“If given a second chance, I will not let this Court down and I will dedicate a portion of my life to helping others not make the same mistakes that I’ve made,” Daniel “6ix9ine” Hernandez wrote in a letter to Judge Paul Engelmayer on December 11, 2019.
Well, we didn’t get that. But at least he remembered to apologize to his mother.
Millions of people witnessed 6ix9ine’s return to public life on Friday afternoon. After the rapper announced that he would be going on Instagram Live and dropping a song, the world wondered what Daniel Hernandez would be like after being behind bars since November 2018. Would hip-hop’s biggest troll be chastened and repentant after having to recount his misdeeds on the witness stand? Would he acknowledge the friends and family of the dozen other men in his case who pled guilty or were convicted? Would he apologize to the victims of his crimes?
Of course not. This is 6ix9ine we’re talking about.
The afternoon began with a new music video, for a song called “Gooba.” The song and video appear to have been made after 6ix9ine’s release from prison into home confinement early last month. His lyrics reference the coronavirus and he taunts about how he “came home to a big bag.” The rapper’s current girlfriend Sarah “Jade” Wattley appears in the video, showing off tattoos of her boo. And, while her representative has not yet confirmed this to Complex, it’s almost certain that the woman in red is Wattley’s sister, Rachel “Baddie Gi” Wattley. The Wattley sisters were also the first thing we saw in the Instagram Live session that followed the video’s release, dressed in matching outfits and dancing to the new song.
But the video, and the nearly nine-minute monologue on the IG Live session that followed, demonstrated that the 6ix9ine we’re likely to see in public is the one we remember from before his arrest—always ready with a taunt or a joke, and willing to do anything for attention. It’s not the repentant, quiet young man we saw in the courtroom.
In his December 2019 sentencing hearing, 6ix9ine talked about how he would use his fame if he was allowed to be free.
We saw a 24-year-old man obsessed with money, popularity, haters, and getting even. 6ix9ine fell right back into his favorite role: the upstart who doesn’t conform to street codes, and wins anyway.
“Moving forward I want to use my platform that I have to correct my wrongs,” he told Judge Paul Engelmayer. “I want to inspire the youth. My action moving forward [will] tell a true success story of growth, of redemption, and a willingness to change.”
That is not the story we saw on Friday. Instead, we saw a 24-year-old man obsessed with money, popularity, haters, and getting even. 6ix9ine fell right back into his favorite role: the upstart who doesn’t conform to street codes, and wins anyway.
“You live your whole life trying to be a real nigga, trying to be a stand up tall, loyal guy,” he spoke on Live to an imagined audience of haters. “To then a rat like me to come home and still do more numbers than you? I would be mad too.”
This has long been one of 6ix9ine’s favorite tropes: he is the “rainbow-haired Mexican kid,” as he so often puts it, who succeeded where other more traditionally-minded rappers failed. And he certainly succeeded, at least when it came to his favorite thing: the amount of people paying attention to him. He was thrilled at the two million simultaneous viewers of the Live, making a whole separate post about it afterwards. And “numbers” was perhaps the most-repeated word of the session. He was doing the numbers “you” aren’t.
But it didn’t take long until 6ix9ine came to address the heart of the matter: his status as CW-2 (for “cooperating witness”) in USA v. Jones et. al. 6ix9ine didn’t deny that he had turned on his former friends. But, he argued, he hadn’t done anything wrong. They’d turned on him first. He laid out his list of wrongs:
“Where was the loyalty when you was sleeping with my baby mother?” he shouted. “Where was the loyalty when you was caught on a wiretap trying to kill me? Where was the loyalty when you tried to kidnap my mother? Where was the loyalty when you was stealing millions of dollars from me? Where was that?” [The “baby mother” accusation, it should be noted, has been denied by both 6ix9ine’s ex Sara Molina, and the rapper’s former manager Kifano “Shotti” Jordan.]
6ix9ine hammered on this theme of loyalty.
“What did I do wrong?” he asked again. “Be loyal to niggas that kidnapped me, beat the shit out of me on video and everything? I’m supposed to be loyal to that?”
There was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dig at Shotti (“When I met son, he was sleeping on a rug.”) But there were no words of inspiration for the youth. No apologies for, or even acknowledgement of, his long history of domestic abuse that became public during the course of the case. No apologies to the victims of the armed robbery he gleefully filmed. Only lists of the wrongs done to him, and why those wrongs render him blameless.
If there’s anything that Friday tells us, it’s that the Tekashi 6ix9ine show—his never-ending reality show of stunts, beefs, and slights—is back in full swing. And we’re all tuning right back in.
For more on 6ix9ine, check out the Complex/Spotify podcast ‘Infamous: The Tekashi 6ix9ine Story,’ narrated by Angie Martinez.