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Recently, Brooklyn rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was arrested and is now facing federal charges of racketeering. He could also face life in prison. Racketeering is a part of a bigger charge of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO). RICO is organized crime and encompasses a variety of other crimes within one charge. Some crimes included within RICO is kidnapping, homicide, extortion, and witness tampering. RICO as a charge was established to target the mafia’s criminal tendencies. Unlike the mafia, the one thing sadly involved in Tekashi 6ix9ine’s operations is clout chasing. A clout chaser could be defined as someone who associates themselves with certain people to gain popularity.

Now, while I will say I have consumed 6ix9ine’s work and find some of his music to be really good at getting me through my weekly workouts, as far as the actual substance of his work, there is none. And sure, people can make the argument that not all hip-hop has to have substance — that some music is just for fun and should be treated as such — what those same people forget is that 6ix9ine uses the same voice inflections and even steals flows from other rappers. How could the “King of New York” be someone whose identity as an artist is someone who screams the way other people rhyme?

Besides being known for having multiple charges within the legal system and screaming on all of his songs, 6ix9ine is also known for accusing people of clout chasing. With all of the beefs he has had with other hip-hop artists and personalities, such as YG and Ebro Darden, at the root of them is clout chasing. 6ix9ine feels that the reason many of those people made negative comments about his career is that they don’t like that he is succeeding, and that they envy him. And while that could be the truth for most of these situations, one undeniable realization about 6ix9ine’s story is that in reality, he might be the biggest clout chaser in hip-hop currently.

As stated earlier, 6ix9ine has compiled numerous charges, with his racketeering charge offering him the greatest number of years possible in prison. There is no proof currently that he has played a part in any of the operations by the Nine Tr3y Gangsters, but what drew 6ix9ine into this case was his affiliation. Kifano “Shotti” Jordan, 6ix9ine’s former manager who is also on trial, is a member of the Nine Tr3y Gangsters. 6ix9ine is also documented in videos — such as his breakout hit “Gummo” and the Billboard-charting “Kooda” — wearing red bandanas and all-red clothing. Sure, this could be because he likes the color red, but that is not the case. 6ix9ine used to claim that he was a member of the Nine Tr3y Bloods. This is where his clout chasing began. Prior to receiving his sentence, 6ix9ine had denounced his affiliation with the Nine Tr3y Bloods during an interview with the Breakfast Club, in which he stated that Tr3way doesn’t actually exist and that it was something he created. Yet, Tr3way is the nickname for the Nine Tr3y Gangsters. Why would he state this during his interview?

It is because he is finally understanding that his affiliation has gone too far. This affiliation had led him to a path he cannot come back from. See, by maintaining his affiliation with the Nine Tr3y Bloods, Tekashi 6ix9ine would be able to use the image of a gang member to promote his music. Now within hip-hop, one archetype that can be found in many artists is the thug archetype. Tekashi 6ix9ine was trying to portray that archetype to gain popularity, even though he never really lived that life. This can be dangerous due to his fan base. Tekashi’s fan base is made up of mostly very young and impressionable minds. If they view this image and Tekashi’s actions, they will normalize these things and think it is OK to do what he did. But it isn’t. Claiming a gang you do not belong to is not safe. Trolling people on the internet as Tekashi did is not safe. If we should learn anything from Tekashi facing 32 years to life in prison, it’s that while it may seem fun, clout chasing can lead to real consequences. But I guess, in the words of Shotti, “We don’t fold, we don’t bend, we don’t break, it’s Tr3way,” right?