The story of Tekashi 6ix9ine is complicated to say the least. The rapper, nee Daniel Hernandez, infiltrated the world of hip hop by becoming the clown prince of rap. He used his polarizing personality (and ability to troll other artists) to become a constant topic of conversation. However, 6ix9ine’s rise was interrupted when he was arrested for extortion, guns and drugs for belonging to the Nine Trey Gangster Bloods in 2018.
6ix9ine’s subsequent escape from life imprisonment (in part by spying on his Nine Trey gang members) is a story as chaotic as his rap career, and trying to figure it all out is a daunting task. This is where Shawn Setaro comes in. The journalist, podcaster and author of the new book, Complex presents Dummy Boy: Tekashi 6ix9ine and The Nine Trey Gangsta BloodsHe started covering the rapper long before blackmail charges were brought against him. Although he’s never written a book, Setaro says Dummy boy was born out of the realization that after covering 6ix9ine extensively through editorial articles and its podcast, Notorious: The Story of Tekashi 6ix9ine, the next logical step was to put all this information together in one coherent story.
“I didn’t even really think about a book until I was approached by William LoTurco, who is now my agent,” he says. “He hit me during the trial. He said, “I’ve seen your coverage and I think there is something to it. I think we could do a book. ‘ And I was intimidated, but I thought, ‘You know what, for whatever combination of reasons, I know this material better than anyone in the world. If I ever write a first book, that’s what it’s going to be about. And if someone else does, I get mad, so just let me try and see how it goes. ‘”
Dummy boy recaps the New York rapper’s rise and fall by reporting firsthand his courtroom extortion case and interviewing 6ix9ines producers, friends, Nine Trey partners, and more. However, the story goes far deeper than just the case and social media buzz, including numerous domestic abuse allegations and a 2015 case in which the rapper pleaded guilty to using a child in a sexual act.
At this point, everyone has an opinion on 6ix9ine, but Setaro has tried to tell the story as objectively as possible. He was focusing on the facts rather than adding too many of his own personal thoughts (although he admits that there are “small excesses that may make it clear how I think about some things”).
For Setaro, the 6ix9ine career arc represents much bigger trends in today’s society, which is what makes the whole thing so compelling. “I think it’s honestly the hip-hop story of the decade,” he says of the rise and fall of 6ix9ine. “I just don’t know what else can be compared with it in terms of size and how we live now and how we all stand in this attention economy. Tekashi is the ultimate example of this, but we’re all guilty of needing the oxytocin kick when we pick up our phone. “Did enough people like my funny observation on Twitter? Have enough people bought my book? ‘ We’re all trapped in it, so this really is an example of the real cost of this attention economy. “
Now 6ix9ine has disappeared again and his Instagram account has not been active since May 2021. So the question is the same as always: what does Tekashi 6ix9ine do next? With Dummy boy Now available, we spoke to Shawn Setaro to get that response, discuss some of the most intense moments in the courtroom during the 6ix9ine blackmail case, the process of writing the book, and more.