Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine has been sentenced to two years in prison over racketeering charges stemming from his affiliation with the street gang Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, according to the Associated Press.

The sentence, delivered Wednesday in U.S. District Court, is substantially shorter than the maximum 47 years previously faced by the 23-year-old rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez. Judge Paul Engelmayer attributed the leniency to Hernandez working with prosecutors throughout the 13 months he has already served: “Your cooperation was impressive,” Engelmayer reportedly said. “It was game changing. It was complete and it was brave.”

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Rapper Daniel Hernandez, known as Tekashi 6ix9ine, performs this year. Tekashi 6ix9ine was sentenced to 2 years in prison Wednesday for his entanglement with a violent street gang that fueled his rise to fame. Luca Bruno/Associated Press

Last week, Hernandez wrote the judge a letter expressing remorse over the crimes he committed.

“I was blessed with a gift of an opportunity that most people dream of but I squandered it by getting involved with the wrong people and misrepresenting myself when I should have been true to myself and my fans,” Hernandez stated, reflecting on his decision to align himself with the gang.

The New York Times reported in September that Hernandez joined the Nine Trey in 2017 to earn “a stamp of street authenticity that would guarantee musical stardom.” He broke out that year when an Instagram selfie – featuring multiple face tattoos reading “69,” as well as his rainbow hair and grill – went viral on social media, drawing attention to his debut song “Gummo,” released a few months later. The single hit No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and he reached No. 3 the next summer with the track “Fefe,” a collaboration with Nicki Minaj.

Hernandez became one of the most popular rappers on SoundCloud, the streaming service that also gave rise to artists such as Lil Pump and XXXTentacion. But like that of the latter, who died last year, Hernandez’s success was mired in controversy from the start: In 2015, he pleaded guilty to one felony count of sexual misconduct involving a 13-year-old girl, for which he eventually received four years’ probation.

Though his music career continued to thrive, Hernandez’s legal troubles worsened in 2018. That January, he allegedly assaulted a fan. In May, he was charged with two misdemeanors for operating a vehicle without a license and, the next day, reportedly attacked an officer with the New York Police Department. In November, Hernandez was indicted on the federal charges that led to his Wednesday sentencing.

Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement at the time that the Nine Trey had “wreaked havoc on New York City, engaging in brazen acts of violence.” The indictment alleged that Hernandez had participated in an April 2018 robbery of rival gang members, and that he had been among a group who agreed to shoot someone who had disrespected the Nine Trey.

In February, Hernandez pleaded guilty to nine counts of racketeering conspiracy, firearms offenses and narcotics trafficking. He cut a deal with federal prosecutors and, in September, took the stand as a star witness against high-ranking Nine Trey members Aljermiah Mack and Anthony Ellison, both of whom now face life in prison. Hernandez, who has since renounced his Nine Trey affiliation, was derided as a “S.N.I.T.C.H.” by rapper Snoop Dogg, who also pointed out that his close friend Martha Stewart “snitched on NOT ONE soul” before serving five months for lying about a stock sale. Vince Staples, a rapper known for his outspoken nature, tweeted, “Did 69 tell on you? Find out next time, on Dragon Ball Z.”

Prosecutors have indicated that Hernandez could enter a witness protection program after his release from prison, though that could prove difficult, given the prominence of his unusual face tattoos. In a presentencing letter to the judge, they wrote that while the rapper’s help “was extraordinary,” there is “no question that the defendant’s life will never be the same because of his cooperation in this case.”

“He and his family will have to take extra safety precautions when being in public so as to avoid potential reprisals from others,” prosecutors continued, per the Associated Press.

Hernandez’s representatives haven’t responded to The Washington Post’s request for comment.

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