The new documentary “69: The Saga of Danny Hernandez” about the rise and fall of Tekashi69, one of the most controversial figures in contemporary pop culture, is streaming now exclusively on Hulu.
Part investigative documentary, part real-life gangster movie, 69: The Saga of Danny Hernandez directed by Vikram Gandhi unpacks the life of polarizing rap sensation and internet troll Tekashi69. One of the most controversial figures in contemporary pop culture, 69 repeatedly broke the internet with his sensationalist music videos and social media beefs before infamously testifying against Brooklyn gang the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods in a landmark trial. Director Vikram Gandhi (Kumaré, Barry) gets up close and personal with the neighborhood locals who knew 69 when he was still just Danny Hernandez – before the hard-core persona and the face tattoos – to chronicle his meteoric rise and fall from fame and probe the harsh extremes of addiction to fame in the digital era.
In a statement, filmmaker Vikram Gandhi commented, “All of my films explore identity, specifically the inner life of charismatic figures. I’m fascinated by the difference between the perceived person on the surface and the real person underneath. Social media has made this distinction even more profound and no story better conveys this new crisis of the digital self than the short-lived career of Tekashi69. With nearly 15 million Instagram followers, Tekashi69’s digital footprint was a global force. What made him so fascinating were the contradictions built into his very existence: A Mexican kid with facial tattoos and rainbow hair shouting the n-word, flaunting gang affiliation, starting beef, and posting his own violent acts online. When I realized 69 lived near me in Brooklyn – and that I’d frequented the bodega he used to work at – I hit up his manager to talk about making this documentary. I never heard back. A few months later Tekashi69 was arrested on federal charges facing forty seven years to life. Soon after, he started cooperating with the FBI to convict members of the very gang that had once supported him.”
“After years of traveling the world as an investigative journalist, I was compelled to explore this true-crime story in my hometown. Retracing the steps of Danny revealed a rare and uniquely-New York saga: On the very same blocks in Brooklyn – where a condo sells for millions of dollars – the shootings, robberies, and kidnapping linked to Tekashi69 were occurring. I strongly believe that the core of documentary filming is access, sitting down with people and really listening to them. As I moved further into the story, I met a motley crew of personalities who were integral to Tekashi69’s development as an artist and celebrity. Danny Hernandez wanted to be famous so badly that he was devoured by his digital avatar, Tekashi69.”