Controversial Decision: Judge Permits Use of Young Thug’s Rap Lyrics in Upcoming Gang and Racketeering Trial

Young Thug attends a hearing on the YSL case in Atlanta on Dec. 22, 2022.

In a pivotal ruling, Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville granted prosecutors the right to use rap lyrics as evidence in the forthcoming trial of rapper Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Lamar Williams. The trial, set to begin on November 27, involves charges of gang activity and racketeering.

Prosecutors are poised to introduce 17 sets of Young Thug’s lyrics, asserting a direct correlation to the alleged crimes. The defense had sought to exclude these lyrics, citing them as constitutionally protected speech and potentially prejudicial. Young Thug was indicted alongside more than two dozen individuals, with some defendants already reaching plea deals or awaiting separate trials.

The prosecution claims that Young Thug co-founded a violent criminal gang named Young Slime Life (YSL) in 2012, affiliated with the national Bloods gang. They allege the rapper utilized his music and social media presence to bolster the gang’s notoriety, linking it to numerous violent offenses including murders, shootings, and carjackings. Young Thug’s attorneys counter, describing YSL as merely a music label and not a gang entity.

Young Thug, a highly successful artist and founder of the Young Stoner Life music label, has been influential in the music industry. The term “Slime Family” refers to artists on his label, and their album “Slime Language 2” topped charts in April 2021. He also co-wrote “This is America” with Childish Gambino, a song achieving historical recognition at the Grammys.

Georgia’s broad gang and anti-racketeering laws underpin the indictment. The defendants are accused of conspiring to breach the anti-racketeering law, with their rap lyrics alleged as contributing acts to the conspiracy.

Prosecutor Mike Carlson emphasized that the focus is on “gang lyrics” rather than rap lyrics in general, arguing that these are admissions of criminal intent and action. Meanwhile, prosecutor Simone Hylton categorized the lyrics into three groups: those illustrating YSL as an enterprise, evidencing the gang’s actions, and confirming Young Thug’s leadership role within YSL.

Defense attorney Doug Weinstein, representing defendant Deamonte Kendrick (Yak Gotti), contended that rap is uniquely targeted in legal proceedings as indicative of criminal behavior. He argued that the lyrics represent artistic expression rather than real-life admissions, warning that their violent and extreme nature could unjustly sway the jury against the defendants.

Chris Morris
Author: Chris Morris

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