During the month of March, police arrested Young Stoner Life (YSL) record label rappers, Young Thug and Gunna as well as multiple other alleged YSL affiliates on a RICO charge. Authorities suspect that YSL is more than a record label, but a fully-run gang. 

Referred to as RICO, the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act was created by the federal government to combat and take down organized crime organizations, gangs and Mafia mobs. Although the RICO act targets these organizations, only 35 crimes make up the list associated with the act. These include gambling, murder, kidnapping, extortion, arson, robbery, bribery, death and counterfeiting. RICO contains four main elements: proof that an enterprise or organization exists, interstate commerce, employment by the enterprise, and that affairs were conducted by employees or associates of the enterprise. 

“The sentence one might receive for a RICO charge reaches up to 20 years and also depends on the defendant’s criminal history,” law student Lexi Deagen said. 

Prosecutors assume that Young Thug, also known as Jeffery Williams, acts as one of the ringleaders in the YSL gang. Williams was accused of renting a car that was used in the commission of murder and he was also charged with an attempt to murder rapper YFN Lucci. Legal authorities already had their eye out for Thug for previous crimes, such as possession of illegal substances and firearms. To further accuse Williams, authorities used lyrics from his previous songs as evidence. Although some may say that this violates the 1st Amendment’s freedom of expression, this amendment does not protect defendants from prosecutors using their song lyrics against them. 

Gunna, also known as Sergio Kitchens, received a RICO charge at the same time as Young Thug and turned himself in hours after Young Thug was arrested. Prosecutors have accused him of offenses such as stolen property and illegal drug distribution. Gunna was recently denied bail by a Georgia judge regarding his case, however, he still pleads innocent. 

“I listen to Young Thug every once in a while, I’m a pretty solid fan, especially Gunna, I think the RICO charge might honestly help the record label because people are going to want to help them. Also, the more it gets in the public eye it’s going to get the label more attention and make them more popular. For the rappers individually though, they’re in jail so that’s never good.” UGA journalism student Sebastian Baggett said.

Not only does this change impact the YSL rappers and the record label, but it affects the fans as well. With multiple popular artists signed to YSL, the charges against these rappers caused disappointment among fans. As a result, the label will lose both money and record sales.

“Those rappers are some of the most popular in Atlanta and we need them to put out music. As a fan, I don’t know what we’re going to do without their music. I don’t know for sure what they did and I’m kinda 50/50 about whether they did it or not, but I hope they are innocent because without them, what will we listen to?” said a UGA Student. 


Ren Lloyd

Raised in the city of Atlanta, but born in Austell, Georgia, Ren Lloyd has experienced multiple failures and successes while finding her calling in the Journalism field. As a young girl she focused heavily on academics and putting school work and grades before anything else. During elementary school she constantly maintained A’s and B’s in her classes. However, her studies only took up about 50% of her time. She played piano and practiced religiously. She even learned how to play “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven as a 1st grader in elementary school. During her lifetime she took on a plethora of hobbies including gymnastics, swimming, ballet and cheer. However, none of these hobbies seemed to pique her interest. As she began her journey to middle school, she saw herself slipping, becoming more aware of herself. As the only person of color in her class, she struggled to maintain her culture and her identity, constantly feeling left out. Her bubbly, extroverted personality seemed to clash with the rigorous, serious mannerisms of the students in her class. She put up a front that did not match her true personality and led to insecurity and depression, Later in middle school, she found a love for writing. She wrote, short stories, narratives, and essays of all sorts, and even wrote for her school Yearbook. Leading into High School she became more sure of herself and her future. She continued her passion for writing by participating in North Cobb High School’s newspaper staff. Now she will edit Opinions pieces for her page and she strives to attend UGA with a major in Journalism and a minor in Communications. Although she took a while to find herself in the chaotic thing called life, she knows what she wants and she will climb mountains to achieve it.

Joe Dennis: The One-Trick Pony

Rock junkie, fedora wearer, journalist, professor, announcer and coach Dr. Joe Dennis took a 46-year-long journey through life to discover his strengths, flaws, and ability to change the world through writing.
“The first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a baseball player, but I wasn’t very good at it so the next thing I wanted to do was to be a rockstar but I literally tried every instrument and sucked…So really I wanted to be part of the music culture, so being a disc jockey, because I wanted to be a radio star, is what I went to college for.” Dennis said.

Although Dennis seemed to struggle to find his calling, his fondness for a girl opened up a new door for him. It opened a door to a career that took him more places than being a rockstar or baseball player ever could. Some people call it lying, and some call it fake news, but Dennis calls it journalism. His journalism career helped him expand his reach, form connections, and express what he felt was important.

“I remember my orientation leader was a sports editor for the newspaper at my college and he said ‘Hey Joe I know you’ve dabbled in some journalism, can you write volleyball for me…I started as a sports journalist and the professor said ‘Hey Joe you’re really good at this you should pick this up as a major. Then I eventually got into other areas of journalism,” Dennis said.

However, Dennis did not give up music completely. As a child, he gained his fondness for Rock music from his older cousin and he loved it ever since. He questions the new music of today, but he feels like music is subjective and it depends on the listener. No one should feel obligated to judge another’s music taste because music caters to different people.

“Music is something that has even stayed with me to this day and it’s interesting because my kids listen to music that I consider weird music and I never thought I’d be so old that I thought other music was weird, but I totally respect their taste in music….I respect it because music is very personal to people. Yes, it’s subjective, you don’t like some music, but no one sucks because music is like art, some people love it some people don’t and that’s ok.” Dennis said.