MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We'd like to go back now to a story that's gotten a lot of attention in the world of hip-hop - the arrest last week of the Brooklyn-based rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine for racketeering and possession of firearms. Prosecutors say that 6ix9ine, whose given name is Daniel Hernandez, is a member of New York's Nine Trey Gangsters Bloods, an offshoot of the notorious Bloods gang. They allege, in the indictment, that he has personally had possession of illegal weapons and that he is connected to some of the violent acts associated with the gang. They also say he violated terms of his probation on a prior sex offense by associating with gang members. The rising 22-year-old hip-hop artist had a hit single last year and was about to release his much-anticipated debut solo album.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STOOPID")
TEKASHI 6IX9INE: (Rapping) [Expletive] I'm silly. Up the chopper, shoot your [expletive] up. Let's get busy drinking Henny, going brazy, popping pillies...
MARTIN: Now, we're taking a look at this because he is the latest in a list of rap artists who've not only faced criminal charges but harsh federal racketeering and conspiracy charges, which come with long, potentially career-ending sentences. And we were wondering why this is. So we called Derrick Parker. He's a former New York City police detective who ran a special intelligence squad that focused on the rap and hip-hop community. And Derrick Parker's with us now from his home in New York. Detective Parker, thank you so much for talking with us.
DERRICK PARKER: Not a problem.
MARTIN: Now, you're retired now. But you've been dubbed the hip-hop cop. You've written a book about your work. And we'll get into the why of this in a minute. But is there anything more that you can tell us about 6ix9ine and why he's been arrested? Tell us a bit more about these charges if you can.
PARKER: Well, he's got charged with being part of a racketeering-influenced, corrupt organization. And what I mean by that is that the feds usually coming - the federal government meaning the FBI, ATF or DEA. They usually start a case on a individual who has all the makings of this. And 6ix9ine did by the weapons that he possessed or didn't possess, the drug sales, controlled substances that he sold or didn't sell. I'm alleging all of this because this has been alleged in the indictment.
There was also a planned hit on another artist or an artist entourage. So there's a slew of charges. I think there's, like, eight counts of conspiracy charges against him. The violent acts are always something that kills an artist - or a person, I should say - that gets involved with a group or organization like a blood gang or a drug gang or a murderous robbery team, you know? They go after them. And then, they sort of take them out.
MARTIN: What is your take on what this violence is about? Because when we - I think a lot of people think about, you know, Mafia, like, (inaudible), you know? Those are businesses that use violence to enhance their businesses, right? I mean, they want to sell illegal drugs. They want to engage in businesses which are, by definition, illegal. So, therefore, they use violence to do all kinds of things - to settle disputes, to establish their dominance in something like this. In this case, what is it for? And in your - just - I'm asking you based on your experience. Like, why is there this violence associated with some of these artists?
PARKER: What happens is that when these artists come from the street - right? - and they make it, they take people with them that they shouldn't be with. And it's hard to separate. I understand that. It's very hard to separate from people that made you or that you hung with. And, now, you made it, so they want to make it as well. But the problem is is that once you become organized like this and you go out and commit these acts - like carrying a gun, shooting at people in the streets, selling drugs, having an automatic weapon - these are just all recipes for the government to say, wait a minute. We have to step in with you.
And I think what happened with Tekashi 6ix9ine was when they kept a gun at his house, that was something that - the ATF got involved because once you get a firearm offense, especially an automatic weapon, like a machine gun that he had, the ATF has to be notified. And they probably got involved, like they did, with the NYPD and homeland security. And they did a case on Tekashi 6ix9ine and the crew that he ran with.
MARTIN: And to those who argue - and, as you know, there are people who do argue - that these groups, these artists are being targeted because of their art - right? Is it people just the - that the - sort of the mainstream society, if I can use those terms, still just doesn't like their work. They don't like what they have to say. They don't like the sort of - that's why they're the target. And if the - law enforcement turned its attention to other groups - right? - like punk rockers, they might find similar things. Like, what did you say to that?
PARKER: But, see, that's the whole thing. Because hip-hop is so visible and because this industry is so mainstream-marketed and it's loved by every - pretty much every culture, it's that they are watched, and it's public news. I mean, look, the NYPD has a stance now where they don't want a rapper getting killed in New York. When these rap artists come here and they - and there's, like, beefs between them, between other rival rappers, they monitor it. And they have to because they want to be on top of things. They don't want things to go by the wayside in that they didn't know about it.
But it's not really the artist that they're tackling. In a way, it's - he's going down like any other group would. I mean, you have other violent gangs out here that the police department took out. The only problem is, in the punk rock world, they haven't had this kind of violence. So there's a big difference. In the hip-hop world, they - many think that it's very violent, the culture's violent. And that's viewed by not just the whole force, but that's by society.
MARTIN: That's Derrick Parker, former NYPD detective. He led a rap intelligence group, and he's also the author of a book. It's called "Notorious C.O.P:" - get it? - "The Inside Story Of The Tupac, Biggie, And Jam Master Jay Investigations From NYPD's First "Hip-Hop Cop"." Thanks so much for talking to us.
PARKER: You're very welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.