I'm saying?

That's crazy.

VIKRAM: It sounds like you got
a little skepticism

or cynicism around, like,
what it means to be famous

and how to make it.

Basically, what matters the most

is gonna be your image,
you know what I'm sayin'?

With him, what made him
stood out like a sore thumb

was his hair and the tattoos.

But that's, you see, that's probably
what it will take me to get famous.

Matter of fact, I'm gonna get
a fucking packet of sazón

tattooed on my face after this interview.

If I don't make it on World Star, I don't
give a fuck, I'm gonna kill myself.

VIKRAM: You just get,
just get hot sauces on your face?

Fuckin' hell, yeah.

Do stupid shit.
That's what it's gonna take now.

Right as "Poles1469,"

his collaboration with Trippie Redd,
starts to blow up,

Zilla uses this 2015 incident
against Tekashi.

And I should say it's really horrible
to use this girl as a pawn

in a rap beef.

But that's what they did.

Right after this happens,

Trippie decides to distance himself
from 6ix9ine.

‐ I'm sorry, brozzie.

1400 don't promote pedophiles.

We don't, we don't fuck
with, uh, weird niggas.

Niggas, niggas is on
some whole different shit now.

VIKRAM: After being labeled a pedophile
and losing all his allies...

‐ ...it was an accident.

Danny needed to change the narrative.

So he doubled down
on his gangster persona.

Seeing how everything played out

and watching the stuff with Trippie Redd

and the case with the girl from the back
and then learning all this stuff,

I'm looking at it like...

damn, he needed fuckin' help.

He needed help bad.

His name, his reputation, his career
was just going down the drain.

Trippie Redd's Blood.

He's real.

Here come Seqo with some
real fuckin' bunch of Bloods

and these guys are really like that
and you're like, "Oh, shit.

This might be it right here."

I got a call and my manager's like,

"Yo, you wanna come meet this kid?"

I pull up, he played his stuff.
I liked the videos.

And that's how he was
presented to us, through videos.

He told us hisself his music was trash.

"My music is trash, my video fire."

VIKRAM: [laughing] What did you
think about when you heard that?

‐ I thought it was genius.

‐ His music before was like
some rock‐and‐roll stuff.

‐ Yeah.
‐ And then when he,

you know, came around us, I guess,

you know, the gangster stuff
started coming out.

VIKRAM: Why do you, why do you think
he was drawn to that at all? Like...

‐ 'Cause he probably felt that's the way
that people wanted to see.

Everything is just for the entertainment.

So you see that,
the image is for the entertainment.

‐ It's to have you going,

"Oh, ah," or "wow."

It's for the entertainment.

Before I blew up, right?

For a year and a half.

I would pray every day while walking...

and I would be like,
"God, please change my life.

"Please change my life.

"I got a baby, I can't even buy Pampers.

"Please change my life.
Please change my life.

Please change my life."

Then "Gummo" came and life changed.

Mr. Hernandez, did there come a time

when the type of music
that you recorded changed?


What was the name of that song?

"Gummo." G‐U‐M‐M‐O.

What is "Gummo" about?

It was actually a dis song.

And who was the dis song aimed at?

Trippie Redd.

[child speaking indistinctly]

[gun cocks, fires]

♪ Go on, gang ♪

The first thing I hear was my voice.

[singing] go on, gang.

And I just see mad red flags,
and I'm like, hold on.

What the fuck is going on?

‐ ♪ Pop these niggas
like a wheelie, nigga ♪

♪ You a silly nigga... ♪

ADAM: I see this rapper
with this crazy hair

and I'd seen him before but I'd never
heard him speak or anything

and I actually took a second look
and I was like,

"That's Danny from the bodega."

I'm in cars, I'm in the Ubers.

And the Uber driver's playing the record
and I'm hearing my voice

and I'm like, "What the fuck?"

I'm going to my girlfriend's house,
and she's playing the record.

And I'm like, "Yo, how does
everyone know about this?"

[men shouting hysterically]

It was popular,

but then Funk Flex was like,
"I'm gonna play this."

Like, "I'm gonna play a New York rapper
doing a New York song."

["Gummo" playing on radio]

‐ You're on the radio with this one.

ADAM22: To me that was
a really defining moment,

and that, I think, took "Gummo"
to a whole other level.

Locust Street, Brooklyn!

‐ Hey!
‐ Waaaah!

SARA: In the video,
it looked like he wanted to cry

and his face got so red and I saw
that he was like genuinely happy.

‐ ♪ Niggas iffy, uh,
Blicky got the stiffy, uh ♪

‐ There are hit records
that are moving now with
15, 20 million, 25 million views.

Like, that shit hit
50 million views in weeks.

I just couldn't understand
how big he was getting by the day.

It was just immense.

"Gummo" became an instant sensation.

It went viral.

People shared it.

So, it was instant success, I would say.

How do you explain his fame?

ADAM22: Master marketer
combined with somebody

who's willing to just weave
all of these hip‐hop tropes

into their shit, like the gangbanging hit.

We all know it works on young kids,
that they fall for it,

that they like it.

They, that helps them to believe
that they're watching something real.

♪ electronic soundtrack playing ♪

Ten, 20 fucking Bloods out here.

Oh, shit, some of these dudes
are fuckin' real.

Some of these... oh, shit.
That's what's‐his‐name.

Some people really know some of these guys
in Brooklyn, like oh, shit.

everybody's watching it now.

