21-year-old 9lokkNine has joined a seemingly ever-expanding group of young rappers cropping up from always-sunny Florida. 9lokkNine has his contemporaries– Kodak Black, Yungen Ace, YNW Melly, and the list goes on– but the rapper has also been able to prove himself in a lane of his own. Boasting over 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify, the rapper has enjoyed widespread success over the course of his brief, three-year career, with the help of collaborations with other industry up-and-comers like YNW Melly, Blueface, and NLE Choppa.
Though 9lokkNine’s 2019 collaboration with YNW Melly, “223’s” ultimately put his name on the map, with inescapable TikTok dances to the song popping up daily, a haunting legal record has also posed serious obstacles along the way. This includes a string of felony arrests, dating back to when he was 13, finding the teenager charged with everything from grand theft auto, frequent weapons charges, and attempted murder. Though he’s been able to avoid long-term prison time so far, a recent FBI racketeering charge may be the final domino to fall. So, let’s break down the rapper’s impact so far.
9lokkNine, real name Jacquavius Dennard Smith, is a 20-year-old Haitian native of West Orlando, Florida. Smith is proud of his native city, as it clearly serves as the backdrop to a number of his music videos– “Back When” and “Fun Facts” among others. 9lokkNine, who is allegedly a member of Orlando’s All Family No Friends Gang, is deep rooted in the West Orlando streets.
WATCH: 9lokknine “Crayola”
In a XXL interview, the rapper described his neighbourhood as nothing like the “DisneyWorld” perceptions some might have– “It’s the trenches. It’s a hard life, it depends on what side of Orlando you are growing up on.” The rapper was initially drawn to football as a means of making it out, but arrests as a teenager halted those plans. He even played on a high school team at his private high school where every member had been in jail: “we had like a little jail football team, everyone was felons… we lost every game.”
He cited “jealousy” and envy from those in his neighborhood as the reason he carries guns in an interview with VladTV. “They be hating, they don’t want to see nobody with more shit than what they go,” the rapper said. In fact, Smith got the name 9lokkNine from his friends who compared his grind and determination to a Glock pistol, which is known not to jam and doesn’t come with a safety switch.
9lokkNine began his musical aspirations as a kid, with influences like T-Pain and Lil Wayne that would cause Smith to rap into his fan in his own unique way to mimic their autotune performance. His childhood dream eventually came to fruition in 2018, with the release of his first mixtape in January of the same year, Kold Face Kold Case.
Though he had released unofficial singles while moving back and forth between jail, 2018 proved to be a breakout year for the rapper who released a second mixtape, Bloodshells Revenge with an accompanying video for the track “10 Percent.”
The track “10 Percent” off of Bloodshells Revenge quickly became one of his most successful music videos. Early fans drew connections between his sound and fellow Haitian Floridian Kodak Black, though 9lokkNine found these comparisons aggravating.
“At first that shit was funny to me,” the rapper said about the comparisons, “now that shit is starting to get aggravating.” He went on to explain that he likes Kodak’s music, but “it’s really how I talk. I rap how I talk. And they think I’m really trying to sound like that man.”
WATCH: 9lokknine “10 Percent”
It’s worth noting, however, the track “Crayola” off of Bloodshells Revenge is currently the mixtape’s highest-played track with over 13 million Spotify streams.
And yet, even with these successful back-to-back releases, 9lokkNine had much more music in store for the second half of 2018. The rapper continued grinding and pumped out a third mixtape that year– the 17-track Loyalty Over Love, which peaked the interest of labels.
9lokkNine signed a reported $2 million deal in August of that same year with Cash Money Records and Republic Records before releasing his last independent mixtape, Lil Glokk That Stole Christmas.
Lil Glokk That Stole Christmas was released with the song “223’s”, featuring YNW Melly, though Melly later took the song for himself and released it on his 2019 Melly Vs. Melvin album. The song garnered massive success thanks to viral exposure on the video-making app TikTok, with over 215,000 plays on the app for a variety of dances and other videos. The record peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 2019, credited to YNW Melly. “223’s” remains the hottest thing 9lokkNine has released, with over 300 million Spotify streams.
WATCH: YNW Melly & 9lokknine “223’s”
9lokkNine’s short yet explosive music career has been marred by consistent legal battles, so much so that fans often aren’t always sure if he’s in jail or if he’s free at any given moment.
The rapper’s first experience in jail was at the age of 13 for stealing a car. While he has been charged with a number of grand theft auto charges over the years, 9lockkNine recalled one incident in an interview with DJ Vlad where he stole an undercover police van. “It was like an undercover truck, we ain’t know that it had a tracker in it the whole time,” the rapper said. They then led the police through a small chase where they eventually hit a dead end– “we got stuck in a dead end, that shit was over.” 9lockkNine then threw his gun and avoided a firearms possession charge. In that same interview, 9lokkNine bragged about losing the cops “75%” of the time during high speed chases. “You gotta know back streets, side streets,” the rapper said.
9lokkNine had his second stint with the law at the age of 15. The soon-to-be rapper was arrested and convicted for aggravated assault with a firearm, unlawful discharge of a firearm, and a probation violation. 9lokkNine served at the Orange County juvenile Detention Center before going back to school.
However, the rapper found himself in hot water again– charged with illegal possession of a firearm, grand theft, and marijuana possession in October 2018– just after signing his record major label deal. 9lokkNine found himself with similar drug and weapon possession charges again 7 months later in May 2019, though this time he had a whopping 17 charges against his name. The rapper has just turned 19.
As “223’s” was becoming a serious hit in early 2020, 9lokkNine was arrested a second time at the age of 19, catching a concealed weapons charge in Florida.
The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t seem to stop the rapper’s run-ins with the police, as 9lokkNine was picked up once again for an attempted murder and firearm possession charge in July of 2020, just two months after his 20th birthday. And then, in October of 2020, he was shot at while shopping at the Mall at Millenia in Orlando, and arrested on a weapons charge at the scene of the shooting.
That brings us to the end of 2020, though 2021 doesn’t seem to be looking up for the rapper. In January, 9lokkNine was looped into an ongoing FBI case with affiliates of the All Family No Friends Gang, which was in an ongoing feud with rival 438 gang. 9lokkNine was charged with five counts of attempted murder after the gang feud tragically took the lives of a high school football player, a 14-year-old, and a 3-year-old.
9lokkNine was released from prison in March, only to be arrested just last week for racketeering charges as part of the All Family No Friends Gang. It’s unlikely that the court will go easy on the rapper, though he now sits at $750,000 bail.
Though the rapper just released a single on Father’s Day (“Going 4 None”), it seems his career prospects are largely dependent on the court. Though his artistic drive remains, the recent racketeering charge may prove to inhibit his reign over Florida rap. Nevertheless, 9lokkNine has done nothing but provide consistent material for his fans– and it seems he has no desire to let up.