Young Thug’s lyrics are being used against him in his racketeering case.
The rapper is among 28 defendants of the Young Slime Life collective who were named in a 56-count indictment, which includes charges ranging from drug and gun possession to murder. He was arrested on Monday in Fulton County on charges of Conspiracy to Violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and Participation in Criminal Street Gang Activity.
The indictment alleges that Thug, whose real name is Jeffrey Williams, was in possession of stolen weapons, and that he possessed with intent to distribute methamphetamine, hydrocodone, and marijuana. Prosecutors allege that two associates of YSL, Christian Eppinger and Antonio Sumlin, worked to “to obtain the permission of ‘Slime’ to make a second attempt to murder” YFN Lucci while he was in jail.
Thug is also accused of renting a car that was “used in the commission of the murder of Donovan Thomas, Jr., a rival gang member.”
— RapTV (@Rap) May 10, 2022
According to Rolling Stone, prosecutors are using Thug’s song lyrics and social media posts to portray him as a violent gang figure.
Lyrics from nine different songs were listed in the indictment, starting with 2014’s “Eww,” with the most recent being 2021’s “Ski” with Gunna.
The indictment also listed Thug’s 2018 collaboration with Nicki Minaj “Anybody” (“I never killed anybody but I got something to do with that body”), 2018’s “Just How It Is” (“Gave the lawyer close to two mil, he handles all the killings”), and 2020’s “Take It to Trial” (“For slimes you know I kill, trial, I done beat it twice, state, I’m undefeated like feds came and snatched me”).
Prosecutors alleged that Thug’s lyrics constituted “an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.” Social media posts by Thug and other YSL members were also cited in the case.
Thug’s attorney Brian Steel blasted the decision to use his client’s lyrics against him. “It’s offensive to take a musical artist’s poetry and then twist it out of context into crimes,” he said.
When asked about using the lyrics, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis responded, “I believe in the first amendment, it’s one of our most precious rights. However, the first amendment does not protect people from prosecutors using it as evidence if it is such. In this case, we put it as overt and predicate acts within the RICO count, because we believe that’s exactly what it is.”
There have been efforts to stop rap lyrics from being used in court. In January, lawmakers in New York introduced the “Rap Music on Trial” bill, which would limit the circumstances in which any form of “creative expression” can be shown as evidence of a crime to a jury. It received support from JAY-Z, Meek Mill, Big Sean, Fat Joe, and Killer Mike.
Thug, who remains in custody, made his first court appearance on Tuesday. His lawyer said he “committed no crime whatsoever,” adding, “We will fight till my last drop of blood to clear him.”
Gunna has also been named in the indictment and was charged with one count of conspiring to violate RICO.
One rapper who was not named is Jack Harlow. However, during a press conference, a reporter bizarrely asked the D.A. why the “First Class” rapper was missing from the indictment.
“The indictment’s got Young Thug and a bunch of other rappers. There was one name I was actually expecting to see there and I didn’t. And that’s Jack Harlow,” said the reporter. “Can you speak to that?”
Reporter: ‘The indictment’s got Young Thug, and a bunch of other rappers. But there’s one name I was expecting to see, and I didn’t, and that’s Jack Harlow. Can you speak to that?’
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis responds: pic.twitter.com/13YlMUFiAJ
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 10, 2022