Everybody's thinking,
"Is he really a Blood?"

There's guns in "Gummo"

and there's bags of weed in "Gummo."

And no one brings that up.

"Gummo" is about the red bandanna.

The bandanna was the biggest prop
he could ever use.

ADAM22: This is my favorite
mental image of 6ix9ine.

Showing up in Brooklyn with 50
red bandannas that he bought at the store

and handing them out to actual Bloods.

6ix9ine was so committed to presenting
a version of gangbanging

that didn't necessarily really exist
in New York,

that he showed up and told them like,

"No, this is how
I want you guys to dress."

SEQO: There were some people
out there with their bandannas.

He just bought them new ones,
know what I'm sayin'?

So he went out, just bought
some liquor and some bandannas.

He wanted to feel like
he was doing something.

That's how he thought he would be
part of the family, I guess.

So that's what he did.

VIKRAM: What does
the red bandanna mean?

‐ A red bandanna is just...

a way of just showing
that you are part of the Bloods.

Can you see Government Exhibit 202?

LAWYER: What is that?

370 Madison.

LAWYER: You filmed a music video
in front of 370 Madison?

Yes, sir. "Gummo."

VIKRAM: 370 Madison is a family home,
owned by Chanelle's mother

and Seqo's grandmother,

a retired correctional officer
named Brenda.

This is the "Gummo" house.

People used to come by
and take pictures.

So many people.
We didn't know who was who.

VIKRAM: What kind of people?
Like fans of...?

I guess so. We don't know them.

All types of people.

And we ain't know it was
gonna get that, that, that big.

VIKRAM: Was it fun when he did
the video that day?

‐ No, no, I was in my kitchen cooking.

I walked out and they put
that thing on my head and...

You don't see my expression,

the way I looked when I came out here?

I didn't know these people
was on my step at the time.

How do you really feel, though?

‐ I don't like him no more.
I don't like him.

VIKRAM: Did you like him
when you first met him?

‐ When I met him, he was Kool & the Gang
until he jumped the ship.

He went with them bad boys.

He was good when he was here.

But when he jumped the ship,
I had no more to say to him.

I was done, that was it.


VIKRAM: It sounds like he was
looking to you guys like a family.

CHANELLE: Yeah. He was.

Was like, you know, the sort of stuff
that we was doing, he ain't never...

like I guess Thanksgiving to him.

He's like, "What is this?
This is what y'all do?"

I'm like, "Yeah."

So, it was new stuff to him.

Did you feel like you ever

really got to know
who the real Danny was, or...

‐ The real Danny is a kid.

That was the real Danny.

He liked to play fight.

You know, he think he could wrassle.

And then he turned to, I guess, Tekashi,

the Mexican Blood Rainbow‐Haired Gangster.

Danny experienced a side of family life

that he didn't have on Locust Street.

He started hanging around more
and crashing at their house.

How are you guys related?

‐ That's my nephew.
‐ Yeah, that's my aunt.


You guys are Treyway.

‐ Yep.

‐ Basically, yeah, we are Treyway.

VIKRAM: So I need to ask you, because
I think it's shocking for a lot of people.

You see this Mexican kid,
he's shouting the "N" word,

and everyone behind him is black.

How do you explain that?

[Chanelle laughs]

‐ I just wanted to talk
about the beginning of Treyway.

I don't wanna go into all the other stuff,
like she can answer all the rest of that.

‐ I don't wanna answer
all that other stuff.

BILLY: This is the spot, this is the hood.
This is Bedford‐Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

It's the spot where we
used to come sometime.

Not necessarily on no gang shit.

It's just a spot where
some of our close bros link up.

At this point in my life, I had just got
out of prison, doing like over ten years.

So I'm already lost.

It took me a while even to learn
how to use an iPhone, you know,

and get familiar with these type of stuff,

'cause the only thing I remember
was the little flip phones

and the Nextel stuff
and the fucking Nokia thing

with the light‐up phones,
that's all I remember.

I had no social media, you know?

No Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat.

I didn't even know
what that shit was like that.

And they kept telling me like,

"Go make an Instagram.
We're gonna get you in."

6ix9ine kept saying,
"Make an Instagram,

make an Instagram,
we're gonna get you lit."

And they're like, "Yo, he be getting
mad views and stuff on Instagram."

I'm like, "What the fuck is Instagram?"
Like, what the fuck is that?

The amount of views and, like, likes
we were getting, shit, I was like,

"Oh, shit, like, we have people
fuckin' watching us for real?

This shit is crazy,"
know what I mean?

It was new to me.

[muffled rapping, crowd cheering]

How did things change?

SARA: Just all the people
that he was hanging out with,

the things he was doing,

like he was a person that would
never go out to the club.

Just hanging out
or being around certain people

and certain things that he would
have never done before

and he was doing it.

SHADOW: I do feel like he created
a gap between us.

His crew now abides by different rules.

Not dealing with the hip‐hop collective.

I couldn't just hop into his world
and try to tell him how to move.

So, I, I just stayed away.
Let him do his thing.

He knew where to find me, and when
he needed to reach out, he called me.

So you met Tekashi

at what stage in his development
as an artist?

‐ When I met him
for like the real, real run,

was just a couple days after "Gummo."

‐ "Gummo's" at number seven
in the world right now, at the top...

‐ I'm saying the whole world.
It's kind of like the whole globe.

[Daniel rapping on computer]

[indistinct chatter]

‐ Just name that, um...

just name it "Coolo" for now.

