American rapper Young Thug arrested on gang-related charges, Gunna also charged | Tap

Young Thug, one of the most influential and successful rappers in the US who has twice topped the Billboard album chart, has been arrested on suspicion of gang involvement and charged with a number of other alleged violations.

Twenty-seven other employees of his record label Young Stoner Life (YSL, aka Young Slime Life) are named in the indictment, characterizing YSL as a street gang. Members are charged with a range of crimes, including murder and attempted murder, plus theft, witness harassment and drug trafficking. In a TV interview, Young Thug’s lawyer Brian Steel said the rapper “has committed no crime and that we will fight to the last drop of blood to purify him”.

Young Thug, real name Jeffery Williams, has been held in an Atlanta prison and will appear in a preliminary hearing on Tuesday. He is charged with “participation in criminal activities of street gangs”.

In the indictment, he is also charged with threatening the death of a man in a shopping center; renting a car used in the 2015 murder of a man, Donovan Thomas Jr; and plans to distribute methamphetamine – but he has not been charged with these individual offences, which are described as “overt acts” that further the wider criminal conspiracy.

All 28 defendants are also charged with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Rico) – which was passed to assist in indicting gangs and organized crime – with YSL.

Gunna photographed earlier this month. Photo: Stephen Lovekin/BEI/Rex/Shutterstock

Another successful rapper named in the indictment is Gunna, real name Sergio Kitchens, who is being charged on a single count of violating the Rico law. He also topped the US album chart twice, most recently in January with his album DS4Ever.

Gunna has not been arrested, but a spokesman for the district attorney’s office confirmed to the New York Times that others were among the 28 suspects.

Another YSL rapper, Yak Gotti — real name Deamonte Kendrick — is one of five accused in the murder of Donovan Thomas Jr. Three people accused of being members of the YSL are also charged with the attempted murder of rapper YFN Lucci, who was later stabbed in prison after being charged with murder.

The 88-page indictment names Lil Wayne as the victim, whose tour bus was allegedly shot at by a YSL employee in 2015.

Rap lyrics by Young Thug are mentioned in the indictment, charged with “an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy”. Certain of Gunna’s lyrics, and even his YSL-branded jewelry, have been charged with the same crime.

Citing texts as evidence of crime is controversial. In January, rappers like Jay-Z, Meek Mill and Killer Mike called for a change in New York law that would prevent rap lyrics from being used as evidence in criminal trials. The rappers Tekashi 6ix9ine, Tay-K and the late Drakeo the Ruler have all seen their lyrics quoted during their respective trials in recent years.

Celebrated for his expressive, inventive melodic flow, Young Thug is a musical figurehead in Atlanta, the city that has arguably become the center of American rap in recent years. In addition to scoring US No. 1 singles with Drake and Travis Scott, he appeared on hits with Post Malone, Migos and Megan Thee Stallion, and stepped into the pop world in 2017 with his performance on Camila Cabello’s US and UK No. 1 hit Havana. .

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