Young Thug, Gunna, and more than two dozen people associated with the label and artists’ collective Young Slime Life were indicted on gang-related charges on May 9. The 88-page grand jury indictment refers to YSL as a “criminal street gang” and lists 182 different acts — including instances of members wearing clothing or accessories with the word “Slime” — that were allegedly “in furtherance” of this collective conspiracy. Individual charges included murder, attempted robbery, and aggravated assault with a weapon. Georgia prosecutors also charged all 28 defendants with conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by engaging in a pattern of illegal activity to obtain money and property. And controversially, rap lyrics from the Grammy-nominated musicians, including a posthumous Juice WRLD single, are also included as evidence.
This isn’t the first time that rap music has been brought up during trials. In 2012, a Louisiana judge ruled that some lyrics from “187” could be admitted as evidence in Boosie’s murder trial. When Bobby Shmurda was accused of leading a gang connected to several crimes in 2014, his hit “Hot Nigga” was publicly scrutinized, though the lyrics weren’t formally cited as evidence in the case. “I’m guilty for where I live,” he told Vulture at the time. “I was never part of no gang.” More recently, prosecutors used the late Drakeo the Ruler’s lyrics to accuse him of murder in 2019. That same year, 6ix9ine’s lyrics were introduced in court during his trial for gang-related charges. The practice of using rap lyrics as evidence doesn’t always lead to convictions; Boosie and Drakeo the Ruler were both acquitted. But regardless of whether the charges are true, critics say that the hyperbole in rap can unfairly sway a jury, noting that the practice has a disproportionate impact on Black and brown defendants. After Maryland’s highest court ruled in December 2020 that rap lyrics could be admitted as evidence in a murder trial, veteran attorney Dina LaPolt told Variety that the decision was “blatantly racist” and set “a dangerous precedent.”
Earlier this year, Jay-Z and other prominent artists publicly lent their support to Senate Bill S7527, a New York bill known as “Rap Music on Trial,” which would acknowledge that rap is a form of artistic expression and limit the use of lyrics in criminal cases. The proposed legislation argues that the practice turns criminal courts “into instruments for suppressing provocative speech” and ignores “the foundational principle that a criminal case should be tried on the facts and not on a person’s ‘propensity’ to commit the crime.” The bill passed in committee in late January and is currently on the floor calendar for a Senate and Assembly vote. “No one ever thought that Johnny Cash was going to shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die or Bob Marley shot a sheriff but spared a deputy,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman, who sponsored the bill, told Fox 5 NY. “That’s exactly what prosecutors are trying to convince juries about across the country.” Listen to the tracks and read the lyrics included in the lengthy YSL indictment below.
“Slime Shit,” Young Thug feat. Yak Gotti
“Hey, this that slime shit, hey, YSL shit, hey, killin’ 12 shit, hey, fuck jail shit, hey”
“Cooking white brick”
“I’m not new to this, hey, I’m so true to this, hey / I done put whole slime on hunnid licks”
“Slime or get slimed”
“I’m in the VIP and I got that pistol on my hip / You prayin’ that you live I’m prayin’ that I hit, hey, this that slime shit”
“Fuck, fuck the police (fuck ’em), in a high speed”
“Huindred [sic] rounds in a Tahoe”
“I’m prepared to take ’em down”
“Got banana clips for all these niggas actin’ monkey”
“This that slim [sic] shit, this that mob shit”
“Fuck the judge, YSL, this that mob life”
This 2016 Young Thug track featuring Yak Gotti contains the first lyrics to be cited in the indictment.
“Original Slime Shit,” Young Thug feat. Yak Gotti
“Murder gang shit”
“YSL until we’re dead and pale”
According to prosecutors, Young Thug and Antonio Sumlin threw up YSL “gang signs” to these lyrics on social media in 2017.
“Anybody,” Young Thug feat. Nicki Minaj
“I never killed anybody but I got something to do with that body”
“I told them to shoot a hundred rounds”
“Ready for war like I’m Russia”
“I get all type of cash / I’m a general”
Young Thug denies ever taking anyone’s life in this 2018 song but doesn’t shy away from references to violence.
“Bad Boy,” Juice WRLD feat. Young Thug
“You better watch the way you breathe around me ’fore that breath be your last, boy”
“Smith & Wesson .45 put a hole in his heart better not play with me / Killers they stay with me”
“I shot at his mommy / Now he no longer mention me”
“I had on Margielas when I shot at the cunt / Act like you want war and they gon’ smoke you like a blunt”
Young Thug features on the posthumously released Juice WRLD song, which is named in reference to the buddy-cop franchise starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.
