It’s got enough carats to empty a small diamond mine.
Perhaps you thought Tekashi 6ix9ine would quietly emerge from his prison sentence chastened by a year-and-a-half behind bars? Nah. The rapper born Daniel Hernandez, of course, came out blazing, throwing both middle fingers up (he’d probably toss three if he could) in the frenetic video for his return-to-form grunt-hop single “Gooba.”
In addition to his shining diamond grill and signature rainbow-colored hair, he also bounced back onto the scene with a giant new piece around his neck modeled on Bruce, the snarling shark from Finding Nemo. Except, you know, made up of gold and diamonds hanging from a necklace thicker than a fat baby’s forearm.
It’s definitely a talker, so Billboard hopped on the phone with the genius gemologist behind the sharknado of bling, Jimmy Phan of Houston, Texas’, Done Right & Co. to find out how it came together.
You’ve worked with 69 before, right?
Yeah, I’ve actually done all of his jewelry since the first one.
How did you guys originally hook up?
We actually connected in New York, I reached out to his camp and our camps got together. From me doing his first iced-out grill — before that he used to have that other grill with the rainbow colors — and from there i did the spinning 69 piece, then 4-5 other iced-out grills for him and the Jigsaw piece. When got robbed I re-did everything again.
Since you’ve done all his stuff, some twice, how much has he laid out at your shop to date?
Realistically he’s probably spent about $2.5 million with me.
I have no frame of reference, is that a lot in your experience with these type of pieces for artists?
There are people that have spent more, but he’s consistent and he pays upfront. [Laughs] That’s one thing I respect, he doesn’t do none of that, “let me do payments” or “hey, I’ll pay you later.” Before he event gets his stuff he takes care of his tab. He sends a wire through… he makes good money, so if you make good money why should you even be trying to… he’s a helluva bargainer, though, but definitely he takes care of his business.
Who’s idea was the shark? Yours or his?
What I do with my career is I always imagine things I would want to make, so the Bruce the shark was my idea because I’ve already imagined how I would execute this piece before he ever brought it up. I get a call from him one day while he’s incarcerated, would I want to make a piece, a great white shark? He’s like, because the great white shark is the king of the ocean. He’s the one everyone fears and that’s how I feel. He’s like, either I make this or a rat, which one do you think I should do? I told him I actually have perfect idea I’ve always thought of doing. It was the same with all his other pieces, I already had a vision in my head of how I wanted it to come out. And he was like, “are you sure? Are you sure?” And I was like, “trust me.” It wasn’t easy because the process of making the piece while he was incarcerated was very hard to get a hold of him. I couldn’t get a hold of him, send him pictures. So, especially with this one, a lot of it had to do with him trusting me and letting me do my job. Of course it definitely ended up coming out, as you can see, crazier than ever. That’s what happens when you let my imagination run wild.
How long did it take you to make it?
The piece itself took me about a month and a half.
Can you break down the elements?
The necklace itself weighs almost 3 kilos of gold. The diamond weight on the chain is about 135 karats in diamonds, all baguette and round diamonds.
When you get a piece like that, is there a signature on it that lets people know you made it?
Definitely, with all our pieces we mark them on the back. On the back there’s a full monogram saying “696969” and our Done Right logo.
How did he react when he saw it?
The crazy thing is I didn’t actually bring it to him. With COVID-19 situation, he had someone come down here, one of his security come down here and pick everything up from Houston. I talked to him a couple days later and he was nuts about it. To be honest with you, he didn’t want to fork over the rest of money until I showed it to him. That’s when he had no problem letting go of the rest of the money.
Is it one of the bigger pieces you’ve done?
Yeah, the shark piece itself, just the diamond in the mouth has 16 carats in diamonds. The piece itself has around another 102, so it’s around 125 carats in diamonds. The piece alone weighs over a pound, about 500 grams. And a lot of people don’t see, but in the back of the teeth it has black diamonds.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from people in the business?
The feedback on the piece is exactly what it is. I take a lot of price in my work and little thing… I pay attention to detail. The only person that has something negative to say is someone who’s being negative. I’ll put it this way, I have someone who is a very big hater of mine who always likes to talk about my jewelry pieces I make and he actually DM’s me and was like, “yo, I have to give it to you, the chain is nuts. I can’t find a flaw.”
He’s definitely been shining it in all his social media. It’s almost gotten as much play as the single. It’s kind of like the symbol of his return. That must feel good.
Definitely. I had no idea that was gonna be the symbol of his return, like you said. When it came out he just ran with it and it just worked out the way it did.
Do you guys have anything else in the works?
Oh we always have something in the works, I’ll put it that way. It’s always gonna be a surprise.
Check out the “Gooba” video, some making-of images of the shark and other signature Tekashi pieces.