The name 6ix9ine alone makes people cringe. Either you know his music and persona, or you just saw the name “6ix9ine” and wondered who’d want to call himself that. If you do know him, you’d know he’s a “rapper,” social media star, and recent inmate. You’re also going to be hearing the name a lot more now that he has most streamed song in America.
At the beginning of April, 6ix9ine AKA Daniel Hernandez was released from prison early due to the spread of COVID-19 in the prison systems. Hernandez, how has asthma, was considered to be at high risk . Combined with his status as a “model inmate,” he was permitted to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest. He’s monitored with an ankle bracelet, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting out new music.
Once out of jail, he wasted no time making new music. Loud, aggressive music where he screams at all of his haters. What did he call the masterpiece? GOOBA. If the name confuses you, I can’t say I blame you. 6ix9ine has a history of fusing two syllables together and assigning it as a song title. Case and point: GUMMO, FEFE, BEBE, KOODA, KEKE, the list goes on. This particular title is especially random because Genius can’t even explain its meaning.
If his popularity doesn’t make sense, then you’re not in the right audience. 6ix9ine is a king on social media, and if you don’t understand this, he doesn’t care. He’s playing to a specific audience and he’s doing it so well that a scandal that could have killed him catapulted him to success.
Why 6ix9ine Should Have Failed
GOOBA is the first single since the 2018 album “Dummy Boy.” The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 Album chart, went platinum, and was led by the 8x platinum song FEFE which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Looking at the numbers, it shouldn’t be a surprise GOOBA was met with popularity.
When you look at 6ix9ine’s personal life, his career was in limbo. He has a long record of legal charges, but certain charges can benefit a rapper. Prior to his rap career, Hernandez was arrested and charged with crimes related to drug dealing. While in prison, he associated himself with the Nine Trey Gangsters, part of the notorious Bloods gang. This history adds credibility to some of his raps, and allows listeners to take his violent lyrics somewhat seriously.
Other charges related to sexual relations with a minor served as a blemish on his career, but it didn’t prevent him from acquiring new fans. His music would still talk about sleeping with women, gun ownership, and drug use. All of his lyrics were littered with profanities and derogatory language. Each song more shocking than the last, and his appearance was just as attention-grabbing as his lyrics. If you look at his face, he has rainbow colored hair, the number 69 tattooed on his forehead and a face tattoo of Jigsaw from the Saw franchise.
6ix9ine may have done some questionable things in the past, but his over-the-top antics diverted attention away from these crimes. In mid 2018 his past started to catch up with him when he was kidnapped and robbed of over $750,000 in jewelry. The story softened him image, but was quickly overshadowed by a shooting on the set of a music videos. Even when Hernandez was the victim of these violent crimes, his reputation continued to be centered around life on the street and all of the illegal activities associated with the identity of a gangster rapper.
In November 2018 Hernandez was arrested in association with the Nine Trey Gangsters for various charges including: racketeering, possession of weapons, and conspiracy to murder. Initially he pled not guilty, but his stance would change in early 2019. In doing this, his reputation would also change.
He fully cooperated with the police to reduce his sentence. He would would plea guilty and testify against members of his gang. This included revealing gang-related operations and identifying members. Most notably, he point his finger at other celebrities like Cardi B for their involvement with gangs.
To further discredit the allure of 6ix9ine, Hernandez admitted his rap persona was a character. His music was not to be taken seriously, it was meant to be “cool” and created for financial gain. He wasn’t living the life he rapped about, and he knew he was putting on a front.
When all was said and done, Hernandez was sentenced to two years in jail, gained the reputation as a snitch, admitted he was a fraud of a rapper, and became a meme.
He was the poster child for snitching. The public viewed him as a phony, and it seemed like his public image crumbled. Or did it? Perhaps he could survive if no one took him seriously to begin with.
How Did GOOBA Get to the Top?
6ix9ine’s release from prison was initially shrouded in mystery. Would he lay low? Would he approach his career with more sincerity? Or would he resume his old, attention-grabbing ways?
We got hints of new music in late April when he sought permission to film a music video in his backyard. He was granted permission and allow to go back on social media. So 6ix9ine did what he does best and leveraged social media. He teased the new song and began telling his story online.
