In the past decade, Young Thug has been a constant presence in the music industry. Atlanta hip-hop artist Young Thug dropped a regular flow of tracks that talk about pistols and mob life, snipers, and Gangsters.
“I never killed anybody, but I got something to do with that body,” Rapper MC AJ rapped in his song from the year 2018 ” Anybody,” with Nicki Minaj. “I advised the rappers to shoot 100 bullets … prepared to fight like I am Russia … I have all kinds of money. I’m general.”
By the year 2020, he was more assertive, suing an explicit demand to the authorities.
“Take this s– to mother– trial,” Young Thug rappers during 2020’s “Take It to Trial” alongside two other artists on the label Young Slime Life label, Gunna and Yak Gotti.
According to a massive 56-count indictment issued by the Georgia prosecutor’s office, These weren’t just sly dreams or boastful gimmicks.
This past Monday Georgia prosecutor’s arrested a young Thug whose actual name is Jeffery Lamar Williams was charged with a felony of being involved in gang activities and breaking the state’s Racketeer controlled and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law. The Grammy-winning rapper’s tweets and lyrics are the most significant part of the charges.
In an 88-page file, Fulton County prosecutors list the lyrics to nine of his songs, ranging from the 2014’s ” Eww” to the 2013 version of “Ski,” a collaboration with Atlanta rapper Gunna who is identified as an accused.
Prosecutors assert that the 30-year-old hip-hop artist, famous for his mellow, mournful flow and gender-bending style is a major organizer and founder of Young Slime Life, or YSL the street gang that committed or arranged to engage in criminal acts of violence, including murder, aggravated assault using weapons that could be deadly, armed carjacking, robbery, and drug trafficking.
If Williams was in court on Tuesday, and appeared before a Fulton County magistrate judge Tuesday, and is in jail until the case is heard by Superior Court, is convicted of the RICO Act charge, he could be sentenced to jail that could last as long as 20 years or an amount of $250,000 in fines.
Williams’s lawyer, Brian Steel, said the allegations against him — considered to be one of the most significant performances that emerged from Atlanta’s vibrant hip-hop scene “baseless,” and that Williams was “not involved with any criminal street gang activity whatsoever.”
The prosecutors say that Young Thug’s music isn’t an art form or works of art, but a form of propaganda created to lure new recruits to YSL and to inspire violent crimes.
It was the Fulton County prosecutor’s office has laid out an over a decade-long story that names Williams who grew up in Atlanta’s southwest Sylvan Hills neighborhood, as one of the three founding members of Young Slime Life, a local gang that was founded in 2012, which claims to have ties to the national Bloods group.
Utilizing Georgia’s RICO statute, prosecutors name Williams and 27 others as part of an illegal street gang who was involved in illegally obtaining funds and assets through racketeering, including murder or aggravated assault as well as the threat to commit violence.
In the context of RICO, a complex statute closely modeled after the federal law of 1970 which was used to convict the most powerful gangsters and mobsters who were involved in criminal organizations, a defendant must not have committed a crime in order to get convicted. Williams for instance, could not be required to commit a murder to be found guilty if he was found guilty of participating in a series of criminal activities.
In order to be found guilty for being found guilty, the state must establish that the defendant was guilty of at least two predicate crimes like theft or murder. They must also prove that the crimes were committed by two or more persons in a larger scheme of racketeering that the defendant was a part of or employed by.
Jeffery Lamar Williams a.k.a Young Thug One of 28 people charged charges in Georgia on Monday for conspiring to violate Georgia’s RICO Act and street gang charges.
Prosecutors contend that Young Thug was the one who Williams was a popular and advocations figure for YSL. His music and videos images, messages, and videos, they claim form part of a wider pattern of criminal activities, “protecting and enhancing the reputation, power, and territory of the enterprise” and “demonstrating allegiance to the enterprise and a willingness to engage in violence on its behalf.”
Five defendants, including rapper Yak Gotti who is actually Deamonte Kendrick — are accused of murder. Another suspect, Christian Eppinger, is accused of causing serious injury to the body of an Atlanta police officer during the February shooting. Quantavious Grier, Williams’s brother of the rapper known as Unfoonk is accused of theft after getting stolen items, including a Taurus 9-millimeter handgun. Sergio Giavanni Kitchens, the chart-topping Atlanta rapper, better known as Gunna has been accused of receiving property stolen as well as possessing drugs with the intention to distribute.
