In May 2022, news broke that rapper Young Thug had been arrested and charged for his involvement in a violent street gang and conspiring to violate Georgia's RICO Act. Today, almost 8 months since his arrest, the rapper's trial is finally set to begin. Young Thug, whose birth name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, will not stand alone. Gunna and many others will also be brought to the stand and questioned about their involvement. Here is everything you need to know...
According to the charges, Williams and Sergio Kitchens (Gunna) were allegedly the two main founders of the gang named Young Slime Life. YSL, which is also the name of Thug's record label, is accused of being a violent criminal organization. The indictment against them, which was filed in Fulton County, Georgia, is an 88-page document filled with numerous criminal acts they are believed to have committed since 2013. Many of the charges are based on lyrics included in Thug's music. In total, Williams is being charged with 8 separate crimes, all of which he has pleaded non-guilty to.
This high-profile case is part of the emerging trend to criminalize hip-hop artists under the RICO Act. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) laws were initially instilled to assist with the control of organized crime. They allow the authorities to access numerous people within a group if one of its members is known to be associated with criminal activity. This case has also brought to the forefront the ethicality of legally using a musician's lyrics against them. Just months after Young Thug's arrest, a bill was brought forward against this.
Jury selection is currently underway for the trial set to include many high-profile hip-hop artists. From Lil Wayne to Rich Homie Quan, there's no saying who will be called to the stand to testify. Williams maintains his innocence, with his lawyer telling ABC News that he "has committed no crime whatsoever." He concluded by saying they will "fight this case ethically, legally and zealously. Mr. Williams will be cleared." Stay tuned for all the trial updates and developments.