‐ All right, so this is good enough
for shooting a video.

The sessions got way crazier.

Way more people
who we didn't know would come in,

and, you know, I think that was
the start of when things

got a little out of hand. [chuckles]

So I had to make sure that I didn't
get kicked out of the building.

VIKRAM: When you met him
a few days after "Gummo,"

he was already in the Bloods?

‐ To my knowledge, the process.

VIKRAM: He was in the process, yeah.
‐ Yeah.

‐ What's going on, Pvnch?
Big gang members in here.

‐ It's a lot of gang shit...

DJ PVNCH: In "Gummo," he doesn't
do anything, he's just around it.

You can watch the videos after that,
he starts throwing up stuff.

‐ Yeah, you can see it.

‐ What's up, big star? 'Sup?
Who say you're not good?

‐ I don't know.
‐ Who say he not good?

LAWYER: Approximately
when did you become a member?

I would say November of 2017.

After we shot "Gummo,"
I knew the formula was to repeat it.

To repeat what?

To repeat the gang image.

It was just a formula,
a blueprint that I found that worked.

BILLY: We shot one of the viral videos,
"Kooda," out here.

The concept of that video was just,

we freestyle, we made different shit,
you know?

‐ There's about to be a movie
out here tonight, you heard?

BILLY: We were shooting right here first,
and then we was like, you know what?

We should fucking go in
the train station, train right here.

Fuck it. Just go in the train,
jump on the tracks.

Just wild out, whatever.
We'll make the video lit.

♪ rapping ♪

Against basically everyone's advice,

6ix9ine decides to just keep releasing
songs at a rapid clip.

He'll make a song,
shoot a video, release it.

I thought he was crazy for releasing
"Kooda" at the speed he was doing.

Like "Gummo" was literally doing millions
and he was like,

"Yeah, I'm putting this out in two weeks."

And I was just like... what the fuck
is wrong with this kid?

That is one thing
I have to give him credit for.

The speed in which
he released records, that's all him.

"Gummo" comes out in October.

"Kooda" drops that December.

[chatting indistinctly]

"Keke" comes out in January.

‐ Hey!

"Billy" comes out in March.

All of this stuff is happening
so, so rapidly.

He's literally releasing the songs
and making them.

♪ rapping ♪

BILLY: Me coming from prison every day,
just shooting the videos,

going on tour.

Everything was just, it was lit.

It was just fun to me.
It was just fun doing it.

And we doin' it with our bros.

[siren chirping]

‐ We're here, bro.
We're live with it‐‐

‐ Don't come out there with that bullshit
or you gonna get popped
like a wheelie, you heard?

VIKRAM: Being gang‐affiliated doesn't
necessarily mean you're a criminal.

Chanelle, Seqo and Ado
had been creating a company

called Treyway Entertainment.

And when Danny entered their lives,
Treyway finally got on the radar

of the hip‐hop world.

But the Treyway crew
quickly became a gateway

for Danny to meet a larger family.

What was the name of the gang
that you were a member of?

The Nine Trey Bloods.

VIKRAM: The East Coast set of
the notorious Los Angeles street gang

was formed in Rikers Island in 1993.

The gang has been linked
to gun smuggling, human trafficking,

armed robberies, and heroin sales,

and considered
an organized criminal enterprise,

subject to the same
racketeering laws as the Mafia.

Now that Danny was starting to make money
from streams, concerts, and appearances,

he could be the gang's cash cow.

And the Nine Trey Bloods gave Danny
something that Loaf Muzik

and Scum Gang never could.

They could back up his online trolling
with real‐life muscle.

One of the Nine Trey members
that grew close to Danny early on

was Harv.

He soon became Danny's
day‐to‐day bodyguard.

‐ Treyway.


VIKRAM: During their friendship,
Harv and other members backed up Danny

in his beef with Trippie Redd,

by stalking him to the Gansevoort Hotel
and punching him in the face.

I just walked in and the nigga

sucker‐punched me in my mouth, nigga.

Real Bloods don't move like that, bro.

Now I'm gonna beat your ass
when I see you, my nigga.

You gonna be fucked up, nigga.

I just want you to know this shit, bro.

VIKRAM: Backstage at a performance
at A$AP Yams Day in New York,

the crew protected him
when a brawl broke out.

They fought again
at a random scuffle at LAX.

Another member of the gang was Shotti,

a longtime rival of Harv.

When I released "Gummo,"

a lot of people were showing
attention to it,

and Shotti actually called Seqo
and said, uh,

"Tell him to stay in touch."

What happened?

I stayed in touch.

[engines revving]

♪ hip‐hop playing ♪

SHAWN: Kifano Jordan Shotti
has an extensive criminal history.

Probably the most outrageous incident
was this one time in New Jersey

where he got pulled over while driving
and took off running.

And by the time cops
finally caught up to him,

they found heroin
and a machete and marijuana.

And he'd tried to convince
one of the girls he was with

to like hide some drugs
in her private parts.

Like, it was a whole huge thing.

And he was actually made
Hunterdon County Fugitive of the Week.

It's funny because the whole time
6ix9ine was on his rise to fame,

Shotti was technically still on the run
for those New Jersey charges.

[shouting indistinctly]

VIKRAM: After seeing
all the success that Danny had found,

Shotti realized there was a way
to cash in on the Treyway name.

‐ Um, Treyway is the new Death Row,

'cause we comin' to the game
with a ferocity.

We are the new bad boy because
we comin' to the game with all the hits.

I'm the hottest CEO in the game,
you dig what I'm sayin'?

I matter. That's why you talk to me.

SHOTTI: Yeah, that's a fact. I can't‐‐
Nobody can't manage 6ix9ine.

He can't... it just won't happen,
you dig it?

He's like a, um, a wild animal.
You just gotta let him be, he rolls free.

Dig what I'm saying?

CHANELLE: He just thought he was
the damn boss, that's all he wanted to be.

He wasn't the CEO of Treyway.
He knew... he knew that.

So, I guess he was trying to,
you know, start a little trouble,

or try to make, you know, two Treyways.


Like many times in Danny's story,

a rift started to form
in the Treyway crew.

Chanelle, Seqo Billy, Billy Ado , and Harv

were slowly being pushed out by Shotti.

‐ Shotti probably had his own agenda
that nobody knew of.

That's that sneaky stuff
when you're around people

and they snaking you.

We didn't know.

That's what you get
when you don't stray the right way.

You came over here through Seqo,
you supposed to stick with Seqo.

That's it.

VIKRAM: Like, what do you see
as like the two different directions?

What could have happened
if you imagined‐‐

CHANELLE: One is the straight path,
the good path, and one is the bad path.

He like did the bad path,
the negative path.

Shotti's the dark side.

SHAWN: Tekashi loses the man
he considers his father

when he's 13 years old.

Tekashi's biological father
is out of his life very early on.

I think Tekashi was searching
for father figures

and Shotti definitely played that role.

VIKRAM: The dark side
complemented Danny's persona,

and Shotti let Tekashi 6ix9ine loose.

CHANELLE: A troll is somebody
who wants attention.

They don't care how they get
the attention as long as they get it.

Good, bad, negative.

Hurtin' people. They just want it.

He was unstoppable.

He liked to troll.
He was the troll king.

‐ You know how many people
I told to suck my dick in this industry?

Everybody suck my fuckin' dick.

Suck my fuckin' dick.

my fuckin' dick.

Suck my fuckin' dick.

Suck my dick, suck my dick,
suck my dick.

Suck my dick with your mother's lips.
Have your mother suck my dick.

Yo, I done told the whole world
to suck my dick.

I tell niggas suck my dick every day.

‐ You tell somebody
to suck your dick, man,
you gotta be ready to either kill or die.

‐ Aight, and I'm ready to die
and I'm ready to kill.

‐ Jesus Christ.
SARA: He's always been a troll.

Always. Before the persona.

Even when he was just Danny,
Danny was gonna troll you.

He just knew how to tug on emotions.

He knew how to get people mad,
whether it was a lie or the truth.

He had no limits on what he would do.

It was all about the pursuit of clout.

VIKRAM: Clout on the Internet
translated into rock star money.

Danny started flaunting jewelry
and stacks of cash online.

Now with the support of the gang,
Danny's trolling intensified

and he started targeting
mainstream rappers.

‐ Luda, you bum ass, pussy ass,
"Fast and the Furious" geek.

‐ [indistinct]
Well, nigga, fuck 6ix9ine, nigga.

I want Bloods!
What's happening, Blood?

‐ Hey, Blood. Man, fuck 6ix9ine, Blood.

In real life, these rappers
are fuckin' pussies.

‐ You don't think
you're effing up your money

with this tough guy gangster persona?

‐ Nah...
What, you think it's a persona?

‐ It is clearly a persona.

VIKRAM: So, what was Danny like
when he wasn't being 6ix9ine?

‐ A lot more timid.

Drastically, drastically, drastically
less aggressive.

Uh, way more playful.

He still was playful, even though
when he was on, on, on,

when cameras was off, he still like...

he still was on his kid shit, you know.

Slap you and run.

VIKRAM: And what is the difference
between Daniel and Tekashi?

‐ They were two separate people
at the beginning,

but that, that morphed into one.

'Cause, yeah, 'cause over time, it's like,

what's the point
of switching back to normal?

SARA: It was becoming hard for him
to really differentiate,

like, this persona and his real life.

There was no difference between
Danny and Tekashi anymore.

‐ You see the Mexican, Jorge?

ANGIE MARTINEZ: That's your security.
‐ That's my everyday guy.

And when you look at him,

you're like,
"That's not Tekashi's entourage."

ANGIE: You must like him 'cause...
DANIEL: And I love him.

He literally is like
another father to my daughter.

He's everything. Like he's...

ANGIE: So, did he make you
come here today?

DANIEL: He literally woke me up,
and just like, "Yo, come on,

you've got an interview,
it starts at 12:00, it's 11:30."

VIKRAM: With Shotti by his side
and Jorge behind the wheel,

6ix9ine and members
of the Nine Trey Bloods

started committing
premeditated robberies and assaults

to settle the beef that he'd started
on social media.

6ix9ine had become a full‐on gangster.

And that's when the guns
started coming out.

In April 2018, after being insulted
by members of Rap‐A‐Lot Records,

the gang rushed
to Midtown Manhattan to retaliate.

VIKRAM: They ended up robbing
at gunpoint ScumLord Dizzy,

a rapper completely unrelated to the beef,

who just happened to be exiting the lobby.

They stole his gold chain
and his backpack.

VIKRAM: You were there also
at the Barclays, right?

[indistinct rap over loudspeaker]

‐ [gunshot]
‐ [screaming]

Who's controlling the situation?

