Many keeping up with the recent RICO charges served against Atlanta rapper Young Thug and his YSL label, or gang if you believe what authorities suggest are the real motives of Young Slime/Stoner Life, know that the violence described in his rap lyrics were actually used as key evidence to make an arrest.
Kevin Liles, co-founder of YSL Records’ parent company 300 Entertainment, has teamed up with Atlantic Records COO Julie Greenwald to launch a petition that assures hip-hop creativity in the form of lyricism isn’t used to convict the artists behind the pen.
Launched as a campaign titled Protect Black Art, the initiative states that lyrics being used against musicians as court evidence is “a violation of their constitutional rights.” The mission statement posted in part on IG (seen above) goes on to state, “Today in courtrooms across America, Black creativity and artistry is being criminalized. With increasing and troubling frequency, prosecutors are attempting to use rap lyrics as confessions. This practice isn’t just a violation of First Amendment protections for speech and creative expression. It punishes already marginalized communities and silences their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph.”
Read more on why they’re going so hard for this issue, via Change.org:
“Currently in Georgia, multiple artists belonging to Young Stoner Life Records – including Grammy-winning artists like Young Thug – are facing more than 50 allegations, including RICO charges which claim the record label is a criminal gang. The allegations heavily rely on the artists’ lyrics that prosecutors claim are ‘overt evidence of conspiracy.’ In the indictment, Fulton County prosecutors argue that lyrics like ‘ready for war like I’m Russia’ are a confession of criminal intent.
This shameful and un-American practice must end. We urge the prompt adoption of legislation at the Federal and State level that would limit how prosecutors can use creative and artistic expression as evidence against defendants in criminal trials. We applaud the New York State Senate for passing S.7527 – the ‘Rap Music on Trial’ Bill – in May. We hope that it and similar Bills will become law across America to end this attack on our First Amendment freedoms that disproportionately harms Black and other minority artists.
We must protect Black art, creativity, and communities.”
Those interested in joining the fight by signing the petition can click here, but it’s worth noting that investigations on a RICO, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization, usually involve hard-hitting evidence retrieved for months by undercover agents. While lyrics may play a significant part, we’ve got to believe that Thug, Gunna and other YSL affiliates are being held in prison for far more incriminating reasons.
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