New Showtime series examines Tekashi 6ix9ine’s sudden rise to fame and infamy


Or is it Tekashi Snitch 9ine?

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.

“Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine” is a documentary series that profiles the hip-hop artist Tekashi 6ix9ine’s epic rise to notoriety and spectacular fall to convicted criminal. He came on the scene in 2012 and more prominently in late 2017. He was in court facing life in prison in the fall of 2019 on charges of racketeering, weapons possession, assault with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy murder.

New episodes will debut on-air every Sunday through March 7, while the entire series will release for on-demand streaming or download on Showtime and across all Showtime partner platforms on February 21.

In the three-part series, director Karam Gill (Ice Cold, G-Funk) examines manufactured celebrity through the lens of 24-year-old 6ix9ine’s controversial artistry, personal demons, and mastery of social media, as a reflection of our times and the complicity of culture today.

“Supervillain” will trace how New York City deli clerk Daniel Hernandez manufactured himself into viral hip hop sensation Tekashi 6ix9ine, the ruthless, tattooed face of Gen Z and hip hop’s prince of trolls. Based on Witt’s Rolling Stone feature, “Tekashi 6ix9ine: The Rise and Fall of a Hip-Hop Supervillain,” the series features an exclusive post-prison interview with 6ix9ine following his release in March, 2020.

Through the narrative spine of Tekashi 6ix9ine’s controversial artistry and personal demons, this bizarre and complicated story is in many ways the truest reflection of current times as it unpacks the life-shattering results of influence, impact of social media and the disturbing possibilities of a deeply connected world.

This documentary is fascinating, even though I hadn’t been interested in Tekashi 6ix9ine. His rise as a celebrity was based on eccentric YouTube videos that he posted and used to garner fan support. He also uploaded his music and his colorful clothing line that appealed to many. His head became big, and he thought he was all that. And the millions of clicks that he received from content that bordered on porn, as far as I’m concerned, increased his popularity.

Afterward, he felt that he could gain an even larger following by ingratiating himself into the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, or TreyWay, in New York. He was accepted, and I believe he may have been paying them for protection, because he would regularly pick beefs with other rappers—rappers who had established themselves as rappers and not as a “side show,” in my opinion.

His association with this New York gang lends itself to criminal acts that were posted on social media, as well. Or in some cases, the trouble followed Tekashi 6ix9ine, at Madison Square Garden, the Los Angeles Airport and during the 2018 Superbowl game in Minneapolis. After a while, he found himself a subject of interest to the FBI, after the FBI had been looking into the workings of the gang. At one time, he was angered when he thought his girlfriend, whom he beat mercilessly in a hotel room overseas, was sleeping around with one of his associates. Eventually, he fired all his crew and dogged them on social media. In due time, he was brought up on gun charges, even though he had previously reportedly pled guilty on child-sex charges (again something that was discovered through one of his outlandish videos).

When the gun charges hit, he leveraged his freedom from 47 years to life in prison by snitching on gang members and rappers, alike. It was a closely watched trial, and he eventually was released, but 11 gang members were convicted of various charges and sentenced to between three and 24 years.

The documentary uses chemical and biological diagrams to highlight the stages of a supervillain: notoriety paranoia, resilience, propaganda, weapons and ego. The rapper was so obsessed with being the bad guy; he thought he could be as big as Suge Knight, and when he was trolling his so-called rapper enemies, he said, “I don’t know how more disrespectful I can be.”

For a man who proclaimed on a New York morning radio program, while trying to clean up his image before his court date, “I fear God and the FBI,” he’s also now known by some in the rap world “disrespectfully” as “Tekashi Snitch 9ine.”

The series is narrated by Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul” and “The Mandalorian”). “Supervillain” is produced by Imagine Documentaries, Rolling Stone and Lightbox. Brian Grazer executive produces with Justin Wilkes and Sara Bernstein of Imagine Documentaries, Gus Wenner of Rolling Stone, Jonathan Chinn and Simon Chinn of Lightbox, journalist Stephen Witt and Peter J. Scalettar.

Check out the trailer:

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