The 88-page RICO indictment against rappers Young Thug and Gunna’s “YSL” gang contains song lyrics that are being used to prosecute them as well as dozens of alleged associates. 

Young Thug

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Here are nine times song lyrics were used in the indictment that swept up the popular rappers and 26 of their associates.

Can And Will Be Used Against You

Grammy-winning rapper Young Thug‘s lyrics are being cited as evidence in a sweeping 56-count gang indictment, again starting a debate concerning lyrics being protected free speech. Thug, born Jeffery Williams, and Gunna, born Sergio Kitchens, were swept up in a massive crackdown of 28 members of Atlanta’s YSL gang.  

The RICO indictments says the gang openly and brazenly displayed, professed, and promoted illegal activity – including the possession of contraband firearms, murder, intimidation, assault, and robbery – via their lyrics and music videos.  The lyrics in each song provided investigators with detailed and specific facts that they linked to specific crimes.  And when they swept the gang on May 12, prosecutors seized actual physical evidence to prove the rap lyrics were more than just entertainment. 

According to the 88-page indictment, YSL gave prosecutors in these 9 songs all they needed to build a solid case.

Exhibit A – H

Fans Call Foul

Many hip-hop fans are upset that song lyrics are being used in court to prosecute artists for their art. Fans feel that freedom of speech is supposed to protect artists from this form of prosecution and rappers Young Thug and Gunna are being unfairly prosecuted by the state of Georgia. On social media, many expressed their displeasure.

One user on Twitter, identified as @DebatingHipHop_, was upset with how Young Thug was being treated by the court system, tweeting “Young Thug wasn’t given a bond and will face a life sentence if convicted on all counts. They are treating him as the kingpin of YSL and are using lyrics against him.

They are also building cases on other Atlanta rappers including Lil Baby and Playboi Carti and more.” Another user on Twitter identified as @cadenceweapon implied that there was a racial bias in using lyrics against the hip-hop artist and not other notable music artists he tweeted, “The YSL RICO case cherry-picks certain Young Thug lyrics as evidence of a criminal conspiracy. But these famous words never attracted legal scrutiny:

Johnny Cash: “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die”

Why is artistic license viable for some artists but not for others?”

Additional reporting by Tatiana Pinheiro