The reading took place during the first day of jury selection for Young Thug’s trial last week (January 4). After reading out an extensive list of Georgia laws that Young Thug and his associates have reportedly violated, which lead to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act being enforced, the Judge turns his attention to a song that the rapper released in 2016.
In a formal, deadpan delivery, Judge Glanville reads out the which include lines such as: “Hey, killing 12 shit/Hey, fuck a jail shit/Hey, cooking white brick” and “I’m in the VIP, and I got a pistol on my hip/You prayin’ that you live/I’m prayin’ that I hit.” The former is rapped by Young Thug himself in the song, while Yak Gotti raps the latter.
Watch the video below, with Judge Glanville’s reading beginning at 1:04:20:
Young Thug, along with 27 other people (including Gunna), was arrested on gang-related charges in May of 2022 for his connections to the musical collective known as YSL on suspicion that it is a “criminal street gang”. Both Young Thug and Gunna have long maintained their innocence since their arrests.
Young Thug has been denied bail three times, with Gunna also having his bail denied in the weeks following the arrests. The latter, however, was released in December following the entry of a negotiated plea – which will reportedly include 500 hours of community service.
Lyrics of both artists have been cited in their hearings since their arrests – a move which Gunna’s legal team has deemed “intensely problematic”.
“These lyrics are an artist’s creative expression, and not a literal recounting of facts and circumstances,” they said in a statement shortly after Gunna’s arrest. “Under the state’s theory, any artist with a song referencing violence could find [themselves] the victim of a RICO indictment.”
However, Fulton County district attorney Fanni Willis defended the state’s use of lyrics as evidence last August. “If you decide to admit your crimes over a beat, I’m gonna use it,” she said. “Don’t confess to crimes on rap lyrics if you do not want them used – or, at least, get out of my county.”
In December, it was reported that Dr. Erik Nielson, co-author of the 2019 book Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics and Guilt in America, will serve as a witness in the trial. Dr. Nielson is listed as a “lyric expert” and a “hip-hop historian” in the witness list. The YSL RICO trial officially began yesterday (January 9).
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