Review: Documentary 'Supervillain' charts rise and fall of controversial rapper 6ix9ine
Courtesy of Showtime
Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine is without question the most polarizing artist working today. Legally known as Daniel Hernendez, the self-anointed “King of New York” made a name for himself by carefully curating his image to the masses. Thanks to social media, the angry, rainbow-hair menace topped airwaves because you literally couldn’t look away. Like watching Donald Trump rise to the presidency, 6ix9ine knew how to game the system: Insult anyone that stands in your way and be ruthless doing it. He did this by thinking outside the box, slowly building fans through grassroots movements, and consistently producing hypercaffeinated, relentlessly in-your-face music videos. Who cares if the lyrics are good when the visuals are fire? You’ll never forget the first time someone showed you his signature rainbow aesthetic with a giant “69” tattooed across his face.
In director Karam Gill’s three-part docuseries “Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine,” we get into the specifics of how Daniel Hernendez climbed the proverbial hip-hop food chain. Though produced without Hernendez’ participation, Gill has gathered an array of talking heads that add context to 6ix9ine’s enduring legacy. Gill lands exclusive interviews with former DJs, members of the Treyway recording label, magazine editors, his biological father and the mother of his first born child. New details emerge that won’t shock anyone who followed the rapper’s career, but if you’re still on the fence about whether or not to support him, “Supervillain” might offer a new perspective.
Pieced together over three segments that will air weekly starting February 21st, Gill has assembled an authentic portrait of 6ix9ine’s worldview from his early years to the present day. Thanks to 6ix9ine’s expansive social media presence - coincidentally the same data FBI agents used to pin the rapper to notorious Bloods gangster Shotti - Gill weaves plenty of behind the scenes footage (including unreleased tapes of 6ix9ine during his house arrest) to paint the narrative. Considering how suave 6ix9ine works the room and controls his public persona - which Gill showcases throughout the doc - watching Gill pull back the curtain and chart how the biggest troll of the Gen Z generation was created is eerily potent.
Sporadically throughout the series, Gill uses an animated framing device to showcase how “elements” of a supervillain shaped 6ix9ine. Its inclusion can occasionally stifle the show's momentum, but Giancarlo Esposito’s sly narration, and taking into account the rappers cartoon character alter-ego, ultimately winds up paying off. There’s also some irony to “Supervillain” in that it caters, for better or worse, to 6ix9ine’s overall goal of maximum impressions. His entire career is built off making big splashes and the filmmakers draw a fine line between investigative journalism and glamorization. I have a feeling for someone as toxic as 6ix9ine, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
SUPERVILLAIN debuts on Showtime Sunday, February 21st.