Tekashi 6ix9ine: A Polarizing Figure In Hip-Hop's New Era

BYWyatt Westlake1345 Views
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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 01: Tekashi 6ix9ine attends Made In America - Day 1 on September 1, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/WireImage)
Today, we look into the career of Tekashi 6ix9ine, including his accomplishments, biggest collaborations, and most significant moments.

Tekashi 6ix9ine has been a polarizing figure in hip-hop ever since he started making waves in the scene. With an instantly recognizable image and a controversial reputation, 6ix9ine has been a source of contention for both fans and notable figures in hip-hop. His music is typically aggressive and boisterous in its sound, but the 27-year-old rapper has managed to work with some of the biggest names in the rap game. Aside from music, 6ix9ine’s appearance sets him apart from others -- his long rainbow-colored hair, many tattoos, and rainbow grills. 

Tekashi 6ix9ine is no stranger to controversy, racking up a host of legal troubles and engaging in various beefs. He has managed to use his contentious reputation to his advantage, gathering clicks and views for his music. His viral moments have helped maintain his relevance and avoid many attempts at cancellation. The hip-hop community is quite critical of Tekashi 6ix9ine and still appears to be as his recent single with Kodak Black was met with pushback. Today, we look into the career of Tekashi 6ix9ine, including his accomplishments, biggest collaborations, and most significant moments.

6ix9ine's Beginnings

Born and raised in New York City, Tekashi 6ix9ine got his stage name from an affinity for Japanese anime. The “69” represents both the sex position and the Chinese yin-yang. One of Tekashi 6ix9ine’s earliest collaborations was with Pro Era members Dirty Sanchez and JAB. He also briefly appeared in the music video for Nyck Caution’s “Church” back in 2016.

6ix9ine’s breakout single, “Gummo” was released in 2017, later featuring Offset on the remix. The song captivated the world of hip-hop through Pi'erre Bourne's brash production and 6ix9ine's distinctive vocal prowess. It served as the lead single to his commercial mixtape, Day69, which eventually went 2x platinum. “Gummo” was 6ix9ine’s first viral track, laying the foundation for a fruitful run throughout 2018.

Commercial Peak

Tekashi 6ix9ine reached his commercial peak in 2018, releasing Day69 in February. He remained active throughout the year, dropping his biggest hits to date. His most notable release that year was “Fefe,” a collaboration with Nicki Minaj produced by Murda Beatz. The song peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and now sits at 8x platinum status, not to mention its multiple gold and platinum certifications worldwide. He also dropped major hits like “Bebe” featuring Anuel AA and “Stoopid” with Bobby Shmurda. By November 2018, 6ix9ine could be seen everywhere. He released his debut studio album, Dummy Boy which included the aforementioned singles. The album went platinum despite an almost universally negative reception. After his most prolific year yet, Tekashi 6ix9ine’s actions and legal charges caught up to him by the start of 2019.

Tekashi 6ix9ine At His Most Polarizing

Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/WireImage)

Aside from his music, Tekashi 6ix9ine has been a polarizing figure in hip-hop due to his controversial past of various legal issues. His previous charges include child sexual performance, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Between his previous run-ins with the law and his misconduct, the case that put Tekashi 6ix9ine’s legal issues on full display was his RICO trial. In 2018, he and his affiliates were charged with racketeering as members of the Nine Trey Gang, including conspiracy to murder and weapons charges.

Originally pleading not guilty, 6ix9ine eventually cooperated with prosecutors and struck a plea deal to reduce his potential sentence if he testified against the Nine Trey Gang. His testimony against the members of his gang earned him the label of a “snitch” within the hip-hop world. As a part of his plea agreement, Tekashi 6ix9ine spent time in prison between 2019 and 2020. Documentaries on Hulu and Showtime have chronicled the high-profile trial.

Inside and outside of the courtroom, 6ix9ine divisiveness has turned him into one of the most infamous figures in hip-hop history. Beyond legal battles, he has engaged in feuds with other rappers and figures in hip-hop. 6ix9ine notably beefed with Meek Mill, Future, Lil Durk, Chief Keef, former collaborator Anuel AA, and others. Many of these disputes stemmed from rappers condemning his history of domestic abuse and sexual assault, while the majority of others took issue with his plea deal. These perceptions have stuck with 6ix9ine as listeners and artists recently took issue with his new collaboration with Kodak Black. Even though he has been polarizing in both hip hop and the legal system, Tekashi 6ix9ine has harnessed his controversial history, creating viral moments out of it. 

He Has Recently Pivoted Musically

Several years removed from his RICO case and time in prison, Tekashi 6ix9ine hasn't necessarily been fully committed to his music career. He's released a handful of singles that have failed to resonate with audiences, compared to his previous efforts. However, in his recent efforts, he has pivoted away from hip hop and fully embraced reggaeton. A Spanish speaker of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, he has rapped in the language before on songs like “Bebe” and “Mala.” With his latest album, Leyenda Viva, Tekashi 6ix9ine fully committed to reggaeton, marking a new era for his career.

Known more for his antics and discernable appearance, 6ix9ine has managed to thrive in hip-hop and venture outside of the genre. His controversies have certainly impacted his career, but his polarizing persona has only allowed him to grow in popularity and maintain a following.

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About The Author
Wyatt Westlake is a writer from Somerville, MA. He has been writing about hip hop, RnB, and beyond for almost a decade, joining the HNHH team in 2023. Majoring in Communication Studies, he is currently finishing his BA at Temple University. Wyatt is also a radio presenter, hosting his own shows and curating eclectic playlists since 2019. An avid concert-goer, one all-time moment for him was when Dave brought him onstage to perform “Thiago Silva” in front of a sold-out crowd.