Is Danny controlling it, or Shotti?
Who's making it happen?

‐ Niggas started running and shit.

[indistinct chatter]

‐ Nigga say, fuck boy don't run.

VIKRAM: And then afterwards,
Danny goes on the Internet.

He's laughing about it.

‐ Ever'body?
‐ Ever'body gettin' shot. Boom‐boom‐boom!

[siren wailing]

VIKRAM: So, at this point,
you have got in pretty deep.

‐ So, fuck Chief Keef, fuck Lil Reese,
fuck all them niggas.

Fuck is y’all niggas talking about, nigga?
This is fuckin' Treyway, nigga.

‐ Treyway!
‐ I betcha...

One of the times that I realized

his trolling could be like
actually really real

was when he was trolling
with Chief Keef.

And he had put out a hit
on Chief Keef's head.

‐ Yeah, I got, I got, I got a 30‐pack
on him right now, Blood.


That surfaced and it went viral,

and the next day Chief Keef
flew out to New York

and he was in Brooklyn.

I started seeing like the outcome

of his trolling going too far.

REPORTER: Chicago rapper Chief Keef
is doing fine tonight

after being shot at in New York.

ADAM22: You send your friend
to go shoot at Chief Keef

in the middle of Midtown Manhattan.

You're crazy. That's not something that
anybody in their right mind would ever do.

In a big way, you know,
those are the things

that sort of made people
want to pay attention to him,

is that it seemed like he was

doing something that should put
his life at risk, on a weekly basis.

‐ I mean, I guess he has
a lot of beef on these streets.

I don't know who's he's beefing with
that wants to hurt him,

but it's definitely not me,
I'm actually a fan.

SHAWN: He knew that doing
the unthinkable would...

get him attention and make him a star.

And he was absolutely right.

‐ But this year we got three songs
on the Billboard Top 100.

You know what I'm sayin'?
100,000, man.

"Gummo," "Kooda," "Keke,"
"Rondo," and "Billy."

‐ Treyway!
‐ Treyway!

So, "Gotti" just hit five million
in one day,

six for six on fucking Billboard.

‐ Six for what?
‐ We six for six.

‐ Six for what?

‐ The fuck goin' on, man?
We ain't duckin' chains out here, man.

We out here killin' New York shit, man.
This is my CEO.

[crowd cheering]

I'm on a world tour.
Every show sold out.

‐ Just landed in Barcelona, Spain.

♪ Look at me, look at me ♪

They try to stop us.

I'll break through all that shit.

You know, pedophile comments,
all that shit.

Nobody can stop me.

This is fuckin' Treyway.

What up, y'all?
So I just landed in Belgium.

Tomorrow I will be in Berlin.

Shit, it is gonna be fuckin' retarded.

[music playing, crowd cheering]

‐ How many of you niggas ever been
in the Swiss Alps with the fucking
number‐one artist in the world?

♪ rapping ♪

‐ I'm with the fuckin' Treyway.
Peace out and shit, Blood.

‐ Sign with Treyway,
look what your life could be.

Sign with Treyway.

6ix9ine was on top of his game.

Money was flowing in,

and he'd found a perfect
partner in crime in Shotti.

‐ I'm really the King of New York.

Like I'm really the king of my city.

And I'm happy.

I'm happy, like...

I'm just fuckin' happy.

VIKRAM: So how did everything
start falling apart?

In large part, there are people,

you know, loyal to Shotti

and Shotti's longtime friend Mel Murda.

That crew actually becomes known
as the "Murderville line" of Nine Trey.

And then you have people who, you know,

feel like they were around
in the beginning

and who sacrificed for Tekashi
and were there with him

and let him sleep on their floor.

And they feel like they are
getting pushed out.

I think you have people
like Chanelle and Seqo.

And, you know, even Harv,
who gets pushed out around the spring.

Harv punched Trippie
right in the mouth for Tekashi.

Harv got into a brawl at LAX for Tekashi
and then isn't getting paid.

Everything culminates
in Harv saying, you know,

"I'm gonna kidnap and rob this guy."

So I leave the house.

We get like a block away,
two blocks away.

We had a red light,

and a car just smashes
the whole back of the car.

[car crashes]

My face almost hit the fuckin' dashboard.

[car occupants speaking indistinctly]

He's telling me in Spanish like,
"I'm gonna let them go.
Let me just make sure they're okay."

Oh, my God.

I'm looking in the side mirror.

All I see is this dude...

I see the gun in his hand.

My whole heart just went
to my stomach, like, they got me.

My door swung open.

[tires squeal]

‐ [phone dialing]
‐ [recorded voice playing indistinctly]

I'm in the back seat, I'm just like‐‐
I don't have nothing to offer.

And I'm trying to avoid
going to the house.

So it's at a point where
it's just like my life or something.

DANIEL: Is jewelry, is money,
is all that shit more important

than seeing Saraiyah, my daughter,
graduate from kindergarten?

So I say, "I got some jewelry in the crib.
Don't hurt my daughter."

'Cause they wasn't letting me look
nowhere out the windows.

By the time I came back up,
I'm in front of my house.

When the jewelry was recovered,
I'm like...

I am a free man, and when that car went,

my stomach started turning in circles.

[tires screeching]

Where are we goin'?

Is this the place where I die?
Is this the place? No.

'Cause we keep driving.

Aight, is this the place? No.

What is about to happen?