If there was any doubt that people weren’t interested, those doubts where shattered. He took to Instagram Live to discuss his time in prison and defend his decision to become a snitch. People tuned in and it shattered the prior Instagram Live record six-fold. At its peak, over 2 million people tuned in, compared to the prior record of 300,000 who tuned in for Drake and Tory Lanez Lives.
Then, the song dropped with its accompanying video. You’re greeted with 6ix9ine screaming, bragging, and addressing his haters. It’s like he never missed a beat. He makes gun noises, talks about women and drugs, and taunts his enemies.
This is what listeners expect from 6ix9ine: money, guns, and haters. The only real difference this time around is his reference to his release from prison. At the end of the video, 6ix9ine puts a filter over his face, a la Snapchat, and transforms into a rat. Then he spouts the most infamous line of the song.
Tell me how I ratted, came home to a big bag.
This is exactly how the 6ix9ine character is expected to respond to the criticism. In the end he’s winning, he signed a $10 million deal behind bars, and you’re still listening to his music. It’s a slap in the face to anyone who doubted him.
That’s how he ends the song. So what do you do? You hit replay. Add another stream to his collection.
How 6ix9ine Works
Adults don’t understand 6ix9ine. Kids might not like his personality, but they understand it. Everything he does is to drive engagement online and rack up the views. Attention is his drug, and he’s always chasing a bigger dose.
Take one look at him and you’ll understand this. His hair is every color of the rainbow, his face is covered in tattoos, and he’s often wearing razor sharp grills in his mouth. His name alone is an innuendo with the maturity level of a high school freshman, and it’s stylized to look like an AOL screen name. You best believe all of these antics translate into his music.
He’s the musical equivalent to Warheads candy: loud, colorful, and aggressively sour. Very few people actually enjoy it, but many people consume it just to see what they’re capable of withstanding. It’s completely devoid of substance, but for a moment in time, it’s a novel experience.
When 6ix9ine shows up, you know he’s planning a trainwreck. People are going to watch, even if they don’t want to. It’s semi-controlled madness, and now that nothing else is going on, a lot of people want to watch the show. This is why his Instagram Live was so popular and why so many people want to listen to his music. The public is looking for excitement, and 6ix9ine always brings a show.
The people who watch him want to see the dangerous things in life from a safe distance. So it really don’t matter that his whole personality is a sham. The people who feed his addiction rather watch from afar.
Has 6ix9ine Reached His Peak?
The guy is walking clickbait, but there’s no denying his return is impressive. His music is so vulgar it won’t get played on the radio, and his past is so controversial he gets no promotion from streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. His success is almost exclusively from streaming, amassing over 100 million views on YouTube in under three days. He’s caused such a ruckus that he organized his own publicity. It’s offensive and disruptive, but people are clearly watching.
Of course, his resurgence after his stint in jail has given him a lot of attention. This is why GOOBA outperformed his prior singles and has become his biggest success yet. He can also thank COVID-19 for forcing people indoors and focusing their attention on media, but he was bound to get attention upon his release.
For a period in time, 6ix9ine was projected to debut at #1. He even implied that Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber bought their way to the top of the charts. Like 6ix9ine does, he stirred up controversy, so much that Billboard actually responded. Despite all of his antics and his vile persona, people actually think there are merits to his claims. To his dismay, GOOBA will only reach #3 on the Hot 100.
It would be hard to for him to outperform the media storm caused by GOOBA, but there’s a possibility he could. He knows how to push boundaries and cash in on the controversy. It’s a scary thought, because he would need to do something drastic to regain this level of attention. If you know anything about 6ix9ine, nothing is off limits. Literally nothing, regardless of the laws.
6ix9ine makes permanent decisions for temporary success. This has been proven by his lyrics, social media posts, and face tattoos. His music isn’t design to have longterm shelf live, and his formula requires him make a bigger scene each time he releases something new. Clearly a lot of people are paying attention, but eyes won’t remain on him for long. GOOBA will fall off the charts and a new song will come out. This is a moment that wasn’t designed to last, but for a moment in time, 6ix9ine truly did rule the music world.