Rolling Stone has announced a documentary series exploring Young Thug and YSL Records amid the rapper’s legal troubles.
Young Thug, real name Jeffery Williams, was charged alongside rapper Gunna and 26 others for involvement with the Young Slime Life Atlanta street gang. He is accused of co-founding the street gang that went on to commit murders, shootings, and carjackings around Atlanta. Prosecutors want to use lyrics from Young Thug’s music as evidence against him. That has sparked at least one law in New York to prevent artists’ work from being used against them.
The Rolling Stone documentary about Young Thug will be co-produced with Jigsaw Productions. It aims to document the criminal case in ‘real time’ as well as delve into the rapper’s history and the founding of the label.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the talented team at Jigsaw to tell this ambitious and important story about one of the most compelling and controversial music scenes of the moment,” adds Rolling Stone CEO Gus Wenner.
“Jigsaw is thrilled to partner with the formidable team at Rolling Stone to explore Young Thug and YSL Records’ story in a style that is both absorbing and journalistically rigorous. It’s an intriguing narrative with engaging characters and enormous First Amendment consequences when song lyrics are applied in a criminal indictment.”
Prosecutors in the case plan to use music lyrics and music videos released by Young Thug and Gunna as evidence of their crimes. Critics argue that it’s a common practice when rappers are accused of crimes, but the use of lyrics may breach First Amendment and other free speech rights.
New York’s ‘Rap Music on Trial’ bill would restrict the use of a defendant’s music as evidence in criminal proceedings. The bosses of 300 Entertainment and Atlantic Records US called on the music community to support similar legislation reform across the United States.
“As a black man in America, it seems as though my art is only acceptable when I’m a source of entertainment for the masses,” Gunna said in a statement last month following his arrest. “My art is not allowed to stand alone as entertainment, I’m not allowed that freedom as a black man in America.”