Young Thug faces many accusations from Fulton County’s district attorney, including that he was allegedly a founder and active leader of the violent Young Slime Life street gang.
Clocking in at 80-plus pages, the indictment charges both Thugger and another rapper, Gunna, with gang-related crimes and includes more than 25 others who have allegedly participated in YSL gang activity.
The rapper’s songs are listed in the indictment as evidence of an “overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
Lyrics such as: “I never killed anybody, but I got something to do with that body,” and “I killed his man in front of his momma.”
The indictment points to these words being used after the murder of Donovan Thomas, the leader of a rival gang. One of the people charged with his death — is a member of Thug’s YSL recording label.
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District Attorney Fani Willis answered whether the lyrics were protected under free speech.
“I believe in the First Amendment; it's one of our most precious rights. However, the First Amendment does not protect prosecutors from using it as evidence if it is such,” Willis said Tuesday at a press conference.
Using rap lyrics as evidence is not new — but there are conflicting results.
Rapper Tekashi69’s lyrics were used in his 2018 trial, where it was discovered he was not a gang member, even though he said he was in his songs.
In 2016, rapper Tay K was convicted of murder, using a music video as evidence.
And in 2018, rapper Vonte Skinner’s lyrics were used in his attempted murder trial. His conviction was overturned when the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled the jury wouldn’t have found him guilty if they weren’t made to listen to the lyrics.
Thug’s attorney maintains Thug’s rap label is not a street gang, and there’s no basis to include the rapper in the indictment.
Attorneys not associated with this case said that even if Thug is a gang member, it will be challenging to prove he had knowledge and intent of crimes committed by other members.