It’s no secret that Tekashi 6ix9ine has become the most famous snitch in pop culture since Salvatore “Sammy The Bull” Gravano flipped on John Gotti and the Gambino crime family back in the late 90’s. With countless memes having been made comedically highlighting his dime dropping ways, Tekashi’s name has become synonymous with snitching across the Hip-Hop world with little to no sympathy for the troll turned government informant.
But what will become of the rainbow-haired rapper once he gets out of prison and presumably thrown into the witness protection program? Will he still have a career in rap? Would artists and producers be willing to work with him as he walks around with that bright as his hair scarlet “S” on his person? Could he even live a normal life in the age of social media? The New York Times recently published a piece exploring what could await Daniel Hernandez once he gets out of prison and possibly leaves his Tekashi 6ix9ine days behind him.
Minya Oh, best known as Miss Info, the founder of the hip-hop news website MissInfo.tv and a former host on the rap radio station Hot 97 in New York, called the 6ix9ine saga a “Greek telenovela tragicomedy,” and predicted that he would face a complex conundrum upon being released: curiosity would be at an all-time high, but within the hip-hop community, so would animus.
“In the attention economy, just knowing that 6ix9ine might open his mouth somewhere is like shipping platinum,” she said. “But nobody with any of their own value will ever stand next to him. So he has to exist in a vacuum and can’t leave his house. All doable things for an artist in 2019 and beyond.”
Labels would be reticent to allow their artists to work with him, Ms. Oh added, “But they all think when he gets out of jail, he will be a big draw.”
But at what cost to the reputation of the label or the artist they pair with Hip-Hop’s “Henry Hill”? Should Tekashi try and find that there is no path for him to get back into the rap game on the monumental scale he was at the height of his pre-snitch career, he can always go about the life of an everyday civilian getting by on a 9 to 5.
Such a path would not be unprecedented. The government has successfully relocated and protected high-profile witnesses in the past; mobsters have started over as bakery owners, and reformed assassins have found new careers as doll salesmen, two former federal law enforcement officials said.
“Despite how connected we are, and the appetite for social media content in this country, there are places where, if this kid gets a haircut and wears normal clothes, no one would know or care who he is,” said Jay Kramer, a former F.B.I. official who worked on organized crime cases.
He might have to come out of pocket to get rid of his very recognizable face tattoos though as it doesn’t seem like the US is going to be coming out of pocket for cosmetic purposes.
There is almost nothing in Mr. Hernandez’s background that suggests a capacity for discretion, and it is unlikely the United States Marshals Service, which runs the witness protection program, would pay for the removal of Mr. Hernandez’s signature face tattoos.
If Tekashi decides to keep his facial features intact he might as well be signing his own death warrant because that alone is that visible scarlet letter that the world has become familiar with.