Snitching Turns Hip Hop Culture on its Own Head with the Unraveling of Tekashi 69
By Steven X
With the origins of Hip-Hop being connected and paralleled to the culture of the streets there are levels of integrity that must be upheld at all times. Regardless of who the individual is that is participating in the culture, we as an audience demand that the artist move and live with honesty and transparency that ties in with one of the original principles that spurred the culture from the beginning “Word is Bond”. This simple phrase is an integral part of Hip-Hop, because the artist who projects the image of living a streetwise lifestyle are revered and coveted by their peers and fans alike based off the era in which they began their careers. While being affiliated with gangsters as an artist, the emcee often feels pressure to emulate their peers in an effort to validate themselves in Hip-Hop.
A cardinal rule that exists in gang life crimes, regardless of its time period, is that if someone is caught, interrogated and accused of committing any crime they do not incriminate anyone else from the group they are apart of. The logic behind this principle is that the operations of the gang can continue and others can avoid facing incarceration thus disrupting the livelihood of the families connected to the gang members. Even with this concept existing there are still instances throughout time that have shown people choosing to incriminate others who were considered allies for their own safety and protection. The person who divulges the information (aka. Snitches) does so to gain exemption and protection from charges that are placed on them personally.
In the past year of Hip-Hop there has been no rapper that has been labeled a snitch more than New York native Tekashi 69. 69 is currently facing trial and can face a maximum sentence of life in prison due to his affiliations with the Nine Trey Bloods. What makes this situation offensive and disrespectful in the eyes of so many who are artists with gang ties is that Tekashi is not a person who actually comes from real gang culture. 69 leveraged his ties with the Nine Trey in order to fund and advance his career to great heights by glorifying the life led by real gang members he was involved with. However, due to his inexperience and ignorance 69 was apprehended by Federal prosecutors in late 2018 and was charged with crimes such as theft, extortion and racketeering but was offered a lesser sentence if he was willing to give names of members involved with the Nine Trey Bloods. With a shady history between 69 and Trey Nine that includes a kidnapping of Tekashi as well as other bad business dealings in the music management of 69’s catalogue; the rapper had 0 reservations in giving the names of known affiliates to reduce his own sentencing. The name-dropping became distasteful by Tekashi when he began to give out names of artists who were not affiliated with his personal issues including Jim Jones and Cardi B.
At this point many consider 69 an example of why people should ultimately stay true to who they really are in terms of living a street life influenced by gang culture. The argument that exists against 69 being in this predicament now is that he would not be the center of so much turmoil and conflict if he had not aligned himself with a group like the Trey Nine Bloods knowing he was not from that gang culture himself. Now because of his lack of integrity and carelessness in who he has made connections with, Tekashi has potentially jeopardized the livelihood of many different people outside of himself. While there are many people who can potentially receive blame for the trial Tekashi is currently facing, 69 shoulders most of the blame because he chose to embody an artist image and lifestyle that he was not truly apart of.
Ultimately, this should be viewed as a tale of caution for artists who try to use gimmicks to portray a life they are not apart of. There are very real consequences for claiming affiliations with real gangs that can include serious jail time if you face criminal accusations while being involved in any dealings with gang members. In addition to facing time in prison also know that the same gang members that you choose to be around will also seek retaliation should you choose to flip and become an informant for Federal Law Enforcement. If unprepared and uninformed, an artist can risk losing everything they work for by trying to show themselves as something they are not and consequently affect so many other happenings around them.
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