300 Entertainment and Atlantic Records are taking a stand against using rap lyrics as evidence in criminal cases. 300’s Kevin Liles and Atlantic’s COO Julie Greenwald launched a petition on Thursday (June 9) dubbed “Rap Music on Trial: Protect Black Art,” which focuses on how prosecutors have continuously attempted to use rap lyrics in a courtroom.
The petition details explicitly how Young Thug, Gunna, and their Young Stoner Life (YSL) collective have fallen victim to this prosecutorial tactic during their ongoing RICO case.
“In the indictment, Fulton County prosecutors argue that lyrics like ‘ready for war like I’m Russia’ are a confession of criminal intent,” it states in the petition.
Liles and Greenwald added in a joint statement, “Weaponizing creative expression against artists is obviously wrong. But what gets us so upset is what’s happening to Young Thug, Gunna, and YSL is just the most high-profile case.”
They continued, “In courtrooms across America, Black creativity and artistry is being criminalized. With increasing and troubling frequency, prosecutors are attempting to use rap lyrics as confessions, just like they’re doing in this case.”
In May, New York state took steps to limit this tactic and passed the “Rap Music On Trial” bill which hinders the prosecutor’s ability to rely on rap lyrics in an ongoing criminal case.
“We need to step up, support these efforts, and get this bill across the finish line,” the statement read. “We need to urge the prompt adoption of legislation at the Federal and State level that would limit how prosecutors can use creative and artistic expression as evidence against defendants in criminal trials.”
Kevin Liles spoke to his relationship with Young Thug, his character, and the relevance of his rap lyrics to the RICO gang case during Thug’s bond hearing
— Glock Topickz (@Glock_Topickz) June 2, 2022
Liles went viral earlier this month after he grew emotional when he was called to testify on behalf of Young Thug during the rapper’s bond hearing.
“I’m kind of emotional because of how good this guy is,” he said to the judge. “I’m willing to back him personally and professionally. … This whole thing that people are talking about, it’s not him. The Jeffery I know, he’ll give me the clothes off his back. The Jeffery I know, I can give him my kids and he’ll give me his kids.”
Thugga was ultimately denied bond, with Judge Ural Glanville saying he was concerned about the YSL head being a “danger to the community” and “flight risk.” He will remain behind bars at Fulton County Jail for the foreseeable future.
You can sign the petition here.