Fulton County Judge Ural Glanville ruled Thursday that rap lyrics can be admitted by prosecutors as evidence on a conditional basis in the case against rapper Young Thug, who is facing gang-related charges in Atlanta, Georgia. Glanville ruled that 17 sets of lyrics mentioned in the indictment – lines that are performed by Young Thug and other co-defendants in this case – can be preliminarily admitted in the trial, ABC News reports. "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, denying a motion filed by Young Thug's attorney last December arguing against the use of lyrics in the sweeping RICO indictment.
The use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal proceedings is common in the U.S., but it is a controversial practice that has gained national attention through this case largely due to the star power of Young Thug. His case has sparked a movement across the music industry known as "Protect Black Art" that has fueled efforts by freedom of speech advocates and lawmakers on the federal and state level to introduce legislation that would limit this practice. Young Thug was initially charged with one count each of conspiring to violate the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and participating in criminal street gang activity, and was later charged with an additional count of participating in street gang activity, three counts of violating the Georgia controlled substances act, possession of a firearm while committing a felony and possession of a machine gun. "I think if you decide to admit your crimes over a beat, I'm going to use it," Willis told reporters during a press conference on Aug. 29. 2022. "I'm not targeting anyone. You do not get to commit crimes in my county, and then get to decide to brag on it."