In the spring of 2018, Tekashi 6ix9ine’s trip to Texas turned into a total shitshow. He was about to headline the unofficial WorldStarHipHop showcase during South by Southwest—and make good money while doing it. But instead, he had angry members of his crew staring him down from the audience, and about 50 guys standing onstage, ready to take his head off the second he showed his face. 

Wild, dangerous scenes like this weren’t new territory for the young rapper. Since 6ix9ine released his breakout hit, “Gummo,” the previous October, his career had been a series of provocations, stunts, and online trolls—and he’d ridden the wave all the way to the top. Every song he’d released since “Gummo” hit the Billboard Hot 100. His videos had accumulated hundreds of millions of views, he had millions of Instagram followers, and he’d already survived controversy involving him, a 13-year-old girl, and Instagram videos, which had threatened to end his career right as he was starting to break out. 

He seemed invincible, especially since he had the support of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods and the gang’s “big homie,” Kifano “Shotti” Jordan. But that invincibility didn’t follow 6ix9ine to Texas when he headed there in March 2018 to perform at a few events around SXSW. 

He’d gotten into it with J. Prince Jr., son of the legendary and feared founder of Rap-A-Lot Records. Prince Jr. and his brother Baby Jay had denied 6ix9ine and Shotti entry to a party they were throwing. They were upset that 6ix9ine didn’t bother to “check in” with them or their powerful dad. But the rapper, despite knowing how important checking in was, didn’t check in for anybody, anywhere.

6ix9ine being turned away from the party made headlines, because J. Prince Jr. recounted the whole thing on Instagram and included video evidence. That angered one of the members of Nine Trey. Anthony “Harv” Ellison already didn’t like Shotti—6ix9ine’s closest associate and his protector in the gang. According to text messages, which would later become evidence in court, it was clear Harv thought Shotti was a loudmouth who didn’t back up his tough talk with action. And Harv was suspicious of this rainbow-haired kid acting like a gangster. 

In a group text four days after the party, everyone talked it out. The group included Harv, 6ix9ine, and Shotti. There was also Seqo Billy, who had introduced 6ix9ine to everyone in the first place. There were 6ix9ine’s buddies Trife Drew and William Asher, who everyone called Justin. There was Billy Ado, another Nine Trey member who was becoming disenchanted. And there was 6ix9ine’s manager Chris Ehigiator, who was lifelong friends with Seqo.

“Niggas got violated in Houston?” Chris jokingly texted to the crew.

“Na,” 6ix9ine responded. “We went to this party and niggas asked us to leave because we didn’t check in wit j prince.”

Harv wasn’t in the mood to joke around about this, and he found an opportunity to insult Shotti. “Why didn’t niggas shake no barricades and scream they the mafia,” he asked, a reference to Shotti’s often belligerent behavior at strip clubs in NYC. 

“They didn’t do nothin tho,” 6ix9ine continued. He didn’t see why Harv was so worked up. 

But to Harv, it was a matter of pride. “Gangsters don’t pick and choose there [sic] beef,” he wrote. “Same way you are at [Club] lust should be the same way you are everywhere.”

“Then you woulda been [on] worldstar with mad knots on ya forehead,” 6ix9ine hit back. 

Harv wasn’t impressed by this logic. “You sound pussy,” he wrote. “Knots. I have bullet wholes [sic] in me. Nigga said knots.” 

As the text conversation went on, 6ix9ine got more defensive, and Harv got more threatening. “That’s what stop niggas from being the mob is knots,” Harv wrote. 

6ix9ine was overwhelmed. “I thought I had to deal with this shit on the internet,” he wrote. “Not wit my niggas.”

“This not your life you wouldn’t understand,” Harv wrote to 6ix9ine.