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Tekashi 69 throws the facade into court and is just Daniel Hernandez



Throughout his brief, meteoric career, the rapper known as Tekashi 69 (or 6ix9ine) has devised himself as a recalcitrant adversary, intending to incite conflict for himself. He lures law enforcement agencies with guns and money. He was playing live in bed with some rapper girlfriends.

But on Wednesday at a federal courtroom in Manhattan, the personality of 6ix9ine disappeared. In his place was the attentive, cordial Daniel Hernandez, Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. He was there for a purpose that his alter ego probably never intended: to testify against his former crew, The Nine Wings of the Gangsta

Two former confidants of Mr. Hernandez, including Anthony, are in the process of court. Allison, a supposed high ranking member of the Nine Trey gang, who was once Mr. Hernandez's bodyguard.

Mr. Hernandez's turn as a star witness for the federal government is a staggering turn in his career. For hours on Wednesday, the Instagram star sat at the witness stand and eagerly described the inner workings of the notorious Nine Trey Island Band.

The contrast between the cheeky rapper seen on social media and the man on the stand was awesome. Mr Hernandez was calm, sometimes leaning on the panel, as he walked around the jury throughout the life of the gang.

He hugged Nine Trey in 2017, he said, after the band helped launch their multiplatinum single "GUMMO". The music video for the song – starring Nine Trey members – immediately went viral.

"And I knew the formula was to be repeated," said Mr. Hernandez.

He outlined the hierarchy of Nine Trey in court, listing his leadership by name. He paused often to translate street slang for jurors and described the gang's lengthy attacks, including one case where they raved and attacked another rapper, Trippie Redd.

At one point, Mr. Hernandez listed the gangs of other rappers.

On several occasions, Mr Hernandez imitated the voices of nine members of Trey and made the conversations he had previously had with them. He went to troubled countries so specific – his choice of a jacket during a particular episode of a gang, for example, that prosecutors had to redirect him.

On Wednesday, rapper Meek Mill tweeted that Mr Hernandez was an "Internet gangsta". The rapper Snoop Dogg called him "rat". 6ix9ine, the rebel hero he built remains unclear.

Prosecutors said earlier that he may have to enter the witness protection program. His lawyer claims that the character of 6ix9ine was an act and that his embrace of the life of the band was intended only to accelerate his career.

In court this week, Mr. Hernandez was asked to decipher what appeared to be threatening texts from "GUMMO" aimed at rival Trippie Redd.

"It's a song to, for example, someone I didn't get along with," he said. "I don't know. I thought it was cool at the time."


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