And I started talking to God.

I'm like, "You're the only one
that can get me out of this."

There was an argument that happened.

I managed to throw myself out.

We begin with "12 on Crime" news.

Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine is safe,
according to authorities.

He was taken to Kings County Hospital
for observation.

So far no arrests have been made,
and the investigation is ongoing.

[siren chirping]

[police radio in background]

Tekashi's on tour

and he's getting ready to move apartments.

Obviously, not him personally,
but, you know, his family, his stuff,

is getting ready to be moved
to Long Island.

And, in the midst of this,

the feds roll up
and confiscate a bunch of stuff,

including an assault rifle
and a backpack that was taken

at the "This is 50" robbery.

This absolutely freaks Tekashi out.

He doesn't know what to do.

And he actually ends up, unfortunately,

taking out his state of mind
on Sara Molina, who flies out to Dubai.

He was begging me to go to Dubai.

He was like,
"Please, can you come over here?

"I'm scared.

"And I know once I land,

"if I go back right now,
they're gonna lock me up.

"And if I'm gonna see a face,

"please let your face be
the last face I see.


You know, so he ended up
convincing me to go.

I got to Dubai, and as soon as I got in,
he asked to go through my phone.

And he's going through my messages.

He's very angry 'cause he sees Jorge

is telling me things that he was doing.

Basically, just like snitching on him.

He saw that, immediately got livid.

And he went ahead and like took my phone

and smashed it on my head,

and started punching me in my head.


VIKRAM: Had he ever done
anything like that before?

‐ Yeah.

He's a person that doesn't know
how to deal with his anger.

VIKRAM: At what point
in your relationship did the abuse start?

SARA: It started maybe a month
after I moved in with him.

VIKRAM: So even before he was famous,
even before Tekashi was a thing...

‐ Yeah.
‐ ...Danny was actually violent.

‐ Yeah.

VIKRAM: Tekashi's 2015 sex crime case
came back to haunt him,

and he had to prove to the court
that he wasn't really the gangster

that he appeared to be on social media.

‐ On behalf of the Make‐a‐Wish Foundation,
we're gonna go visit Franklin.

He's a 5‐year‐old young boy

that has stage 4 terminal brain cancer.

[children cheering]

SHAWN: His legal team was
able to convince the judge

that all this gang stuff
was just for show,

was to promote his music.


SHAWN: Really he was a good guy
who cared about the community

and went to see sick fans
and gave out money

to underprivileged people.

And it worked.

[children chattering]

REPORTER: Tekashi 6ix9ine
is breathing a sigh of relief tonight.

Just a short time ago,
a judge sentenced him

to four years' probation.

He's completely dodging
jail time this time.

And the judge did warn him,

if he violated any of the terms
of this probation,

he will be facing jail time.

We were all happy.

That case had went on
for basically like three years.

And we were gonna go get something
to eat and kind of celebrate

right before my daughter's birthday party.

Elliot was already at Philippe's
with his security,

so when we got there,

Shotti told Danny to stay in the car,
that he wanted to have a talk with Elliot.

Elliot just told him
that he don't like him,

he don't want him around.

He thinks he's bad for business

and that he shouldn't be around Danny.

SHAWN: The backstory to that is that,
Shotti was in the position

of already fielding a ton of offers
from record labels for 6ix9ine,

with a healthy cut for himself,

but he couldn't take them

because 6ix9ine was signed
to Elliot Grainge.

And Shotti doesn't like that very much.

REPORTER: All right, let's bring you right
up to date here with some breaking news.

Police responding right now
to a shooting in Midtown.

...near busy Madison Avenue,

and tonight we're learning
it is connected

to a controversial rapper.

REPORTER 3: Hernandez
was due to meet his manager

here at the Upper East Side
restaurant Philippe to celebrate

but brought a bunch of friends,
whom the manager had not invited.

REPORTER 4: One of them uses a chair
to hit one of the private security guys,

a retired cop.

OFFICER: This security guard
produced a licensed handgun

and fired two times, striking
one of the individuals in the torso.

So this is a key moment,

because Tekashi is really on his way

to becoming an actual
honest‐to‐goodness star,

who, you know, your grandma knows.

And here comes Shotti and his friends,
these gangsters, you know,

forcing their way in by throwing
a chair at the window.

And it's really emblematic of this whole
moment in Tekashi's career,

where he's trying to push out the people
who honestly got him where he was.

What's up, everybody?

So I'm letting everybody know
that I canceled my whole tour.

The American dates is not happening.
It's not going down.

I fired everybody in my team.

I got no manager, I got no booking agent,
I got no PR, no public‐‐

I don't got nobody on my team.

It's just me...

After his falling out with Shotti,

6ix9ine was back to being a gang of one.

Why did you fire everybody, 6ix9ine?

Yeah, we seen the video yesterday.

I learned the hard way, right?

Every Blood is not your Blood.

I'll just put that like that, right?


‐ There's a difference between
being a gang member...

and just being a dirty nigga.

‐ [chuckles]

Only two things I'm scared of in life.

God first.

And the FBI.

REPORTER: New information tonight
about the man who calls himself

Tekashi 6ix9ine.

Tekashi 6ix9ine was arrested.

Tekashi 6ix9ine is in federal custody

on racketeering and firearms charges,
along with several former associates.

REPORTER 4: The investigation
was a joint effort between ATF,

the NYPD, and Homeland Security.

