A new update was made in the high-profile YSL RICO Case. After widespread backlash surrounding the use of artists' lyrics in court cases, an Atlanta judge ruled that he would allow Young Thug’s rap lyrics to be used as evidence during the trial.
With the trial kicking off later this month the judge feels as though the lyrics would have a large impact on the case. The trial will focus on Thug and his collective YSL, which prosecutors believe to have been a gang that committed numerous crimes over a decade including murders, drug dealing and more.
The decision came on the heels of the hearing held by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville about the use of lyrics as evidence. This practice has been a large topic of conversation in the music industry, with efforts by lawmakers to halt it. It has even gained the attention of filmmakers, which has resulted in the Hulu documentary surrounding the trial, Rap Trap. One of the biggest arguments made against the use of lyrics in court cases is that it violates the First Amendment.
Attorney Brian Steel, who is representing Thug in the upcoming trial, said in the hearing that prosecutors are attempting to use creative expression against his client.
“They are targeting the right to free speech, and that’s wrong,” he argued. “They are saying that just because he is singing about it, he is now part of a crime.”
However, Judge Glanville rejected that notion.
"They’re not prosecuting your clients because of the songs they wrote,” Glanville said from the bench. “They’re using the songs to prove other things your clients may have been involved in. I don’t think it’s an attack on free speech.”
Although Judge Glanville allowed for the use of lyrics as evidence, he said prosecutors would still need to establish why they were using them. Steel would also have the ability to object during the trial. Ultimately, it would be up to jurors to decide how much weight to give the lyrics presented in court.
Young Thug, Gunna and other alleged YSL members were indicted in May 2022. Gunna, along with other members reached plea deals or were separated from the case. Currently, only Thug and five other members are set to face a jury. If fully convicted, the rapper could face a life sentence.