Artist News Media

Rolling Stone announces Young Thug documentaries documenting legal battle

By | Published on Monday 11 July 2022

Young Thug

Rolling Stone has announced a new TV and podcast series exploring rapper Young Thug and his YSL Records label, amid ongoing legal issues for the rapper.

Young Thug – real name Jeffery Williams – was charged last month, alongside fellow rapper Gunna and 26 others, with numerous counts of racketeering relating to the Young Slime Life gang in Atlanta. He is accused of co-founding the gang that went on to commit murders, shootings and carjackings – crimes he then allegedly bragged about in his music videos.

The documentary series will be co-produced with Jigsaw Productions and aim to document the criminal case “in real time”, as well as delving into the history of the rapper and his 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”, says Rolling Stone CEO Gus Wenner.

Jason Fine, SVP of Rolling Stone Films, adds: “Rolling Stone’s deep coverage of Atlanta hip hop gives us unique access and perspective on this story, and we’re excited to tell one of the most fascinating cultural stories today as it unfolds in real time”.

Meanwhile, executive producer Stacey Offman of Jigsaw comments: “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”.

The latest development in the ongoing case against Williams et al is that Gunna – real name Sergio Kitchens – has been denied bail for a second time. He was first denied release from jail on bond in May and again at a hearing on Friday. He is currently set to remain in jail until trial, which is currently scheduled for January 2023.

The arrests have put the spotlight on the so called ‘Rap On Trial’ campaign. Prosecutors in this case plan to use music and videos released by Williams and Kitchens as evidence against them. Critics argue that this is a common practice when rappers are accused of crimes in the US, but such evidence is often very misleading, and its use in criminal actions may breach the First Amendment and other free speech rights of the accused.

In New York State new legislation is being considered that would restrict the use of a defendant’s music as evidence in criminal actions. And last month the bosses of 300 Entertainment and Atlantic Records US – both of which work with Williams, Kitchens and the YSL label – called on the music community to support similar legal reforms across the US, initially by signing a Protect Black Art petition they have set up online.

Commenting on his arrest last month, Kitchens said: “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. My art is not allowed to stand alone as entertainment, I’m not allowed that freedom as a black man in America. It is a sad reality that slavery is still alive in America today and still affecting my people. In twelve states more than half of the prison population is black, one of those states is Georgia”.