“Just How It Is,” Young Thug
“I escaped every one of the licks cause I was supposed to be rich / I don’t care nothing ’bout no cop, I’m just tellin’ you how it is”
“Hit ’em with the MAC now / Now his whole body scabbed”
“I done for the crew / I done did the robbin’ / I done did the jackin’ / Now I’m full rappin’”
“Last nigga tried me almost got popped in Lenox / Ask the cops, ask the detectives, they know all the business / Ask the cops and the detectives, all the jurisdictions”
“Gave the lawyer close to two mil / He handles all the killings”
“We don’t speak ’bout shit on wax / It’s all mob business / We know to kill / The biggest cats of all kittens”
The official lyrics for the 2019 track are actually “I done fucked her crew,” not “I done for the crew,” as written typed in the indictment.
“Mob Ties,” Unfoonk feat. 24 Heavy and Slimelife Shawty
“And we ride round with guns probably big as us / And we be on some 2Pac shit, ‘Hit Em Up’”
“Nigga play with Unfoonk and get hogtied / Nigga play with Unfoonk, then they all die / Talking ’bout knocking off your big homie, even his small fry, why would I lie”
“Old murder never switching up / You say you niggas gangsters, you ain’t did enough / Spin the block couple times think they did enough / Hail Mary, 2Pac shit, I’m bout to ‘Hit Em Up’”
“Every nigga around me wicked, like why would lie / Slime ball nigga like ya ya ya”
“Why would I lie? / Got mob ties”
“Tell them spin bend / They send shots flying”
“Knockin’ off yo big homie, bitch”
The indictment adds that Slato/Miles (Miles Farley), Unfoonk (Quantavious Grier), Yak Gotti (Deamonte Kendrick), and Slimelife Shawty (Wunnie Lee) flashed what they call “gang signs” to the lyrics of this 2020 track.
“Fox 5,” Lil Keed feat. Gunna
“We got ten hundred round choppers”
Prosecutors note that Gunna wore YSL and Slatt pendants in a video for the the 2020 song.
“Where You From?,” Slimelife Shawty
“Free lil Rod”
“Fuck your squad”
“Where you from? / I’m from Bleveland / Throw your set up”
“But where I’m from nigga talk too much then get wet up”
“The opps hate the crew we getting this paper and we ducking cases, slime, slime”
“Free Lil Shannon”
“I’ma rock that crew thuggin”
“Ain’t know about tick”
“Slimelife Young Thug nigga”
Slimelife Shawty and Slato/Lil Miles appear in this 2020 music video.
“Take It To Trial,” Young Thug, Yak Gotti, and Gunna
“Take this shit to motherfucking trial”
“For slimes you know I kill, trial / I done beat it twice, state / I’m undefeated like feds came and snatched me, don’t know / No point in asking / I was on Bleveland / Stuck like a magnet / Bitch
ass nigga / I shoot at your mammy / Need to stand down / I up my stamina / Take it to trial, get an appeal, take it to trial / Yeah, you gon’ wack ’em”
“Pay for that casket / That’s just if we whack ’em”
“My young niggas pulling up / Bentleys, Aston Martins, Raris and Teslas / Strapped with FN, choppas, carbons”
“YSL slimey and shady”
“Watch me whack that bitch / Pop ’em like cyst / Glock with the assist”
In this 2020 track, Young Thug, Gunna, and Yak Gotti rap about not being afraid to go to court.
“Slatty,” Young Stone Life, Young Thug, and Gunna
“I killed his man in front of his momma / Like fuck lil bruh, sister, and his cousin”
“I shoot out”
“Kill ’em, not leaving a trace”
“I had to break in the safe, yeah, and I didn’t leave ’em a trace”
“Dissect your body like science class, nigga”
“Gangster cause you got a body, lil nigga, magazine clips, so you might get your issue, you think you gangster cause you got a pistol”
“Look at my trigger, my trigger start itching”
“YSL, we going overboard”
This track was featured on the 2021 YSL compilation album Slime Language 2.
“Ski,” Young Thug and Gunna
“I fuck with slatts and we come to eat rats and I came with some fuckin’ piranhas”
“I tote an FN on me / Call Neechie-Neech / It’s a Glock he keep”
“Duke Rollin’ 60’s / He locked in C’s”
The last lyrics to be cited in the indictment come from “Ski,” released in April of last year.