Opening arguments in the Young Thug, YSL trial will begin today in Fulton County. The trial is one of the more prominent cases where rap lyrics will be used as evidence in court. A few weeks ago, Judge (YouRal) Ural Glanville ruled that 17 different lyrics can be used as evidence against Young Thug and his co-defendants.
But rap lyrics are often filled with colloquialisms and slang terms that can be unfamiliar to those who are outside of the culture. As a result, defense attorneys have argued that the use of rap lyrics will have a prejudicial effect on jurors. They want art to be separated from real life.
On the other side, District Attorney Fani Willis has argued that some of YSL lyrics are inspired by real crimes that took place. Last year during a press conference, Wills said, “Don’t confess to crimes on rap lyrics if you do not want them used in court.”
There have been over 500 cases where prosecutors have used rap lyrics in court. In many instances, prosecutors have presented lyrics inaccurately or in misleading ways.
Earlier this year, Congressman Hank Johnson introduced a new proposal called the “RAP Act,” which would limit the use of lyrics as evidence in Federal Court and establish guidelines.
And in California, Gov. Gavin Newsome signed a bill in 2022 that became the first law in the U.S. that limits the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court. It ensures that creative expression can not be used to introduce stereotypes against the defendant.
There’s no such law in Georgia, but the defense will likely call on several witnesses who will argue against the use of rap lyrics in trial.
There are several correlations between Donald Trump and YSL as it relates to criminal indictments in Georgia. D.A. Fani Willis is using Georgia’s broad RICO statute for both cases. In Trump’s case, it’s his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.
If the Trump election trial begins in August 2024 as D.A. Fani Willis has proposed, both trials could take place simultaneously in Fulton County.
Another connection is that Trump’s lead attorney, Steve Sadow, also represented YSL rapper Gunna who was released after taking an Alford Plea.