It's only been six weeks since Tekashi 69 got out of prison, and already, the rainbow-haired rapper is stirring up controversy.
As you may recall, Tekashi snitched on his former fellow gang members, which reduced his sentence from 40 billion years to about three weeks.
Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but at one point, Tekashi -- whose real name is Daniel Hernandez -- was facing life behind bars, and he wound up getting released even earlier than expected, thanks to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
Many of those who are most familiar with his situation advised Tekashi to enter witness protection.
But the terminally naive 24-year-old declined to go the Henry Hill route, opting instead to re-enter the music business immediately by dropping a new single.
Now, it seems Hernandez has made some new enemies who are slightly less dangerous than his former colleagues in the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods.
Tekashi's song "GOOBA" fell shy of the number one spot on the Billboard charts, coming in behind Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber's collab "Stuck With U."
Now, Hernandez is alleging that that's the result of internal shadiness at Billboard, including 30,000 last minute units that he says were purchased by just six credit cards.
"When we asked where was those six credit cards linked to, Billboard said we can't disclose that information," Hernandez said in a video posted to his Instagram Story.
Grande was quick to fire back with an impassioned defense.
"My fans bought the song," Ariana wrote in a lengthy Instagram statement.
"JUSTIN'S fans bought the song. OUR fans bought this song (never more than four copies each, AS THE RULES STATE). They are ride or die motherf--kers and i thank god every day that i have them in my life," she added.
"Not just when they fight for us to win (even when i ask them not to as i did this week) but because they're some of the greatest people i know. sales count for more than streams. u can not discredit this as hard as u try."
Ariana went on to allege that there's a political component to Tekashi's argument:
"To anybody that is displeased with their placement on the chart this week or who is spending their time racking their brain thinking of as many ways as they can to discredit hardworking women (and only the women for some reason.....), she wrote "I ask u to take a moment to humble yourself. be grateful you're even here. that people want to listen to u at all. it's a blessed position to be in."
Justin posted a similar defense, writing:
"The rules are clear. One credit card can buy max 4 copies. Anything over that the entire amount gets thrown out. Nielsen checks this and found all our sales were legit because our fans are amazing and bought them."
Kind of tame, but he probably didn't want to piss off a former Nine Trey Gangsta Blood. Understandable.
Hernandez was quick to clarify that he meant no disrespect, and his beef is with Billboard, not Justin or Ariana:
"I don't want you to think that I'm coming at you," he said.
"I'm not saying that you're not talented and I'm not saying you can't sing. You're a beautiful singer. You just don't understand my pain. My frustration is for Billboard. I speak for the millions of kids that come from nothing," Tekashi added.
"I want you to understand that I come from a different, different background than you."
"All I’m saying is I worked super hard to make it out of Brooklyn NY. I speak for the millions of kids who aren’t as fortunate as you. The millions who weren’t fortunate to be on T.V.," he wrote, referencing Grande's past as a child star.
"LIFE is REAL when you’re on welfare LIFE is REAL when you grow up with out a father. You don’t know what that is like. You say for me to be humble .... I don’t think you know what humble is.......... YOU ARE VERY TALENTED AND BEAUTIFUL GOD BLESS YOU. But you will NEVER UNDERSTAND MY PAIN."
Yeah, they're all being a bit dramatic about placement on the Billboard chart, it's a pretty close call, but we're gonna grant the W to Tekashi here.
Ari turned it into an identity politics issue, and he pretty masterfully shut that down by pointing out that as a person of color from an impoverished, broken home who just got out of freakin' prison, he's had plenty of humbling experiences, thank you very much.
Is Tekashi indulging in some sort of wild conspiracy theorizing here? Possibly.
But we also 100 percent believe that Billboard indulges in all kinds of shadiness at the behest of A-listers, who then grant them access and exclusive interviews.
It's a strange world we live in -- and Tekashi 69 might be the guiding light who can lead us out of darkness.
Okay we're exaggerating again, but you get our point.