REPORTER 5: Tekashi 6ix9ine
pleaded guilty to federal charges,

admitted he participated
in a violent gang.

He also pledged
to cooperate with prosecutors.

He was facing a mandatory
47‐year prison sentence.

VIKRAM: After his arrest,
his popularity reached new heights.

This was 6ix9ine's crowning achievement.

LAWYER: Mr. Hernandez, are you currently
in federal custody?

DANIEL: Yes, sir.

LAWYER: Approximately when did
you start living in federal custody?

November 18, 2018.

LAWYER: At some point, did you decide
to cooperate with the government?


When did that happen?

DANIEL: November 19th,
the day after we was taken down.

LAWYER: Mr. Hernandez, do you
recognize anyone in the courtroom

as a member of Nine Trey
when you were a member?

‐ Yes.

Who do you recognize?

‐ Harv Anthony Ellison has a gray suit on.

His testimony helped the feds hand out

over a hundred years of prison time

to Harv,


Mel Murda,

and eight other Nine Trey members.

‐ Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine...

WOMAN 1: Oh, no!
WOMAN 2: Why?

‐ ...has been getting a bad rap lately

for snitching on pretty much everyone
during his trial.

‐ Snitching to stay out of jail.

There's a chance he might even end up
in the Witness Protection Program.

I'd love this guy to be
my milkman one day.

He sang like a canary.

‐ That motherfucker sang
like Aretha Franklin.

[man laughing]

‐ Snitch nine.
‐ Motherfuckers hate this guy.

‐ Snitch.
‐ You're a rat...

‐ This nigga's crazy.

R‐A‐T. Rat.

‐ Shout out to Tekashi, though.
I hope he doesn't die.

REPORTER: Tekashi 6ix9ine has gotten
a multimillion‐dollar record deal

while he's in jail.

REPORTER 2: Just cut a deal
worth more than $10 million...

...with his former label, 10K Projects.

While I was in the NYPD,

they created a unit
that was called the Rap Unit.

There was a lot of violence
in the rap music industry.

Rappers were perpetrators,
or they were victims.

When Biggie got killed,
his death opened up the eyes

of the police department.

I had to go out and I had to monitor
where they went,

what kind of venues they went to.

Not just to profile them
but to keep them out of trouble.

VIKRAM: The feds had been monitoring
the Nine Trey Bloods for decades.

So 6ix9ine's social media presence

gave them, and the entire world,
a window in.

‐ The federal government has wiretaps,
cell phone traps, traces.

And remember, in New York City now,
we have cameras everywhere.

You could say Big Brother's watching.

What the feds discovered

is that there was dissension
in the ranks,

where this guy
wasn't getting enough money.

This guy's looking to rob him.

When he got involved with the Bloods,
there's really no way out.

It's not like you could just walk away.

And I know for a fact that, you know,
he was spoken to and talked to.

You know?
VIKRAM: Before he was arrested?

‐ Yes.

VIKRAM: In one wiretap,
Shotti can be heard

threatening 6ix9ine's life.

‐ This is Mel Murda and Shotti
talking about 6ix9ine.

‐ The FBI used
some of the recordings to inform him,

"Look, this is what's gonna happen to you
if you don't come onboard."

Remember, they had informants
inside the camp.

VIKRAM: Do you know who
the FBI informant was?


VIKRAM: After you got picked up
by the feds, did they wire you?

Did they ever wiretap you?

VIKRAM: So, Jorge, you testified
in court, right?

VIKRAM: So the Bloods know
that you were involved in it.

VIKRAM: Are you nervous
about the Bloods right now?

‐ [distant horn honking]
‐ [muted crowd chatter]

VIKRAM: Our world's increasingly dominated
by extreme personalities.

The press and social media
can't get enough.

So it felt appropriate
that 6ix9ine's sentencing

would be handed out on the same day
as Trump's impeachment.

As Danny took to the microphone
for his final statement to the court,

a disheveled man
in his 50s raised his voice,

proclaiming to be
Daniel's biological father.

Not the one who'd been murdered,

but the man who'd abandoned the family
when Danny was just a boy.

He'd not seen his son in nearly 15 years.

The courtroom, and Daniel,
were visibly shaken.

Daniel said to the judge,
"My life is so crazy.

I don't even know
if this is a joke anymore."

Daniel was sentenced
to two years, with time served,

which meant he would be out
in less than a year.

He got money.

You know, he got millions.

Why he have to do stuff
that is not worth it?

You know what I'm saying?

I will sit down with him
and put him straight.

How do you feel right now?

‐ Right now, I feel good, I feel good.

Only a little strange
'cause I got a lot of microphones

and cameras and all that.

But no money, no money.

Nobody bring no money.
‐ No cigarettes.

‐ Then I don't say nothing. [laughing]

For years, Daniel Hernandez Sr.

had been living
only a few miles from his son.

I met him outside
his homeless shelter in Queens.

DANIEL SR.: You know Tekashi 6ix9ine?
MAN: Uh‐huh.

DANIEL SR.: That's my son.
MAN: Oh.

He's famous, a multimillionaire.

MAN: Good for you.
DANIEL SR.: Yeah. [laughs]

God bless you.

In the brief time I spent with him,

he claimed to have insights
on his estranged son.

He knows how I went to jail.

He knows I was locked up,
and he always wanted to be a gangster.

All right? I know that affect him,
you know what I'm saying?

Because, uh, he...
I think he took that from me.

