EXCLUSIVE: Tekashi 6ix9ine on prison, snitching, new music and more

Daniel Hernandez, known worldwide as Tekashi 6ix9ine, was behind bars after pleading guilty to multiple counts of racketeering, gun charges, and drug trafficking. His deal testifying against his former Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods associates earned him the label "snitch," but shaved decades off a possible 47-year sentence.

He ended up with 2 years, including time served. His chronic asthma and the COVID-19 pandemic led to an even earlier release last spring. He told FOX 5 NY that he was so sick at one point because of the lack of heat in the prison, he had to be hospitalized.

“With the asthma and the coronavirus, I caught bronchitis once and two asthma attacks in prison. When I caught bronchitis, they sent me to the hospital and the doctor said what’s going on in that jail, why is it so cold in that jail, I’m handcuffed to the bed," 6ix9ine said.

In the dizzying space of two years, Hernandez went from trying to survive as a busboy, dishwasher, and delivery man, to a self-made international superstar unlike any other with millions of fans, then to a convicted felon shunned by the streets and many in the hip hop establishment.

He told FOX 5 NY that at times it was too much.

“I think people would have attempted suicide. At a point in jail I thought about it," 6ix9ine said. "It’s so much stress, so much pressure because you’re seeing yourself on the news every day, this that and a third, when is this going to come to an end?”

He says adding to his despair was learning that the former gang associates he thought were his friends, were actually working against him and plotting to kill him.  He says testifying on the stand against them was his only route to survival, and that if people were honest, they would have done the same. He insists he is not a snitch,

“The audience understands it, the public, the world understands it, but they’ll paint it like 'this guy’s a snitch.' But what’s the definition of a snitch? I feel like the definition of a snitch and definition of a rat is telling on your friends,” 6ix9ine said.

He knows his life is in danger and has eight bodyguards with him at all times. But he says that's to give him the freedom to live his life, and no matter what people say, they can't stop him or break him.

“Mentally. God has built me so strong, you know that saying ‘What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger?' So basically I feel like I’m, not invincible but I feel like I’m at the peak of my mental state, where I’m like, ‘I’ll be fine,’” 6ix9ine said.

More recently, Tekashi 6ix9ine's song 'Trollz' with Nicki Minaj debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in June, and it's one of the tracks on his newly released album, TattleTales.

The album's popularity remains to be seen, but the rainbow-haired rapper is already complaining about being at a competitive disadvantage. He claims his attacks on music industry methods have resulted in the establishment turning its back on his latest project.

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Some fans and others in the streets and hip hop culture cannot forgive him for testifying against his former Nine Trey Blood associates, a move that brought his possible 47-year sentence down to under 2 years.

It's still being debated whether he used the gang, or the gang used him.

Throughout his interview with FOX 5 NY's Lisa Evers, Hernandez often spoke about Tekashi 6ix9ine as someone different from himself. But speaking about his volatile relationship with Sara Molina, the mother of his child, it's personal and real, the bravado gone.

He admitted to FOX 5 NY that he hit her throughout their 7-year relationship, and never went for any counseling.