Chart-topping rapper Gunna has been arrested as part of a massive RICO case that includes Young Thug and a number of other Atlanta artists. While Thug was arrested the afternoon of May 9, Gunna was not in custody until May 11.
Per the indictment, which can be read here, Gunna faces one count of “Conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act,” and lyrics from some of his hit songs are cited in the 88-page document.
The indictment alleges that the 28 named individuals are part of Young Slime Life, a “criminal street gang” founded in late 2012. In the first section of the document, “The Conspiracy,” the prosecution claims that YSL sought to increase its power and buoy its reputation “through acts of racketeering activity including murder, assault and threats of violence,” while also using the songs, videos, and social media posts of popular affiliated artists like Gunna to increase its influence and visibility.
2022 had been a tremendous year for Gunna professionally. His album, DS4Ever, debuted atop the Billboard Top 200 and was subsequently certified gold, and he scored a top 10 hit on the Hot 100 with “Pushin P.” The 28-year-old artist is signed to Young Thug’s YSL Records, and is considered one of the Atlanta iconoclast’s most successful proteges.
In the third section of the indictment, titled “Acts in Furtherance of the Conspiracy,” Gunna is accused of possession of various drugs with the intent to distribute, street gang activity, and having knowingly received stolen property. The indictment also references a May 2018 incident where Gunna and Thug were stopped for speeding, and a car that was “closely following” theirs contained guns. Gunna’s name is mentioned significantly fewer times than Thug’s throughout the indictment, and Thug is also facing a charge of “participation in criminal street gang activity” that Gunna is not.
Controversially, the indictment also cites a wide range of lyrics and social media posts from Gunna, Thug, and other YSL artists. Hip-hop lyrics have been used as evidence in several recent high-profile trials of artists, and, in 2019, The New Yorker’s Briana Younger drew attention to how that prosecutorial strategy hinges on racial prejudice.
“By introducing the work of a rapper into the courtroom, prosecutors are relying on racism to do its job—insisting that those in the courtroom accept, as fact, the worst kinds of stereotypes about this music and the people who make it,” Younger wrote.
In Gunna’s case, the lyric “We got ten-hundred round choppers” from Lil Keed’s “Fox 5” is listed, as well as his appearance in that song’s music video wearing jewelry that read “YSL” and “Slatt.” Bars from the 2021 songs “Ski” (“I tote an FN on me, call Neechie-Neech, it’s a Glock he keep / Duke Rollin’ 60’s, he locked in C’s”) and “Take It to Trial” (“Watch me whack that bitch, pop ’em like a cyst / Glock with the assist”) are cited as well.
Per ABC News, a lawyer for Gunna was not available to comment on the charges as of the morning of May 11 .