For Tekashi 6ix9ine to avoid a long prison term after pleading guilty to federal racketeering charges, the rapper may have to testify in open court against some of his alleged associates in the violent Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods street gang.
The idea of Tekashi turning “snitch” has left the hip-hop community divided, according to the site Hotnewhiphop.com. Some fans hope the rainbow-haired “Gummo” star comes home soon to make more music, spark more feuds and stir up more outrage on Instagram.
But others derisively call the 22-year-old “Tekashi SnitchNine.” They believe in sticking to “the law of the streets, not the courts,” which says that “snitches aren’t welcome,” Hotnewhiphop.com added.
Shortly before Tekashi’s arrest in November, several alleged Nine Trey members were caught on wiretap threatening to “violate” him for turning against them. In an early court hearing, Kifano “Shotti” Jordan, the rapper’s former manager and an alleged Nine Trey Bloods leader, reportedly proclaimed, “We don’t fold, we don’t bend, we don’t break. It’s Tr3yway.”
But since then, Jordan has joined Tekashi and several other alleged Nine Trey members in pleading guilty to weapons, narcotics and other charges in the sprawling federal investigation.
The Brooklyn-born Tekashi once was facing a maximum term of life in prison, but he is now hoping to get out of prison much sooner, even by early next year.
Aside from the fact that Tekashi’s life has been threatened, another question looms: Will the hip-community welcome him back and support him in making more music?
“I think that it depends on what his base is willing to accept,” comedian, radio host and cultural commentator D.L. Hughley said in an appearance on VladTV, the YouTube show hosted by DJ Vlad. “I think it’s primarily up to his fans.”
But as Hughley and Vlad noted, the “snitch” issue is complicated, and the norms are changing when it comes to what “the streets” are willing tolerate after a favorite artist agrees to cooperate with law enforcement to mitigate their legal consequences.
Los Angeles-based rapper Boskoe100 recently highlighted these complexities during an appearance on VladTV. He shared how a best friend once “snitched” on him to avoid jail time after they were arrested for residential burglary as juveniles.
Boskoe100 said the betrayal was “heartbreaking” and he never spoke to the friend again — but he never sought revenge. However, others would want to get even and let a snitch know such actions can’t be tolerated, the rapper explained.
“Back in the day, like someone say you snitched, people turned up dead,” Boskoe100 said. “A lot of people turned up dead after getting the snitch jacket put on them.”
Nonetheless, Boskoe100 said, “Times are changing.”
That view was seconded by Hughley, who told Vlad that cooperating with authorities is only taboo “in some places.”
“Now you get record deals,” said Hughley. “Snitches don’t get stitches, they get residuals. Snitches don’t get stitches, they get a deal from the prosecution.”
Hughley also joked about how spilling on alleged criminal associates has almost become trendy these days. He mentioned how Michael Cohen turned against his boss, President Donald Trump, and implicated the president in an alleged violation of campaign finance law. He also referred to the Nigerian brothers who told Chicago police that they helped “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett stage a hate crime attack.
“It was Michael Cohen, them Nigerian brothers with Jussie Smollett, and Tekashi snitch-nine, 6ix9ine,” Hughley said. “Who snitched the best? It was a little run where (they out-snitched each other).”
“Those Nigerians told fast,” Hughley added. “Michael Cohen snitched so good I thought he was (going) to tell us who killed Biggie and Tupac.”
Trump critics would say the president sounded like he was adhering to the “laws of the street,” and channeling the language of an underworld crime boss when he called Cohen a “rat” in one of his Twitter rants in mid-December.
Whether Tekashi, born Daniel Hernandez, will take the stand this year depends on whether any of his co-defendants go to trial. Page Six reported that cases involving five co-defendants are still pending.
On Tuesday, a federal prosecutor told a judge at a hearing in New York City that the government is still working on plea negotiations with those defendants, Page Six reported. So far, fewer than three of the defendants may go to trial in September.
It appears likely that more will be known this summer about whether Tekashi must testify, Complex reported. All defendants are scheduled to appear in court for a hearing in August.
Meanwhile, Tekashi is expected to be sentenced in January, Complex said. At that point, his attorneys could ask a judge to sentence him to time served, TMZ reported earlier this month.
“If the judge grants it, he’d walk free because he’s fulfilled his obligations under his cooperation agreement with authorities,” TMZ reported. “It’s a long shot, but it’s probably the only chance he’s got.”