VIKRAM: And he spoke of plans
to be in his son's life again.

DANIEL SR.: I would love to tell him
that I miss him,

that I love him with all my heart,

that I'm looking forward to be with him.

And then he told me a bizarre story

of his connection to Daniel's stepfather,

the man who had been murdered
years before.

DANIEL SR.: Uh, in the time
that I was locked up, I met him,

and when he got released,
I give him a letter, a note,

for him to give it to my wife and my kids.

But when he went there,
he got involved with my wife.

He built a relationship with my kids.

Real strong, you know, with Danielito

and Oscar, right?

He used to play with them.

You know, he acted real close
to them and everything.

And they loved him like he was his father.

Because I wasn't there.

How did that make you feel?

Oh, Lord, that hurt me so much.

But anyway, he got what he deserved.

VIKRAM: So you're kind of like
a little happy he got killed?

‐ Yes, I did. I ain't gonna lie.

I ain't gonna lie,
because I would have done it.


You know?

Even though he barely knew him,

so much of Danny's life
was shaped by this man's actions.

And for a moment,
I felt a deep sympathy for Danny.

After all, he was only 23 years old.

So maybe you could just tell me
about why you're out here

and left the city and...

I just felt like it was necessary

and it was something that had to be done.

Everything that was going on
was too chaotic.

And it worried me.

It worried my family, too.

Like, we didn't feel safe.

VIKRAM: Do you think that the fact
that his father abandoned him

has an effect on how he has lived his life
and treats his daughter,

and how do you see that...?

‐ I don't... I don't correlate the two.

It's just, if that's something
you went through as a child,

you know the feeling.

You know how it made you feel.

Why would you want
to put that on your kids?

Your job is to break the cycle.

Those little generational curses,

you should want and do better
for your kids.

His relationship with my daughter
is nonexistent.

He was never really
a present father at all, whatsoever.

He uses my daughter to gain likeness,

to gain sympathy.

Like, "Look, I'm a good dad."

Like, "I'm a good guy. I'm a dad.

"I have a daughter I care about.

"I need to come home, Judge, please.

I have... I wanna see my daughter,
my daughter, my daughter, my daughter."

He uses my daughter
when it's convenient for him.

Me knowing him on a personal level,

I know the core person that he is,
and he's a really good person.

He didn't know boundaries,
he didn't know when to stop with things.

There never will be
another 6ix9ine again.

I still cry. It breaks my heart.

It just breaks my heart.

I miss him and I feel bad
that he's in there, you know?

Danny is the executive agent

and 6ix9ine is the artist.

Like I break it into two different people.
Like I know Danny.

He's a quiet, conscious dude.

Like he's not gangbang,
shoot‐em‐up, in your face.

Like he's not like that.
That's not how he was raised.

Money and fame can really corrupt
a lot of people.

Not saying it corrupted him,
but I'm saying like,

that can really be the downfall,
the love of money.

DJ PVNCH: I think it was
an easy narrative to sell.

There's this young Spanish boy
who got taken advantage

by these aggressive, dangerous black men,

and they allowed him

to put multiple black men into jail.

Shotti took 15 years.

My friend's in jail for 15 years,
and that's fucked up.

He said that my mother's house
was the headquarters for Bloods,

which that's definitely not the case.

Or because we might, you know,
if somebody say they're hungry

and come in and stuff,
you know, she might take them in

and feed them or whatever.

But he took advantage.

‐ He slept on my floor, he ate my food,

and for the world,
he did not know what pie was.

He ate Thanksgiving dinner with me.

He didn't know what pie was,
with his stupid ass.

BODEGA: I respect men
and what they stand on.

He loved fame so much
that he put everybody in hell.

We, we stand on different things.

And, you know, he's,
he's on a different side now.

BILLY: To me,
it was just built in his ego and stuff.

He didn't care about the money to me.

He didn't care about none of that stuff,
to be honest, me knowing Danny.

Of course, the money,
it was the perks of everything,

but the fame is what drove him, you know?

After coronavirus shut down the world,

prisons became a health crisis.

Since Danny had asthma,

the judge allowed him to serve
the remainder of his sentence

from house arrest.

So within only a few weeks,
from an undisclosed location,

Tekashi 6ix9ine was back
on social media.

He dropped a new music video
and an Instagram Live.

They both broke records.

[6ix9ine shouting]

He was more 6ix9ine than ever before,
more hated than ever...

‐ I can't be stopped, nigga!

and more popular than ever.

But having lost all the people
that once supported him,

he was probably more alone than ever.

In August 2020,
Tekashi 6ix9ine was set free...

‐ Nice day outside.

and having refused witness protection,

returned to the streets,

surrounded by armed security
at all times.

I reached out to him to do an interview,
to hear his story in his own words.

I contacted his team and sent messages
through people still close to him.

His management got straight to the point.

I guess I didn't have the clout.

Maybe it's just as well.

What would he say
that he hadn't already said in court,

that he hadn't already said
all over social media?

Perhaps I was holding out

in the hopes that I could somehow
help him redeem himself.

Because in a way, his redemption
could clear my own conscience.

I'd be able to convince myself
that I'd spent all this time

telling a cautionary tale about a humble,
ambitious artist named Danny,

who carried himself out of poverty

but just got carried away
in the pursuit of clout.

And not that I'd fallen into the trap
of a troll named Tekashi 6ix9ine

and given him the attention
that he'd been seeking all along.

[hip‐hop music playing]