Daniel Hernandez — also known as the rapper Tekashi 69, or simply 6ix9ine — has been free from prison and home confinement for a little over a year, after striking a deal with law enforcement officials for ratting out his fellow gang members. Now, he’s advertising NFTs priced at hundreds of dollars a pop and claiming to help multiple charitable organizations. Details are sparse, though, and the sale is right around the corner with a launch time of 4 p.m. EDT on Oct. 28.
On Thursday, Oct. 21, cartoonish digital 2D art depicting the controversial celebrity — who previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy, racketeering, firearms offenses, use of a child in a sexual performance, drug offenses, and drug trafficking — started to emerge on Twitter and Instagram pages with the handle @trollznft69. A day later, a website titled trollznft.io had surfaced. According to that page, the Trollz NFT collection is a “fan-based” project “made to interact with 6ix9ine’s fans and supporters but also give long term value to holders.” However, there is no substantial explanation of what makes the tokens valuable or fan-based.
The website does say that all “royalties” will go back to token owners, but it doesn’t specify the type of royalties. If it’s referring to the art’s copyright, that’s pretty standard in the NFT world these days. However, if there are musical royalties involved, that would be an entirely different — and arguably more enticing — ball game.
Each of the 9,669 tokens costs 2 SOL — or about $400 at press time. If they sell out, that’s almost four million dollars. The Trollz team says it will donate $20,000 to five different charities — $100,000 in total — upon selling out, according to the website. However, no specific charities are listed. (6ix9ine has previously written about donating to unnamed charities in Instagram posts that he went on to delete. He also tried to donate to No Kid Hungry in 2020, but the organization declined. “It is our policy to decline funding from donors whose activities do not align with our mission and values,” No Kid Hungry’s director of strategic communications, Laura Washburn, told Complex at the time, presumably referring to the time Hernandez fondled and thrusted against a naked 13-year-old while she was engaging in oral sex for a music video — a felony he pleaded guilty to in 2015.)
The collection’s visual art looks quite similar to that of another series of 6ix9ine NFTs that dropped this spring, which was similarly priced, except those were of a higher quality — 3D and animated. Rolling Stone reached out to two publicists who were involved with the previous collection. Neither of them were aware of the Trollz drop.
In trying to access the Trollz collection’s Twitter page at press time, users are redirected to a curious disclaimer that warns people to think twice before proceeding: “Caution: This account is temporarily restricted,” it reads. “You’re seeing this warning because there has been some unusual activity from this account.”
One of the top five most frequently asked questions regarding this collection, according to its website, is “Is this a scam or rugpull?” The team’s answer is not entirely reassuring: “R U DUMB? No! This is a project in direct correlation with 6ix9ine. He is aware and privy to the inner workings going on behind the scenes. This project is directly influenced by his involvement, so anything promised on TROLLz web/discord will be delivered.”
Just two days before the drop, Hernandez publicly announced his attachment to the project via an Instagram post on his account. In the caption, he tagged the collection’s account and wrote “STOP QUESTIONING MY DISCORD.” He also turned off the comments for this posts, even though he usually leaves them on.
Weirdly, on the Discord channel, it seems that organizers had been eagerly trying to convince users of Hernandez’s involvement since its launch. On Oct. 26, the organizers announced that the rapper had hopped on to use Discord’s voice chat function. In the audio, reviewed by Rolling Stone, the speaker never introduces himself. While the voice certainly could belong to Hernandez, he also never says anything about NFTs. Instead, he seems to be talking about making music — that he doesn’t “have to make” — for fans out of the kindness of his heart. “I do it because I love you and I care about you… Gangsta… When I drop this shit… uh… I don’t got an exact date or none of that, but just run this shit up, man. You hear?” The audio awkwardly cuts out shortly after that, before another voice asks “Who’s excited for launch day, though?” “Oct. 28,” the second voice adds. “Who’s excited?”
The whole thing appears very ramshackle. Matthew Gould, CEO and founder of Unstoppable Domains, a blockchain domain name NFT minting company, tells Rolling Stone that trustworthy NFT projects should have “well-known community members who have been in the space or working in the space for a while,” as well as “backing by well-known NFT promoters.” With Trollz, there’s no clear indication of who’s behind it. And the marketplace it’s using, solanart.io, is still in beta.
Gould adds that trustworthy projects are “are generally fully ‘doxed’ meaning you can see who is running the project.” “Sometimes you can have anonymous projects, but these will be from people who have been running anonymous Twitter accounts for a long time, so they will still be known in the community at large,” he says.
Gould also points out that reputable endeavors aren’t often rushed. “They will have been worked on for months,” he says. “Although you’ll only find out about a lot of the good projects last minute or right when they launch, when you go to research the project you should be able to see a history of Discord activity or other community engagement that shows how they developed the idea over time.” An organizer with the username “crazytroll” made the first Trollz-related announcement on Discord on Oct. 22.
A little more than 24 hours before the drop, crazytroll updated their Discord to say that a presale with 690 spots, which is supposed to start 30 minutes before the main sale on the 28th, had already filled. At press time, the Discord channel had over 80,000 members.