In the span of five months, Tekashi 6ix9ine went from rotting in prison to having a song on the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Now, he’s releasing a brand new album. The man born Daniel Hernandez, who many think is the biggest “snitch” in hip-hop today, leaned into the “rat” label even more on Sept. 4 with Tattle Tales. Fitting for an album with such a name, Tekashi laid out his heart about his prison sentence — which came after agreeing to a plea deal that required him to “tattle” on his former peers — in “LOCKED UP 2.” As an added surprise, hip-hop legend Akon joined the song.
The track was unlike most of Tekashi’s fired-up, in-your-face tracks, as he lamented over being trapped behind bars. He even gave his four-year-old daughter, Saraiyah Hernandez, a shout-out: “Thinkin’ ’bout the things that I did / Got me thinkin’ like, “Why the f–k I did that?” / Got me wishin’ that I could take it all back / Fighting with these demons, barely even eatin’ / Barely even sleepin’, this shit got me tweakin’ / Fighting with my lawyers for a better offer / Just wanna see my daughter.”
Fans were wondering if Akon was seriously going to collab with the controversial rapper, so it was quite the surprise to see the “Lonely” rapper hop on for two tracks on this album. He teams up with Tekashi yet again for “LEAH,” a much more party-friendly track than “LOCKED UP 2,” which samples DJ Sammy’s 2002 banger “Heaven” in the chorus. There were mixed reactions among fans over these collaborations, spanning from tweets like “Who would’ve thought Akon would be featured twice on a Tekashi album…” to “Omg this tekashi and akon joint goes stupiddddd hardddd !!!!”
Though 6ix9ine has celebrated his title of “snitch” since he testified against his former associates in the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang, he wasn’t that forthcoming with the details about his new album. He announced Tattle Tales on Aug. 26. The four singles he released since leaving prison – “GOOBA,” “PUNANI,” “YAYA” and his chart-topping collab with Nicki Minaj, “TROLLZ” – were among the tracklisting, but 6ix9ine didn’t share the nine other song’s titles, or if there were any more features on the record.
This secrecy might be a clever statement on everyone faulting Tekashi for snitching – when we want him to share information, he buttons his lip – but it may hurt his chances of topping the Billboard album chart. The lack of hype – save for those who are going to listen in to see what Tekashi says next – might mean a low number of pre-save/pre-sales. The other big release this week is Detroit 2 from Big Sean, and that album features appearances from Travis Scott, Anderson .Paak, Wale, Diddy, Lil Wayne, Erykah Badu, Dave Chappelle, and Jhene Aiko. Plus, Taylor Swift’s folklore is nesting at the top of the Billboard 200. Dethroning the new cottagecore queen would be quite the task for Tekahsi, even without having to go head-to-head with a well-established rapper with an album full of stars.
Though Tekashi has adopted the rat” persona – to the point that he named his album after tattling – he justified cooperating with the feds to help convict his former associates in the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang. “I really want this to hit home,” he said when giving his first post-prison interview with The New York Times. “When I was kidnapped, was I a victim? Did I cooperate? No. When they were stealing money from shows, did I cooperate? No. Did I have many chances to tell the police what I saw? Yes. I was following a street code that was upheld by me and that I thought was real. Before I broke the street code, how many times was it broken to me?”
Tekashi admitted that he didn’t regret getting involved with the gang, saying that he hooked up with the Bloods because he wanted “credibility.” The gang image got more eyes on him, and 6ix9ine said it benefited his career. “I was killing the European market,” he told the Times. “But when you’re a kid from New York, you don’t want to be the kid that is only being played in Slovakia. I want to go outside in New York and hear my music.”
Though he’s equally loved and hated – though, there are days when he seems more despised than anything – Tekashi remains defiant. He told the Times that he would “never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever regret the lessons I learned in life, because they made me into an animal, made me into a beast. I can go through anything.” However, he did acknowledge that he’s afraid of dying and employs a security team anywhere from eight to twenty-two people at a time.