Tekashi 6ix9ine was sentenced to 24 months in prison with five years of supervised release for racketeering and firearms charges in a Manhattan courtroom Wednesday. The rapper, born Daniel Hernandez, has already served 13 months of the sentence and is expected to be released in late 2020.
His biological father was reportedly present at his sentencing hearing. The pair have not met since Hernandez was nine years old. “The last time I seen my biological father, I was in third grade. I take one look in the audience and I see my biological father," Hernandez told press following the hearing.
Hernandez also took the time to apologize for his actions while involved with Nine Trey, an East Coast street gang affiliated with the larger Bloods gang, offering to pay medical bills to a woman who made a last minute testimony about how she was caught in the crossfires and ended up shot in the foot.
But the biggest surprise of the day was still his sentencing, as his crimes carried a minimum sentence of 47 years in prison. Some speculated he may walk free Wednesday, while others suggested he might even end up with a life sentence despite his plea deals and a high-profile trial that began nearly a year ago, filled with assassination threats and tears.
But who is the heavily-tattooed man, what is he famous for and why has the case gained so much attention? InsideEdition.com explains.
Who is Tekashi 6ix9ine?
Hernandez is a 23-year-old rapper born and raised in Brookyln. He is known for his colorful hair and extensive tattoos, one of which includes his moniker on his face. Although after spending some time in prison, it appears his signature locks are beginning to fade.
6ix9ine began his rise to fame in 2017, when he was just 20 years old, for his single “Gummo,” which quickly rose on the Billboard Hot 100. He continued to release hit after hit, including "BEBE," "KIKA" and "FEFE" with Nicki Minaj, solidifying his signature aggressive rapping style.
When did the legal problems begin?
Federal agents first arrested Hernandez in November 2018 on racketeering and firearms charges, along with other members of Nine Trey, a gang Hernandez later admitted he was a part of since 2017.
The gang was responsible for "shooting people, robbing people and, at times, drug trafficking," the documents said, and was active for at least the last six years, according to CBS News. “[The Nine Trey gang] wreaked havoc on New York City, engaging in brazen acts of violence," said Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Hernandez originally maintained his innocence with a trial date set for September 2019. He continued to enjoy fame beyond the bars, with his song “FEFE” featuring Nicki Minaj rising in the charts and fans continuing to rally for his early release and even suggesting they would break him out of the Brooklyn jail.
This comes separate to a 2015 case, in which he was sentenced to four years’ probation for sexual misconduct involving a 13-year-old girl. Hernandez admitted to “using a 13-year-old in a sexual performance” but avoided jail time and the sex-offender registry.
Why did he change his plea to guilty?
Hernandez, who admitted he joined the gang to further his musical career, pleaded guilty to nine federal counts related to racketeering, drug charges and gun charges in January 2019 after prosecutors revealed his former associates may have been planning a hit. “Certain high-ranking members of the Bloods had authorized violence,” investigators alleged.
He also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in hopes of receiving a lessened sentence. The charges he pleaded guilty to carried a minimum sentence of 47 years, but prosecutors agreed to file paperwork to move for a sentence “below mandatory minimum.”
“It is understood that the defendant’s cooperation is likely to reveal the activities of individuals,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Longyear.
Whether fans will continue to support him then is unclear, with many quickly dropping their support for him once he revealed he would cooperate with officials.
Why was he labeled a "snitch"?
When Hernandez took the stand, dropping his aggressive rapper persona, he didn’t hesitate to give the inside dirt on anything and anyone he could think of – from identifying every single gang member that appeared in his music videos to pointing out who taught him to make the gang signs and do the Nine Trey handshake. He ended up meeting with federal agents 26 times during his imprisonment.
Quickly, the hashtag #Tekashisnitch9 took off, with internet jokesters and former fans alike coming up with their own memes and one-liners about Hernandez taking the stand.
Even Snoop Dogg, the rapper behind “Gin and Juice” and was caught up in his own murder trial in the 1990s, for which he was acquitted, added fuel to the claims. He came out on Instagram calling Hernandez a “S.N.I.T.C.H.” and “a rat & a goon.”
Who did he "snitch" on?
The jury found Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack and Anthony “Harv” Ellison guilty of multiple crimes following a two-week trial during which Hernandez detailed assaults, robberies, and drug crimes. Ellison was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy and kidnapping Hernandez despite once working as his bodyguard and Mack was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute drugs. Several additional members of the Nine Trey gang have either been convicted or pleaded guilty in the weeks following.
Hernandez gave prosecutors a look into the inner workings of the Nine Trey gang, and also went on to allege other musicians of taking part in gang activities during his testimony, including Bronx-based Cardi B.
A representative from her label Atlantic Records denied the claim that she was ever in the gang in an interview to Billboard, saying simply, "that is not true."
Hernandez will serve out the rest of his sentence in prison and be ordered to serve 300 hours of community service and pay a $35,000 fine upon release.
Even though Hernandez will be released in 2020, after having already serving 13 months of his sentence, Judge Paul Englemayer didn't seem concerned he would continue with his violent behavior.
“There is no danger that any gang will want to partner up with you,” Englemayer joked, referencing his accusations during the trial.
Despite prosecutors recommending the witness protection program, Hernandez reportedly rejected it with the hopes of restarting his musical career, TMZ reported in September. He reportedly signed a $10 million record deal in October with his old label, 10K Projects, to produce an album in English and an album in Spanish.