Hiphop Singer on Stage

Rapper Tekashi69’s Testimony Reveals how Music Industry is Intertwined with Gang Culture

Rapper Tekashi69 — the stage name for Danny Hernandez — shattered the informal code of silence typical of celebrity defendants and spoke about gang ties in the entertainment industry during a court appearance in New York City last month.

In testimony against two alleged members of Nine Trey, an East Coast wing of the United Blood Nation street gang, the 23-year-old platinum-selling rapper detailed a life of “robberies, assaults [and] drugs,” leading to the conviction of the duo on racketeering conspiracy and other charges.

The eccentric rapper’s testimony revealed that the same gang-world affiliation that helped boost his brand also came at a cost. Hernandez told jurors he joined the notorious gang, not only to earn credibility, but in part to aid his career in the limelight — even confessing to paying a fellow member to shoot at a rival rapper in New York City last summer.

Shortly after the shooting, Hernandez himself was a target, getting kidnapped in Brooklyn – and escaping only after turning over hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and claiming not to be part of Nine Trey. Hernandez testified during the trial last week that the pair of defendants were his captors. He said the two allegedly viewed him as a “poser” and not an authentic gangster. Hernandez, too, was charged with racketeering, gun and drug charges but cooperated with federal authorities.


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