The indictment contrasts Williams and his accomplices with their alleged social media accounts songs, and telephone conversations in jail with specifics of people who have been victims of gunshots like Donovan Thomas Jr., an alleged gang member from another gang who was killed in front of a southeast Atlanta barbershop in. The indictment accuses Williams of leasing the silver Infiniti Q50 sedan that was involved in the committing of Donovan’s murder.
In a similar year, according to the prosecution members of YSL attempted to kill several men, and shot a gun at a woman called Denise Bell, “maliciously causing bodily harm and seriously disfiguring” her buttocks. They also fired at the bus that was traveling with Dwayne Carter Jr. The New Orleans hip-hop star is also called Lil Wayne.
Fulton County Dist. Atty. Fani Willis claimed Tuesday in an interview that Williams and the others mentioned in the indictment caused “havoc in our community.”
“It does not matter what your notoriety is, what your fame is,” she added. “If you come to Fulton County, Georgia, and you commit crimes — and certainly if those crimes are in furtherance of a street gang — you are going to become a target.”
Steel, Williams’ attorney spoke to the media on Tuesday during an interview on the phone that Williams has not committed any offenses.
“The indictment is frivolous,” he declared. “And we will contest it, and fight it ethically and in a lawful and fair manner. Williams will be cleared of any wrongdoing. Williams will be cleared of any infractions.”.
The use of rap lyrics and hip-hop culture aesthetics to place a defendant in a bad light should be considered with caution, according to Jovan Blacknell who is an attorney from Culver City attorney representing the relatives of Late South L.A. rapper Drakeo the Ruler.
Prosecutors utilized videos and song lyrics like “Flex Freestyle” as evidence that Drakeo was involved in a murder, and that the Since Team crew was a criminal gang that was violent. After two years in prison, Drakeo was acquitted of the murder charge and then released as part of a plea bargain.
Officials are reviving an old “flawed tactic of using young African American men’s art as a tool of incrimination,” Blacknell stated.
“These artists often express dramatizations of stories and events that persist in their communities,” he stated. “The U.S. government knows that lyrics to songs aren’t always accurate retellings of actual things, but they do seek to exploit racist stereotypes in order to attain an unjust goal. The use of these expressions as a weapon is a defiant kind of censorship that is in direct opposition to the most basic values of our nation.”
When asked about the use of lyrics from songs in the indictment Willis stated that she believed that in the 1st Amendment was one of “our most precious rights.”
“However, the 1st Amendment does not protect people from prosecutors using it as evidence if it is such,” she added. “In this case, we put it as overt and predicate acts within the RICO count, because we believe that’s exactly what it is.”
Prosecutors are not restricted to searching through Williams’s songs’ lyrics as well as social media messages and images that document the threat of violence as well as gang-related symbolism like flashing red hand signs to signal his gang’s loyalty.
They also charge Williams with being involved in two different offenses of felony theft for receiving a stolen firearm between 2013 and 2015. He also faces one criminal offense of terroristic threats in 2015 when he made threats against the security guard of Atlanta’s Perimeter Mall.
“If you continue to approach, I’ll shoot you in the face with a gun,” he was said to have said.
Prosecutors also claim that Williams helped in the plot through phone conversations he had with his friends.
In a discussion in 2020 regarding the theft of a car in a different defendant’s case, the government alleges that it was Williams who told another defendant “If he doesn’t take it back, he goin’ die.”
In a conversation in May 2021 with several defendants, prosecutors assert, Williams asked: “Y’all ain’t beat ’em up or shot ’em yet?”
He then said: “Y’all n– getting soft.”
The Black Democrat who was elected in 2020, and quickly ended up at the heart of the controversy about the possibility that former President Trump as well as his associates were involved in fraudulent election practices at the polls in Georgia, Willis has consistently declared that her main priority is tackling the gangs. Atlanta has seen a significant rise in violent crimes in recent years, however historically, gangs haven’t been as prevalent as in bigger cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.
“They are committing conservatively 75% to 80% of all of the violent crime that we are seeing within our community, and so they have to be rooted out of our community,” Willis stated on Tuesday. After her election in the fall, she said she met with the mom of Donovan Thomas Jr., who was killed within Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill neighborhood, and told to her daughter that she was just as significant as anyone else within the community.
Willis claimed that the indictment brought against the suspected members of YSL didn’t necessarily describe the specific crimes committed. Her investigators, she explained were focusing on the Ringleaders.
“We believe removing these 28 defendants will keep Fulton County safer,” she added.