Young Thug song lyrics used as evidence in gang indictment

Young Thug song lyrics used as evidence in gang indictment



CNN

Grammy-winning rapper Young Thug’s lyrics are cited as evidence in a 56-count gang indictment, again sparking debate over whether the lyrics are protected by freedom of speech. expression.

According to the 88-page indictment obtained by CNN, lyrics from the rapper’s popular songs — including “Slime Sh*t,” “Original Slime Sh*t,” and “Anybody” — were used as examples of ” overt acts”, some of which constitute racketeering. Prosecutors allege Young Thug, real name Jeffery Williams, founded the Young Slime Life gang in late 2012 and was a key figure in various YSL activities. Rapper Gunna, real name Sergio Giovanni Kitchens, is also accused in the document. Williams was arrested Monday at his home in Atlanta, police said.

Most notably, prosecutors said that in 2015, Williams leased an Infiniti Q50 sedan from Hertz, which was later used in the murder of a rival gang member. There are also references that describe Williams as the leader of the YSL gang, as two associates discussed how to get his permission to attempt to murder rapper YFN Lucci while incarcerated.

“I’m ready to take them down”, “murder gang sh*t” and “I never killed anyone but I have something to do with this body” are just a few of the dozens of lines referenced in the ‘indictment.

Lyrics from other popular rappers referencing ties to Young Slime Life are also cited in the indictment, along with social media posts.

Williams was incarcerated in Fulton County Jail and charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and participation in criminal street gang activity.

This is not the first time that song lyrics have been used by prosecutors. In 2019, prosecutors questioned Brooklyn rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine about the lyrics to his song “GUMMO,” asking if it included threats to his rivals. In 2017, prosecutors attempted to use Drakeo the Ruler’s “Flex Freestyle” as evidence that he conspired to murder another rapper.

Not everyone agrees with allowing prosecutors to use the lyrics as evidence. In “Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics and Guilt in America” ​​by Erik Nielson and Andrea L. Dennis, rapper Killer Mike argues that rap as an art form is a safe space where raw emotions can and must be expressed.

“If left unchecked, this has the potential to silence a generation of artists exercising their First Amendment right to speak out,” he wrote. “These are voices we should encourage, but our criminal justice system has always looked for ways to punish them.”

Killer Mike also noted that other artists in genres other than rap are often celebrated for their dark lyrics, while rappers are reviled.

Last year, New York state senators introduced the ‘Rap Music on Trial’ bill, which would prevent art – including song lyrics – from being used as evidence. in criminal cases. Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Big Sean and Kelly Rowland have all backed the bill, as have other musicians.

But Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sees it differently.

“I believe in the First Amendment; it is one of our most precious rights. However, the First Amendment does not protect people from prosecutors using (the lyrics) as evidence if they do,” Willis said at a press conference Tuesday. “In this case, we place it as overt and predicate acts in the RICO count because we think that’s exactly what it is.”

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