Rapper Young Thug Goes To Trial: US rapper Young Thug is scheduled to testify today on charges that he helped create a street gang that commits violent crimes and used his music and social media to spread its message.
The musician, whose real name is Jeffery Lamar Williams and who is based in Atlanta, was accused alongside more than two dozen other individuals in a lengthy indictment in May of last year, and further accusations were added in a second indictment in August.
Another rapper, Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, was also charged with racketeering conspiracy and has now entered a guilty plea.
Who is Young Thug?
Young Thug, 31, started rapping when he was a youngster. He has since achieved great success, touring the globe and launching his record label, Young Stoner Life (YSL), of which he is CEO.
With the release of his mixtape “1017 Thug” in 2013, which included the well-known song “Picacho,” he first attracted a lot of attention.
Since then, he has put out a series of popular mixtapes and studio albums, including “So Much Fun” (2019), which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, “Jeffery” (2016), and “Barter 6” (2015).
The rapper, who currently enjoys over 26 million monthly Spotify listeners, has also appeared as a featured artist on many popular songs, such as “Havana” by Camila Cabello and “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” by Jamie xx. He also co-wrote the hit song “This is America” with Childish Gambino, which in 2019 became the first hip-hop song to win the Grammy for song of the year.
Why Is Young Thug Facing Charges?
Young Thug and 27 other Young Stoner Life employees were detained in May 2022 and charged in an indictment that claimed YSL was a violent street gang connected to the national Bloods gang.
The alleged gang members included in the indictment are accused of engaging in violent crimes, such as murders, shootings, and carjackings, of raking in money for the gang, enhancing its reputation, and increasing its influence and territory.
Rap lyrics, including one from a song they claim Young Thug posted on YouTube, are included in the accusations as overt conduct “in furtherance of the conspiracy,” according to the prosecution. “You pray that you live. I pray that I hit. I’m in the VIP, and I’ve got that pistol on my hip.”
“I never killed anybody, but I had something to do with that body,” reads another line from one of his songs cited in the indictment.
Young Thug was charged with narcotics and firearm offenses, racketeering conspiracy, involvement in criminal street gang activity, and other crimes in the second indictment issued in August.
A claim that Young Thug threatened to shoot a security worker who was attempting to persuade him to leave a mall in the Atlanta region in July 2015 was included in the accusations.
According to Williams’ attorney, he is acquitted on all counts.
Six of Young Thug’s associates, including “pushing P” rapper Gunna, will be tried later; four don’t have attorneys, and two haven’t been detained. Eight of Young Thug’s associates, including Gunna, have already accepted plea deals in the case.
In a statement made public by his attorneys, Gunna claimed that when he joined YSL in 2016, he did not view the organization as a “gang” but rather as “a group of people from metro Atlanta who had common interests and artistic objectives.”
His five-year sentence was suspended, and one year was converted to time served.
The amount of time Young Thug would serve in prison if found guilty of his accusations is not yet known.
The two other alleged co-founders of the YSL gang, Walter Murphy and Trontavious Stephens, each entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) last month. Murphy received a sentence of 10 years, nine years of probation, and one year was converted to time served. Stephens also received a 10-year sentence, with two years being converted to time already served and eight years of probation.
When Lyrics Become Evidence
A video of Judge Ural Glanville reading from Young Thug’s 2016 song “Slime Shit” during court proceedings on January 4th leaked on social media.
“Hey, this that slime shit, hey / YSL shit, hey / Killin’ 12 shit, hey / Fuck a jail shit, hey / … Cookin’ white brick, hey, hey / […] I’m not new to this, hey, I’m so true to this, I do put a whole slime on a hunnid licks,” recites the Judge in front of the courtroom.
A petition opposing the use of rap lyrics in court proceedings has already been circulated by Young Thug, asking his followers to sign it. The petition had more than 74,000 signatures as of the time this article was published.