The judge presiding over the trial of rapper Young Thug, who is facing gang-related charges in Atlanta, Georgia, ruled Thursday that rap lyrics can be admitted by prosecutors as evidence in the case on a conditional basis.
Judge Ural Glanville ruled that 17 sets of lyrics mentioned in the indictment – lines that are performed by Young Thug and other co-defendants – can be preliminarily admitted in the trial, denying a motion filed by Young Thug’s attorney last December arguing against the use of lyrics in the sweeping RICO indictment.
“I’m conditionally admitting those pending lyrics, depending upon – or subject to a foundation that is properly laid by the state or the proponent that seeks to admit that evidence,” Glanville said.
Glanville added that if prosecutors intend to include additional lyrics as part of the alleged evidence in this case, they can be submitted for the judge’s review before the trial begins later this month.
The judge’s decision comes one day after attorneys for Young Thug and two other co-defendants argued that the use of lyrics as alleged evidence, in this case, violates the artist’s freedom of speech and effectively denies rap music the status of art.
“[Prosecutors] are targeting the right to free speech,” Young Thug’s attorney Brian Steel said during arguments on Wednesday. But prosecutors argued that the lyrics are relevant to the alleged crimes laid out in the indictment.
Young Thug was among 28 individuals named in the indictment who are allegedly associated with the Atlanta-based Young Slime Life, a gang that prosecutors allege Young Thug founded in 2012.
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