Yesterday opening statements were made for Young Thug’s RICO trial, which have already brought some viral moments as Thug’s defense attorney says that the prosecution is misrepresenting lyrics for the sake of evidence and begins to clear up some confusion in what the rapper’s name and lyrics truly mean.
Young Thug, legally known as Jeffery Williams, was arrested in May of 2022 alongside 27 others for a RICO indictment. The charges claim that the rapper’s label, Young Stoner Life Records or YSL, is truly a criminal street gang occupying the streets of Atlanta. The prosecution says the dangerous gang moves like “a pack of wolves” and are responsible for multiple violent crimes including armed robbery, hijacking, motor vehicle theft, possession of a machine gun and even murder. According to the prosecution, Young Thug is the “proclaimed leader” of the gang and the members answer to him.
Fulton County Chief Deputy District Attorney Adriane Love said: “They created a crater in the middle of Fulton County’s Cleveland Avenue community that sucked in the youth, the innocence and even the lives of some of its youngest members.”
Once the defense began their opening statements, Thug’s attorney Brian Steel told the court the exact opposite of Young Thug. Steel said: “He’s not the crater. He’s trying to pull people out of poverty.” Briefly detailing Thug’s life, Steel explained to the jury that the rap star grew up impoverished in Atlanta alongside his 10 siblings after being “born into a society filled with despair.” He says that Young Thug focused on his talent and work ethic to get to where he is today and promised himself that if he ever made it, he would help those in the same situation as him. Now here he is, an esteemed rap star worth “tens of millions of dollars,” making charitable contributions to his community, and the prosecution claims that his charity is a conspiracy.
One of the points of conspiracy listed by the prosecution included a car that was rented under Young Thug’s name being used by YSL members to execute a murder plan. Steel argued that Thug has helped his people multiple times by renting cars for them, and he cannot be held responsible for what they do once they pick the vehicle up.
The defense also argued that largest point of the case, the lyrics admitted as evidence, have been misrepresented to make Young Thug look like a criminal when he is not one. Beginning with the rapper’s artist name, Steel explained that Thug does not mean what everyone assumes, but instead was inspired by Tupac Shakur and stands for “Truly Humble Under God.” Steel also argued that the YSL Record label name was created to pay homage to one of Thugger’s favorite brands, Yves Saint Laurent.
Steel continued his defense, referencing Gunna’s “Pushin’ P” from 2022, which featured Young Thug and Future. Steel told the court that “Pushin’ P” actually stands for “Pushing Positivity,” he said: “It means, any circumstance you’re in, if you think positively about something, you can make it through. You’re pushing positivity.” Ultimately, Steel’s defense came down to this: “[Young Thug]’s not sitting there telling people to kill people. He doesn’t need their money. Jeffery is worth tens of millions of dollars.”
Witnesses are scheduled to be called upon today during the court’s next meeting time, with Young Thug allegedly taking the stand at some point during the trial.