Rapper Tekashi69 once had the protection and loyalty of a notorious New York street gang. But next week he is set to testify against two of the gang’s accused gang members, federal prosecutors said this week.
The rainbow-haired rapper will take the stand against accused Nine Trey gangsters Anthony “Harv” Ellison, 31, and Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack, 33, in Manhattan federal court. Ellison is accused of kidnapping Tekashi last July along with racketeering and gun charges. Mack is charged with narcotics trafficking and racketeering.
Tekashi69, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, rose to popularity in 2015 as a viral social media star who produced extreme music videos on Instagram and Youtube. After several years circulating as a SoundCloud-rapper, the 22-year-old entered the mainstream music scene with “FEFE,” his hit single created with Nicki Minaj last year.
He will testify after pleading guilty in February to nine federal charges, including firearms offenses, racketeering, and drug charges as part of his plea agreement. (The rapper previously pleaded guilty in 2015 to child pornography charges after filming a sexually explicit video with a 13-year-old girl—a video he told prosecutors was intended to boost his “scumbag” persona and “just for shock value.”)
In the last pretrial court hearing Tuesday before trial is set to begin next week, prosecutors and defense counsel discussed, among other things, whether to include whether to include Tekashi69’s recent admission he “committed domestic violence” for over seven years.
“It’s not relevant in this case, per the government’s decision not to prosecute, but it is still something that may influence a jury,” Judge Paul Engelmayer said in court.
The hearing came one day after prosecutors sent a letter to Engelmayer laying out their intent to focus Tekashi’s testimony about his role “in Nine Trey was to make money for the gang and distribute that money among Nine Trey members.”
Court papers allege that Tekashi allegedly took part in a gunpoint robbery of Nine Trey rivals in Midtown Manhattan in 2018, when he filmed the heist from a nearby car. In court Wednesday, prosecutors argued to show the unredacted videos in court, along with Instagram conversations between Mack and fellow gang members about plans for the robbery.
“Harv, you know I’ll give you everything… Harv, I’ve always done right by you… Harv, I’ve put money in your pocket bro, I’m scared,” Tekashi says in the video to Ellison, according to court documents.
Mack’s lawyer argued on Wednesday the videos should be allowed into evidence without a transcription to “show the whole picture mere text cannot provide.” Engelmayer overruled the defense’s request, calling the move “unnecessary” for the jurors’ understanding of the case.
Prosecutors also said in court plans to use text messages sent by Ellison before and after he allegedly kidnapped and robbed Tekashi69 on July 22, 2018 in Brooklyn. In the messages, Ellison allegedly asks fellow alleged gang members about the rapper’s location and asks to be informed about media coverage of the incident afterwards, according to a letter filed by prosecutors. Ellison and an unnamed individual also allegedly texted about purchasing Tekashi’s jewelry, which Ellison allegedly stole.
“For example, Individual-1 told Ellison that if Ellison was ‘trynna let something go,’ then Individual-1 would ‘spend some money for something,’” the letter said. “Additionally, Individual-1 told Ellison to sell Individual-1 ‘the bitch with the red face.’”
Deveraux Cannick, Ellison’s lawyer, has previously called the incident staged, but remained silent in court Wednesday and agreed to show the texts in trial.
“No robbery or kidnapping or assault happened,” Cannick reportedly said. “It didn't happen. He had an event that made it look like a robbery or kidnapping.”
The trial marks the final step in the case against over a dozen Nine Trey gang members indicted in November. On Friday, the rapper’s former manager and accused gang member Kifano “Shotti” Jordan was sentenced to 15 years in prison after previously pleading guilty to federal racketeering charges.