Young Thug and Gunna are part of an American record label based in Atlanta, which goes by the name YSL. Young Stoner Life or Young Slime Life members were charged with a RICO case on the grounds of association with several street gangs and criminals and involvement in crimes such as homicide and attempted robberies. Although several members, including Young Thug, are still serving their sentences, Gunna took a plea deal and was released in December 2022. Stay with us till the end of the article to know the finer details of their case, along with its implications on their personal and professional life.
Their Professional Career
Jeffery Lamar Williams II, known globally as Young Thug, Thugger, or SEX, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 16th, 1991. The American rapper, songwriter, and record producer has gained decent fame and popularity with his music and striking personality.
His professional career started in 2011 after the release of his first mixtape, "I Came from Nothing," which not only turned the heads of the audience but also of Gucci Mane, who later convinced Thug to sign a contract for his 1017 Brick Squad Records label.
From there onwards, his career took a hike, especially after the release of 1017 Thug. The mixtape was labeled as 2013’s best mixtape by The Guardian, FACT, and Complex. In 2016, he founded YSL Records, through which he released numerous mixtapes that ranked as high as No. 1 on the US Billboard 200. His first single, "Havana," with Camilla Cabello, ranked 1st on the Billboard 100. His collaborations with artists like J. Cole, Chris Brown, and Travis Scott glorified his professional career even further, with his albums regularly ranking on the Billboard charts. Thug's "Way 2 Sexy" with Drake was the 3rd time the rapper achieved the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
His latest net worth is estimated at around 8 million dollars.
Sergio Kitchens, who later gave himself the rap name Gunna, was born on 14th June 1993 in Atlanta. Although his early financial situation was not that good, he showed great determination and hard work to be where he is today, a famous rapper, singer, and songwriter with some of the finest mixtapes in the industry.
His professional career took off from his first mixtape, "Hard Body," in 2013, a few years after which he joined Thug's YSL Records and continued his journey of success. His 3rd mixtape with YSL, "Drip Season 3," was a big hit, and the gritty lyrics and attractive rapping style brought the rapper even more fame. But his most critically acclaimed album, "Drip or Drown 2," came in 2019, which enjoyed the top spot on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for quite a while. Drip Too Hard, Drip Harder, and Speed It Up are some of his best professional works.
The rapper has an estimated current net worth of around 4 million dollars.
Why Were They Sent to Prison
YSL's RICO Case:
As discussed, Young Thug started YSL Records in 2016 as an American record label with several rappers like Gunna, Lil Keed, and his brother Unfoonk. Although the rappers gained immense fame and boosted their rapping careers significantly, the same platform eventually became the reason for their downfall when the DA's office of Fulton County, Georgia, charged YSL with a RICO case on the 9th of May 2022.
According to Fani Willis, the district attorney overseeing the case, YSL has evolved into a criminal street gang. In a press conference after the arrest of Young Thug, Gunna, and other artists, she said that the local gangs are "committing conservatively 75 to 80 percent of all the violent crime that we’re seeing within our community. So they have to be booted." Furthermore, the district attorney also vows to prosecute anyone who commits crimes, especially in the furtherance of a street gang, to the fullest extent of the law, irrespective of their fame or notoriety.
The indictment against YSL members contains a total of 65 counts levied against the rappers. The prosecutors also allege that YSL is affiliated with the Bloods, a violent street gang responsible for numerous horrific crimes.
