For many years, district attorneys across the US have been hitting rappers, such as Young Thug, with RICO charges and using their lyrics as evidence. However, whether or not that is within the parameters of the law has been unclear until now.
Young Thug’s court case has been ongoing for over a year now, and a Fulton County judge has confirmed that the prosecution has the right to use lyrics as evidence. The plaintiff’s attorney has made a distinction with Mike Carlson, clarifying, “The question is not rap lyrics. The question is gang lyrics.”
The rapper’s legal team have fought tirelessly to have lyrics excluded from evidence, attempting to assure judges that rappers are telling fictional stories. Addressing the judge, YSL rapper Yak Gotti’s attorney, Doug Weinstein, stated, “Rap is the only fictional art form treated this way.”
Weinstein insisted that Yak Gotti is merely a character and does not reflect the actions or real life of any specific individual. Weinstein highlighted how musicians such as Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash never had their lyrics used against them in court.
However, the prosecution insisted there was never a correlation between the content of their lyrics and the crimes they committed. Explaining why he believed it is a false equivalence, Carlson explained, “We are aware that the Johnny Cash metaphor is here, but no one’s ever come up with … proof that Johnny Cash was ever accused of murdering a man in Washoe County, Nevada,” Carlson, said, referring to the 1965 hit ‘Folsom Prison Blues’.
With Young Thug’s lyrics on the 2018 Nicki Minaj track ‘Anybody’ reading, “I never killed anybody, but I got something to do with that body,” the prosecution was insistent that there is an explicit mention of proximity to crime and potential involvement in a murder.
The YSL trial is set to take place on November 27th, and the judge, Ural Glanville, has confirmed that the prosecution has the right to use 17 sets of lyrics as evidence if they can “lay the foundation” and successfully tie the verses to a specific crime.