Young Thug may not have been able to perform at Hot 97’s annual Summer Jam festival as planned, but he was still able to make an appearance in spirit. Just ahead of Fivio Foreign’s headlining performance, Hot 97 played a video of Thug’s peers sharing supportive messages that concluded with an audio recording of the incarcerated Atlanta artist himself. “I just want to say thank you to all of my friends and my family for coming out and supporting us,” he said. “You know, your support during this time means a lot to us.”
“This isn’t just about me or YSL,” he continued. “I always use my music as a form of artistic expression, and now I see that Black artists and rappers don’t have that freedom. Everybody please sign the ‘Protect Black Art’ petition and keep praying for us. I love you all.”
The petition was posted on Change.org by 300 Entertainment co-founder Kevin Liles and encouraged the federal adoption of legislation like the New York State Bill S7527, which would limit the use of artists’ lyrics in criminal trials. Nicknamed the “Rap Music On Trial” bill, it was passed by the State Senate in May but still has to go through the State Assembly and get ratified by the Governor.
The bill has seen greater attention in the wake of Young Thug’s case, in which he, Gunna, and 26 other members of their YSL crew were charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act; prosecutors maintain that the label is a so-called “hybrid street gang” responsible for dozens of incidents of violence in the Fulton County area. The evidence against both Thug and Gunna included instances of their lyrics in which they shout out YSL, the name of their label. Both rappers have been denied bond and a trial has been set for January 9, 2023.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.