Well-known crime journalist George Chidi has more to say about Atlanta hip-hop artist Young Thug and the RICO case against him. Hip-hop artist Young Thug was arrested on May 9 in Atlanta along with fellow rapper Gunna, who is signed to Young Thug’s record label YSL Records (Young Stoner Life), and more than 20 other associates for alleged gang activity as part of a 56-count RICO indictment.
RICO — the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — is a federal law that allows for prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering activity. It was originally used in the 1970s to prosecute the Mafia and others involved in ongoing organized crime.
Chidi, who has written for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, and Vice, among other media outlets, earned an MBA from Georgia Tech. He also holds a journalism degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Chidi recently tweeted, “If you got shot in the YFN-YSL gang war, call a lawyer. The pleadings in the criminal case may be giving you a legal case for a lawsuit against the music labels.”
Chidi also recently discussed the case on the “VIS Unfiltered” podcast.
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Chidi isn’t the first to say music labels and executives associated with the YSL crew should be held accountable.
Atlanta-based YSL Records, which Thug launched in 2016, is a label imprint of 300 Entertainment, which is now part of the Warner Bros. Records group. Lyor Cohen’s 300 Entertainment Records is the distributor of YSL.
Interestingly, 300 Entertainment was sold to Warner Music Group in December 2021. Founded by Lyor Cohen, Roger Gold, Kevin Liles, and Todd Moscowitz, the label cashed in on a whopping $400 million just months before one of its main artists, Young Thug, was arrested and hit with 52 RICO charges in May 2022. Some thought the timing of the 300 Entertainment being sold was suspicious. The feds investigation into YSL, no doubt, had been going on for years before the indictments. Did 300 Entertainment have a heads up?
YSL artists include Gunna, Lil Keed, and more. Lil Baby used to be signed to the label as well.
So wondered: if YSL has been indicted for crimes, why haven’t the profiteering labels associated with it been indicted as well?
“If the record label is funding a criminal enterprise and an outright gang allegedly committing murders according to the GOV, why isn’t the label included with the RICO?” asked The Moguldom Nation CEO Jamarlin Martin.
“In order to pursue someone criminally, you have to have intent to commit a crime, among other things,” Patrick A. Mullin, a New York City-based white-collar criminal defense attorney, told Moguldom.com. “With RICO, there’s an enterprise involved, and each player has to be knowingly involved in doing something criminal. That may be why some of these labels aren’t involved — because they did not do something criminal.”
But Mullin pointed out new evidence could come to light, and “they may well be brought in. It happens all the time. It’s called a superseding indictment. You should not take it as Gospel that just because someone hasn’t been brought in, they will never be brought in. It’s one thing to be accused; it’s another for the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilty.”
Still, Chidi could be on to something about criminal charges being far-reaching. The journalist also recently commented on the plea deals by Gunna and Young Thug’s brother, who was also indicted. According to Chidi, there’s a reason why the feds aren’t making a deal with Young Thug. He’s the primary RICO target, said Chidi.
Chidi tweeted, “For everyone talking about how Young Thug is “standing strong” by not taking a plea agreement: the district attorney’s office isn’t offering Jeffery Williams any deal that doesn’t leave him in prison forever. He’s the target of this case. Everyone else is optional.”
Photo caption: Lyor Cohen screenshot from YouTube All Urban Central video, Nov. 30, 2016, “Young Thug Turns His Manager Gangster: Lyor Cohen Is A Blood Now,”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvfVeb4CO7w / Young Thug attends the Young Thug “No, My Name Is Jeffery” Listening Event Hosted By Lyor Cohen, pictured at YouTube Space, Aug. 25, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty)