Rapper Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffrey Williams, has been arrested in Atlanta on suspicion of gang involvement and conspiracy to violate Georgia criminal racketeering law.
The rapper’s arrest is a result of a larger grand jury indictment that named 28 members and associates of Young Thug’s record label, YSL (known as Young Stoner Life, Young Slatt Life and Young Slime Life).
In the indictment, YSL is characterised as a “criminal street gang” which was founded in 2012, with Young Thug alleged to be one of the three founding members of YSL.
This is everything you need to know about the situation.
Who is Young Thug?
Young Thug is an American rapper, best known for singles like Stoner, Danny Glover, featuring on Camila Cabello’s 2017 song Havana and for winning the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for his songwriting contribution to This is America by Childish Gambino.
He was born in Atlanta, and, speaking to Rolling Stone in 2014, said: “I was in the streets at eight, nine years old. I was going to school so my dad and mom would keep buying me clothes, but when I got out I did what I wanted to do - fighting, all kinds of s**t.”
He said that he was kicked out of middle school after breaking a teacher’s arm when an altercation turned physical, and spent the next four years in a juvenile-detention programme.
Talking about that time in his life, Young Thug said: “Seven in the morning to six in the afternoon. No windows or nothing, like a real jail.
“Lot of punishment. I didn’t do s**t there but gamble, smoke and f**k.”
He began his musical career in 2010 when he appeared as a guest rapper on the song She Can Go by TruRoyal. He eventually caught the attention of fellow Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane after releasing the first three parts of his mixtape series I Came From Nothing between 2011 and 2012.
Gucci Mane signed Young Thug to his 1017 Brick Squad Records label in 2013 and from there he started releasing more mixtapes.
In 2016, Young Thug announced that he was starting his own record label imprint, called YSL records.
His debut studio album, called So Much Fun, was released in 2019 and debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200. The album also included Billboard Hot 100 top 20 singles The London and Hot.
So Much Fun boasted guest appearances from the likes of Future, Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Baby, 21 Savage and Travis Scott.
In 2021, YSL Records, with Young Thug and Gunna, released their second compilation album called Slime Language 2, a followup to Young Thug’s 2018 compilation album called Slime Language. On October 15 2021, Young Thug released his second studio album called Punk.
Why has Young Thug been arrested?
The rapper was arrested on Monday (9 May) following a raid at his home, and has been detained at an Atlanta jail, pending his initial hearing on Tuesday (10 May).
According to jail records, he has been charged with “participation in criminal street gang activity” and conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act (RICO).
Young Thug has also been accused of a number of other charges in the indictment document, including: threatening to kill a man at a shopping centre; renting a car that was used during the murder of Donovan Thomas Jr in 2015; and intending to distribute methampethamine.
While he has been accused of these acts, Young Thug has not been charged with the individual offences.
According to prosecutors, Young Thug’s suspected gang activity took place on or between 12 May 2018 and 8 May 2022.
Speaking to WSB-TV, Young Thug’s lawyer, Brain Steel, said: “I’ll tell you the response to any allegation is Mr Williams committed no crime whatsoever and we will fight to my last drop of blood to clear him.”
Has Gunna been charged?
Gunna is another rapper who was named in the indictment, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens. Gunna is an American rapper who is signed to YSL Records.
He met Young Thus in December 2015 and went on to feature alongside Travis Scott and Gucci Mane on Young Thug’s song Floyd Mayweather from his 2016 mixtape Jeffrey.
Speaking to Billboard in 2018, Gunna said that he and Young Thug became close after the death of their mutual friend Troup.
He said: “When [Troup] died, that s**t brought us closer, me and Thug. It made us like family, regardless of the music.
“I locked in with him not even on no music s**t. We were cool before anything, he didn’t even know I rapped. It just built organically.”
Gunna has been indicted on a single count of violating the RICO act - while Gunna has not been arrested, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office confirmed to the New York Times that a number of others among the 28 defendants had been.
What are the allegations against other YSL members?
Alongside Young Thug and Gunna, 26 other associates of the YSL crew have been named in the 56 count indictment.
While all 28 defendants have been charged with conspiracy to violate RICO, Young Thug and Gunna’s fellow defendants have also been accused of a range of crimes, such as murder, attempted murder, robbery, witness intimidation, aggravated assault and dealing drugs.
Some of those named in the indictment include Yak Gotti, PeeWee Roscoe and Young Thug’s brother Unroonk.
Yak Gotti, whose real name is Deamonte Kendrick, is one of five who have been accused of the murder of Donovan Thomas Jr. Thomas Jr has been described by prosecutors as a “rival gang member”.
Listed as a victim in the 88 page indictment is Lil Wayne, whose tour bus was allegedly targeted in 2015 by a shooter who was a YSL associate.
In the indictment there is a section titled “acts in furtherance of the conspiracy” which mentions incidents which occurred between 2013 and 2022, such as PeeWee Roscoe’s 2015 felony offence of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. This conviction was overturned in 2018.
A number of the acts listed under the “acts in furtherance of the conspiracy” section are YSL-related songs, video, social media posts and lyrics that have been deemed “an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy”.
Included in the charges in the indictment is conspiracy to commit murder, in which it claims that Chritian Eppinger (listed in the document as “Bhris”) and Antonio Sumlin (“Obama”) talked about their desire to “obtain the permission” of Young Thug to make an attempt on the life of YFN Lucci.