Arts Opinion: Popular artists must be liable for their crimes

Artist Daniel Hernandez, better known as Tekashi 6ix9ine, has been accused of a crime involving sex with a minor. Today, many musicians have been absolved of the guilt because of their fame (courtesy of creative commons).

Several artists in the entertainment industry have committed crimes which are seemingly kept under wraps as the stars are allowed to continue their careers. In many cases, the artists’ trials are not taken seriously enough, promoting their carefree actions.

Rapper Daniel Hernandez, or Tekashi 6ix9ine, was recently sentenced to four years of probation for sexual misconduct with a 13-year-old girl. He admitted in 2015 to making videos featuring the young girl and dispersing them online. 

After being charged under a “youthful offender” plea agreement, he could have avoided jail time by avoiding trouble, earning his GED and serving 300 hours of community service. Prosecutors believe Hernandez failed in his attempts considering his two arrests in 2018, according to The Rolling Stone.

During Hernandez’s trial, prosecutor Sara Weiss spoke of the gruesome details about the misconduct captured in the video taken of the teenage girl.

“She was in the seventh grade … And when it was over, the defendant made the choice to continue to exploit her for his own benefit,” Weiss said according to Vulture. “He put the videos on his social media, on his Instagram account and he disseminated them online for the whole world to see … He was describing himself as a ‘scumbag.”  

Pushing away from his rapper persona, which has projected an image of continued misbehavior, Hernandez made a statement during the trial that argued his good deeds outweighed the bad. 

“Your honor … sometimes I feel like I’m behind a closed door trying to convince the world I’m a good man,” Hernandez said according to Vulture. “I’m not Tekashi 6ix9ine. I’m not committing murders, I’m not out there robbing people, I’m not out there raping people.” 

Hernandez mentioned helping people in need, saying that a young brain cancer patient asked the Make a Wish foundation if he could meet the rapper.

 “Your honor, if I was such a bad person, if I was such a criminal, why would his last wish be to see me?” Hernandez asked Judge Felicia Mennin. Mennin apparently was swayed by the good deeds as she made her decision which was met with applause, according to Vulture. 

Although probation and community service are not a proper punishment for sexual misconduct, Hernandez’s situation is not unique in the music industry. 

Rapper and singer Jahseh Onfroy, known as XXXTentacion, faced accusations of violent crimes against his girlfriend before he was shot and killed in June. Onfroy was awaiting trial on the charges of aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, false imprisonment and witness tampering at the time of his death. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, according to The Washington Post. 

Admitting to criminal acts through lyrics, whether honest or exaggerated, is a common occurrence in the rap industry. It has become increasingly difficult to separate the art and the artist. 

Many fans and music lovers are divided by the accusations or illegal actions of artists, making it more difficult to support the music they cannot help but appreciate. 

Artists who sing about abuse and murder are essentially using their platform of fame and large fan base to encourage individuals that violence is okay. After Hernandez’s sentencing, a shooting occurred during a celebration of his probation, according to ABC News.

The music industry’s audience should closely examine who they are providing a platform to. Many artists have redeemable qualities in their community involvement and the issues they discuss in their music, but that should not excuse them from being held accountable for crimes they have committed.