‘Rap Trap’: New Doc to Explore Young Thug/YSL Trial and Use of Lyrics as Evidence
ABC News Studios and Hulu are prepping a new documentary, Rap Trap: Hip-Hop on Trial, that will explore the ongoing YSL/Young Thug trial and the use of rap lyrics in criminal prosecutions. The doc will premiere Feb. 23.
Young Thug (real name Jeffrey Williams) was one of 28 people arrested last May as part of a massive RICO Act indictment. Prosecutors have tried to paint Williams as the leader of a YSL (Young Slime Life) criminal street gang in Atlanta, charging him with conspiring to violate the RICO Act, as well as additional gun and drug charges. Williams has pleaded not guilty
Controversially, the indictment cited Williams’ lyrics (as well as music videos and social media posts) as evidence against him. Prosecutors did the same for Gunna (real name Sergio Kitchens), who was also arrested and charged last May. (Kitchens ultimately took a “best-interest” plea, maintaining his innocence while accepting a plea and the repercussions of a guilty verdict.)
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has vociferously defended the use of lyrics as evidence in the case against Williams, and the tactic has been employed (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) in other criminal cases around the country. Rap Trap, along with delving into the YSL trial, will also look at the case of McKinley Phipps Jr., a rapper on Master P’s record label No Limit who had his lyrics used against him in a manslaughter case. Phipps, who has always maintained his innocence, was ultimately convicted and spent 21 years in prison.
Phipps and his family participated in the upcoming documentary, which also features interviews with Killer Mike, Fat Joe, Will.i.am, and Jerrika Karlae. Record industry exec Kevin Liles (of 300 Elektra Entertainment), scholar Michael Erik Dyson, and Erik Nelson, co-author of the book Rap on Trial, also sat for interviews.