The biggest performance of Tekashi69's life begins this week.
The Brooklyn rapper is expected to tell jurors his rowdy music videos provide real evidence of Nine Trey Bloods mayhem by him and his fellow gang members. He’ll detail Nine Trey shootings, drug deals and robberies as a government witness testifying against accused gangsters Anthony “Harv” Ellison and Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack.
The trial begins Monday with jury selection. Tekashi could be on the stand as soon as Tuesday.
Ellison is accused of kidnapping Tekashi in July 2018 as the rapper’s ties to the gang began to fray. Mack is charged with narcotics trafficking and racketeering. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Tekashi pleaded guilty to racketeering charges carrying a minimum of 47 years in prison and began cooperating with the government soon after being arrested in November with other accused gang members.
But a source close to Tekashi’s legal team argued the Bushwick-born rapper wasn’t betraying Nine Trey Bloods.
“It’s not like he ratted out on his homeboys he knew since he was 3 years old,” the source said. “He barely knew them.”
Tekashi, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, says he met some key figures in the gang during filming of the music video for his first hit single, “GUMMO,” in 2017, just as his career took off.
Tekashi has been held in an undisclosed location since his arrest. He hopes his cooperation will result in a lenient sentence.
The source predicted that Tekashi will get time-served, in part because he’s been held in isolation for nearly a year. His cooperation was revealed early in the case, which the source said was unusual.
Prosecutors say the trash-talking rapper had a mutually beneficial relationship with the Nine Trey Bloods. His boasts in hit songs and on social media about sex, drugs, murder and money gave him authenticity. His success — his album “Dummy Boy” debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200 — provided revenue to fuel the gang’s racketeering operation.
That makes Tekashi’s music videos key evidence in the case.
“The videos are relevant to tell the story of (Tekashi’s) involvement in Nine Trey,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Longyear has written in legal papers.
The money-making arrangement with the gang fell apart in late 2018, shortly before he and 11 other alleged Nine Trey members were arrested.
But Tekashi’s swaggering public persona will also provide fodder for the defense. Ellison’s attorney Deveraux Cannick says the rapper’s always-on social media presence reveals he’s a liar.
“Tekashi has mastered the art of marketing, trolling and for lack of a better word, fabricating,” Cannick told reporters in July. “The defense here is that Tekashi knows how to market. He has a history of selling himself and his albums.”