HBO chronicles fraud-fueled rise of Detroit 'scam rapper' Teejayx6

May 04, 2021, 11:46 PM by  Violet Ikonomova

Teejayx6. (Screen shot, Generation Hustle)

A teenage Detroit rapper famous for making "scam rap" — a subgenre said to teach people how to scam — has unsurprisingly found his place in a new 10-part HBO Max docuseries on scammers.

"Generation Hustle" portrays rapper Teejayx6 as an internet con artist who trafficked in swindling people out of money for phantom goods, parlayed the exploits into a rap career by making songs with how-to lyrics, then scored a $10 million record deal despite a seeming lack of conventional musical talent (his lyrics are off beat and often don't rhyme). Featured as the show's third episode, the 19-year-old joins a pantheon of modern day cons, including WeWork founder Adam Neumann and Theranos' Elizabeth Holmes.

"Easy money is the best money to make," Teejayx6 says. "Every time I make some free money, it just makes me want to do it again."

Teejay's general manager estimates he'd made $1 million by the time his rap career took off two years ago. "Generation Hustle" suggests the teen got rich off myriad schemes, from getting men he'd catfished to send him money to buying stolen credit card information off the dark web and using it to build scannable cards.

In past interviews, Teejay has said he also used social media to advertise discounted TVs, Xboxes, and other big-ticket items he did not actually possess, convincing people to pay up front for goods they would never receive. Once, he said he got model Blac Chyna to promote his fake business' Instagram for $3,000, allowing him to make $9,000 in a single day by selling nothing. He's been grifting since at least the age of 9, when he began passing off bags of parsley as weed. 

Early on, Teejayx6 said he used his earnings to buy Jordans, shirts, movies — "little kid shit." He started "stacking" at age 12, got studio time, and began pursuing his lifelong dream of rap stardom with songs that detailed how to commit credit card fraud and VPN scams. A song went viral, a tour followed, and a staged arrest during a 2019 show in Los Angeles garnered even more attention.

"Detroit is one of those cities where the condition you're forced to live in and grow up in created a special type of creativity whether it's music or crime," is how an industry executive explains the phenomenon.

Teejayx6 is one of a number of Detroit scam rappers (the show features a WDIV news clip on the arrest of another — Shredgang Boogz — who allegedly funded a tour with 3,000 stolen credit cards), but is said to be distinct in that his lyrics go into such great detail one could actually use them to make money. He even sells an electronic "fraud bible" that details scams involving everything from Uber Eats to the New York state unemployment system. (An FBI agent featured on the show says it's not illegal to sell such blueprints.)

At times it feels like Teejay is even trying to scam HBO. The purported value of his record deal seems dubious — mostly because he once posted to Twitter that it was worth only $5 million — and a lot of what he says doesn't jibe with comments he's made in past interviews. But he says he's getting paid for the show — at least $100,000, if his tweets are to be believed — and that an album named for it is forthcoming.

Asked whether he fears the cops will catch up with him, Teejay says Detroit has worse things to deal with and that he's only doing white-collar crime. He insists he's still scamming, defrauding people out of $40,000 in just the past few days, but his general manager claims Teejay dropped grifting to focus on music.

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