(& Hip Hop) Should Rejoice At The Indictment of Young Thug.
Written By Jomo K. Johnson
(Author of Deadest Rapper Alive: The Biography of Lil Wayne)
On Tuesday, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported that Grammy-winning rapper Young Thug was charged with multiple felonies with seven more charges added on Wednesday the 11th. He was arrested earlier this week after he and 27 other members of his Young Slime Life (YSL) gang were named in a broad gang indictment.
Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffrey Williams, was arrested on charges of gang activity and trying to break the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). According to records from the county jail, Williams now faces more charges, including having drugs with the intent to sell them and having a gun while committing a crime.
For those like myself who are from the Atlanta region, (my two sisters still live there) this indictment was long overdue. Atlanta has been a haven for popular trap rappers to flood their wealth from music into criminal activity such as drugs, murder, extortion, and violent retaliation. For those who live outside of the Atlanta region, YSL has always been more than a music clique, but a mafia-type organization used to enforce what Yung Thug and YSL would call, the code, only to maintain a certain level of street influence in Atlanta, GA. Those who have connections to the family and friends of YSL members, including popular rapper Duke, have known they have been a criminal enterprise for years.
The indictment of the talented rapper is an extremely bold move by the Atlanta District attorney that should be commended. The popularity of the rapper and his connections both inside and outside of law enforcement circles run deep. But Jeffery Williams, operated as if he was above the law, using his money, wealth, and ability to travel to shield him from the reality that he was pouring money into the Atlanta drug and gang scene, only to reap the profits with street loyalty to him and all of his YSL associates.
Hip Hop should rejoice at the RICO indictment against the rapper and his associates. But they won't. They will still play his songs that celebrate the deaths of over 34 Atlanta Black men, whom they refer to as OPS. As long as rappers like thug can put actual murders on a catchy beat and tight hook, he will always be celebrated.
The number of drugs and guns that the street gang distributed throughout his 10-year career will never be fully known. But according to documents obtained by Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne, at the time of his arrest, Williams was in possession of 20 Bottles of YSL Slime Drink (containing THC), 1,299 grams of marijuana, 31 bottles of promethazine codeine syrup -- a schedule V controlled substance, a Glock 30S .45 caliber firearm, a Glock 357 firearm, a FN Five Seven firearm, a Glock 19 9mm firearm, a Smith & Wesson M&P firearm, and a fully automatic Glock 45 9mm handgun with an extended magazine with a converter switch. Further evidence also suggests that YSL initiated a huge number of straw gun purchases in the city, using female fans with clean records to purchase scores of semi-automatic weapons, only to resale and distribute to convicted felons or hittaz throughout the city.
YOUNG THUG & R. KELLY
What is more shocking, is that as part of the indictment, many of Thug's own lyrics were used against him, as he portrayed in graphic detail the murder of over five of his rivals in the lyrics being used against him. Similar to R. Kelly, the rapper has given us clues about his misdeeds for years. But as vile as depraved as R. Kelly was and is, I contend that Young Thug and YSL gang members are worse. Young Thug's victims cannot heal because they are dead.
The outdated argument that Hip Hop only reflects life is shown to be asinine at this point. Rappers do not tell stories of their past lives of crime. Rappers like Thug and Gunna commit crimes in order to make their music, using the profits to further solidify their street reputations, while committing acts that terrorize urban communities.
HIP HOP & UKRAINE
In the last three months, the world has seen violent atrocities in Ukraine, as civilians have been murdered and killed by genocide by Russians. The images of horror will haunt the victims forever. But locally, on a micro-level, gangs like YSL, take part in far less visible genocide, against Black men and women in Atlanta, leading to countless deaths, addictions, and overdoses due to their criminal activity. Hip Hop fans must look at such music and know that the violence over lyrics, is no longer art, it's a reality that hundreds of mothers who have lost sons and daughters (primarily Black) know all too well.
Yes, it is a good thing that Young Thug is gone. Atlanta should rejoice. Hip Hop should too.