(March 27, 2023). The rap world isn’t shedding many tears for the beatdown that one of its own took last week at an LA Fitness gym bathroom in South Florida.
In fact, many in the hip-hop community have posted social media messages rejoicing over the incident that left the colorful rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine—real name Daniel Hernandez—seriously and visibly injured while exclaiming to his attackers “y’all [ninjas] jumped me!” before being taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
The attackers he was referring to were three or four goons—two of them very bulky—some of whom were seen in security camera footage entering the gym moments before making their way past the receptionist and towards the men’s locker room where they apparently found the controversial rapper and proceeded to beat the crap out of him, leaving him and any dignity he had remaining on the floor before LA Fitness personnel arrived to stop the madness.
The alleged attackers—wait, since there’s actual footage and no names are implicated yet, do we really need to use the word alleged?—well, anyway, the alleged attackers even recorded the event, noting in one audible moment “I am going to be famous!” and even mocking the rapper as being “one of his fans” before they quickly left the premises.
Not surprisingly, Johnny-on-the-spot Internet gossip channel TMZ.com got a hold of the video and the news went viral in a matter of hours, giving Tekashi’s haters (and a few supporters) plenty of social media fodder to comment on for days to come.
One of the first to take the opportunity was Boosie Badazz, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana rapper whose last top-40 hit was 15 years ago but whose social media presence is legendary. His mostly all-CAPs tweet the following day (“Lmao SNITCHES GET STITCHES!! LETS (sic) START A GOFUND (sic) FOR THIS GUY 💯”) has been viewed 3.3 million times and liked more than 17,500 times, likely because it also contains video footage of the attack.
It’s no secret that Tekashi 6ix9ine is not well liked in the hip-hop community. In fact, after giving up the goods during a 2019 trial testimony against fellow suspects/gang members in a racketeering and attempted murder conspiracy case in exchange for a much-shorter prison sentence, the mercurial rapper has been the target of many attacks (online at least) after being labeled a “snitch,” which is perhaps the biggest rap code violation next to having bad rhymes (it turns out 6ix9ine is guilty of both).
Given all that, plus his still-defiant nature—he has continued to live outwardly as if he wasn’t once considered for federal witness protection after striking a plea deal in exchange for testifying against former fellow gang members—the biggest question that’s been raised is why didn’t 6ix9ine have a bodyguard with him at all times? (His bodyguard has since challenged the rapper’s attackers to a $10,000, 4-against-1 fight with some very dire stakes if the assailants were to lose).
Others have asked why wasn’t Tekashi at least strapped (armed) in the absence of his bodyguard, but a condition of the “Trollz” rapper’s plea deal was that he would not break anymore laws. Carrying a loaded firearm into an LA Fitness—even if only for protection—would probably landed the rapper right back in jail (although, at this point, that may be the safest place for him).
But a question that few—if any—people are asking is: why were the three or four individuals, or at least the last two seen entering the gym after being let in by the first, allowed to go right past the receptionist’s desk without being properly vetted in the first place?
And, as a result, could the company be held liable for allowing non-members into the gym, people whose clear purpose was to cause bodily harm to one of its members?
As a member of LA Fitness (and its predecessors) for more than 30 years, I’ve never been able to sneak into one of its facilities. Heck, I was even turned away by receptionists in the past after (unwittingly) trying to enter one or more of their “signature” clubs while only having paid for a standard club membership (which is half the price).
In video footage shown by TMZ, which the Internet sleuth company clearly obtained from the gym’s security cameras, one of the thugs was seen pacing in front of the main entrance and talking on his cell phone before motioning for the others to come in as they whisked past the receptionist who apparently acknowledged their presence and went on about her business. (This suggests that the fourth guy may have been the lookout already inside signaling when Tekashi was in the bathroom and at his most vulnerable with fewest witnesses present.)
I’m not an attorney, but it wouldn’t take a rocket lawyer to guess that, if this were an ordinary citizen who’d been targeted and assaulted in a gym facility, and it was later found that the gym’s employees hadn’t followed proper protocol in vetting patrons before they were allowed entry, that citizen might be in for a nice payday, at least to cover any medical expenses.
But Tekashi 6ix9ine s no ordinary citizen. And medical expenses are not all that’s on the line here.
The “Fefe” rapper’s career image has clearly taken a big hit and it didn’t help to have photos of one of hip-hop’s most aggressively outspoken acts depicting him bloodied, bruised and pathetic—not to mention being shown in the short-shorts he was donning at the time—circulating the Internet.
If rumors of 6ix9ine’s recent financial distress—including alleged bankruptcy and various lawsuits for missed concert dates and other issues—are true, it shouldn’t surprise anyone reading this that, even if criminal charges aren’t soon filed against the really smart criminals who videotaped themselves committing aggravated assault in a public facility with witnesses present, Tekashi might certainly have a civil case against the company whose possible negligence allowed it to happen in the first place.
When all is said and done, the money-flaunting Tekashi 6ix9ine will likely go down as a rapper whose legacy is more about his annoying, trolling, devil-may-care image than anything good related to his music.
His two full-length albums, 2018’s Dummy Boy and 2020’s TattleTales—in addition to being ironic and titularly self-aware—have been panned by hip-hop critics as being among the worst in recent years. His first and only No. 1 single, 2020’s “Trollz” with Nicki Minaj, holds the dubious Billboard record for second-shortest time spent on the Hot 100–just four weeks—for a song that debuted at the top.
None of his three chart entries since then, “Yaya,” “Zaza” and “Giné,” have climbed higher than No. 83 on that same chart (if you’ve picked up the pattern, nearly all of the rapper’s songs are gimmicky one-word titles).
In the three years since “Trollz,” and especially during the weeks leading up to last week’s beatdown, 6ix9ine has been in the news for other things, including publicly denouncing his Puerto Rican heritage at a soccer game between PR and Mexico, after he became disruptive while waving a huge Mexican flag in recognition of his mom’s side of the family (his dad, who was reportedly absent during his childhood, was the Puerto Rican half).
Only the ongoing investigation will determine whether it was that incident or hip-hop’s ultimate code violation—“snitching”—that prompted 6ix9ine’s pulp finish last Tuesday.
Or if the whole thing was a hoax to revive a struggling career or even get a huge payoff settlement from the gym for its lax security practices.
Whatever the motive, and no matter how much it seemed that this very public rapper was putting himself in harm’s way by his highly visible antics and his willingness to travel without a bodyguard, no one deserves to be beaten up and criminally violated like he was. Violence in all its forms should be condemned—not celebrated as it has been in the wake of this attack by the rap community at-large.
But the video footage should also call into question the actions of the gym itself, footage illustrating at the very least that LA Fitness may have some liability.
Hip-hop troll patroller DJRob (he/him/his) is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.
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