Ahead of the premiere of the new SHOWTIME ® three-part docuseries, Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine, from Rolling Stone, Imagine Documentaries and Lightbox, director Karam Gill, executive producer Peter Scalettar, and president/COO of Rolling Stone and executive producer Gus Wenner joined RS senior editor Jeff Ihaza for a virtual panel about the controversial rapper and the making of the new series.
The conversation began with a discussion about how to cover a figure like 6ix9ine — an immensely popular musician who, from the start of his career, was tied up in legal issues (including a guilty plea for child-sex charges) and seemed bent on using controversy to boost his career. Wenner touched on the deliberations that went into Rolling Stone’s 2019 feature on 6ix9ine (which served as the basis for Supervillain), while Gill acknowledged he was initially apprehensive about taking on the project but changed his mind when he envisioned it as a “character study and cultural time capsule project.”
He continued: “More than anything, this is the story about the state of our culture and how people can create things from scratch. What does it say about our fascination with the bad? … For me, more than anything, I think it’s important to study the villains of society. Because when you study the villains, you can learn more about what our dark fascinations are as a society. It’s really an indication of where we are, because villains don’t exist unless society allows them to exist.”
Elsewhere, the panel delved into the parallels between a figure like 6ix9ine and Donald Trump; the way 6ix9ine ingratiated himself into hip-hop’s upper echelon during his late 2010s peak; and how the filmmakers garnered the trust of people who’d been in 6ix9ine’s orbit and also been hurt by the rapper.
“It’s definitely threading a needle with that,” Scalettar said. “How do you effectively tell this story without just falling into traps where you go, ‘Oh, this is just to his benefit.’ There’s two parts that were done really well: Humanizing the other people around him and acknowledging the collateral damage.”
Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine premieres February 21st at 10pm ET/PT on SHOWTIME ®. The full series will be available for streaming on SHOWTIME ® on-demand platforms starting on the 21st.