The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Lawyer Argues Young Thug’s Innocence in RICO Trial

Jeffery Lamar Williams, known by his stage name Young Thug, is facing trial under accusations of conspiring to break Georgia’s RICO law under a gang that he allegedly founded, Young Slime Life, also known as YSL. Williams faces charges on counts of armed robbery, attempted murder, murder, witness intimidation, and drug dealing. The trial began on November 28 and is taking place in Atlanta. Williams has thus far pleaded not guilty to any charge. During the proceedings, the attorneys have been making unorthodox claims about their clients to defend them.

According to USAToday, William’s lawyer, Brian Steel, referenced the rapper’s name to defend his client. Steel claimed the rapper’s stage name stands for “Truly Humble Under God,” using this argument to try and prove the innocence of his client. Steel also claimed that despite Williams being born into poverty, he was able to use his hard work and talent to make a living, while also using his earnings to give back to the community. Steel also said that Williams was trying to use his wealth to dig people out of a crater of poverty, although prosecutor Adraine Love has disputed this, claiming that this crater of poverty was created by YSL. 

The trial and the charges against Williams are based on accusations that he, along with his associates, conspired to break Georgia’s RICO law under YSL. One of the pieces of evidence being used against Williams in the case is the lyrics to his music, which prosecutors say allude to crimes that have allegedly been committed by members of YSL. However, Steel has rebuked the claim, stating that the lyrics have been taken heavily out of context, also adding that lyrics to Williams’s music should not be used against him. Steel also claimed that the title of the song “Pushin P,” a collaboration between Gunna and Williams, stands for “pushing positivity.” Unfortunately for Williams, Gunna, whose birth name is Sergio Kitchens, acknowledged as part of his plea hearing that YSL was both “a music label and a gang.” The choice to take this plea deal has resulted in Gunna receiving backlash from the Hip-Hop community, and it certainly did not help Williams’s case. 

The 32-year-old rapper from Atlanta originally rose to fame after signing with Gucci Mane’s Record Label, 1017 Records. He went on to create his record label, YSL Records, and collaborated with big names such as Drake, Kanye West, Travis Scott, and Camila Cabello. Williams describes his life growing up as erratic and wracked with crime. “I was in the streets at eight, nine years old,” he said in a Rolling Stones article. After getting into trouble for most of his life, Williams decided he wanted to do something different. “Anyone can rap if you’ve got brains,” he said. This led him to release his first mixtape in 2011, and by 2013 he was a big name nationwide. 

The trial itself has been suspended as a defendant in the case, Shannon Stillwell, was stabbed in jail, according to Complex. All activity concerning this case is on hold until January 2, 2024. Williams’s racketeering conspiracy charges could result in 5-20 years of prison time, as well as additional time from the other charges. 

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About the Contributors
Val Reyes
Val Reyes, Guest Writer
Val Reyes ('26) is excited to write stories in The Echo about pop culture, current events, and student life. In her free time, she likes music, painting, and baking pastries.
Brian Oh
Brian Oh, Guest Writer
Brian Oh ('26) recently started writing for The Echo. He is looking forward to writing about student life. In his free time, he enjoys learning about urbanism and playing video games.