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.