Young Thug's Incarceration:
Of the 65 charges, Young Thug alone is facing 8 counts, which include direct participation in criminal activity and conspiracy to violate the RICO Act. In May 2022, Thug's home in Atlanta was searched, where the police found marijuana, codeine, cocaine, and guns, after which the rapper was also charged with possession of marijuana, cocaine, and codeine with intent to distribute, in addition to possession of firearms and machine gun. To enlist:
- Conspiracy to violate the RICO Act
- Participation in criminal street gang activity (2 counts)
- Possession of marijuana with intent to distribute
- Possession of codeine with intent to distribute
- Possession of cocaine
- Possession of firearm
- Possession of a machine gun
Among the 2 counts of participation in criminal street gang activity, there's a case of shooting in a home in Southwest Atlanta in March 2022. An officer on duty at that time recorded the conversation within the house using the Ring doorbell. He claims that the perpetrator's voice is that of Young Thug, but Thug and his law team do not agree. Brian Steel, Thug's lawyer, is trying to get the evidence banned and removed from the RICO case. Moreover, Thug and Birdman are also being charged for the shooting in 2015 of Wayne's bus tour.
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So, Thug's still in Cobb County prison while the hearings continue and a final verdict isn't reached.
Gunna's Plea Deal
While Young Thug's investigation is ongoing, the same can't be said about Gunn. He was released from prison and now walks free.
After his indictment and arrest in May 2022 for violating Georgia's RICO Act, Gunna's legal team, along with his numerous fans, were furious that both he and Young Thug were arrested and sent to prison based on accusations that referenced their music. The prosecutors cited 2 of Gunna's songs, namely "Fox 5" and "Take it to trial". Gunna's lawyers insisted that "The indictment falsely portrays his music as part of criminal conspiracy."
A few days later, Gunna was denied bond because the rapper might intimidate witnesses and informants. Gunna's lawyers asked the judge to reconsider his decision since there wasn't even "a shred of evidence" to support the idea that Gunna would even think of threatening informants after being released. Moreover, since his trial would probably start around January 2023, he would have to live in "inhumane" conditions until the trial on the grounds of mere speculation, but their efforts went without fruition.
Gunna, Young Thug, and the rest of YSL were also backed quite openly by the CEO of 300 Entertainment. Julie Greenwald and Kevin Liles called out against using song lyrics in criminal trials by promoting and supporting the petition "Protect Black Art."
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On December 14th, Gunna took the Alford plea during his virtual hearing and became a free man, although a hated one. According to the plea, the rapper formally admitted that he was guilty of a single racketeering conspiracy charge while still maintaining his innocence but acknowledging that, regardless, he is likely to be found guilty. As a result, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison, which was reduced to one year, which he had already served, and 500 hours of community service. After Gunna, several others followed suit and pleaded guilty.
Gunna's Life After His Plea Deal
Although several of his fans and fellow rappers accused him of being a snitch, he remained adamant that he didn't cooperate with the prosecution and had no plans of giving any statements or agreeing to testify as a witness. In other words, he has "no intention of being involved in the trial process in any way." After being released, he even said on a podcast of his friend Lil Durk "If you a rat, I hate you, 'cause I love Thug." He even released a song "Bread and Butter" to break the silence and do something about the progressively growing public image fallout, but this triggered hate in some fans even more since the song was released through YSL.
Andre Gee summed up Gunna's situation perfectly in a piece in Rolling Stone, saying that the rapper is "being squeezed between the criminal-justice system and the rap world, neither of which is as humane as they feign to be."
But that wasn't all. In the only song that Gunna has released yet after walking out of prison, he also took a dig at some of his ex-friends who started to distance themselves from the rap artist ever since his indictment and plea deal. Since Gunna didn't reveal their identity, no one's 100 percent sure who Gunna was talking about, although several fans and keyboard warriors think the taunts were aimed at either Lil Baby or Durk.
Currently, Gunna's future as a rap artist is uncertain, but there are rumors that he is working on his next studio album.
Although they had decent careers, Young Thug and Gunna are not at a desirable point in their personal and professional lives. With Young Thug still in jail and a RICO case haunting his dreams, there is a lot of speculation about whether the final verdict comes in his favor or not. As for Gunna, although he walks free after an Alford plea deal, his popularity and respect have taken a big hit, both among his fans and the rap industry, who now vilify him as a potential snitch.