Kevin Liles has launched a petition to stop prosecutor Fani Willis from using rap lyrics in criminal trials.
The Fulton County District Attorney charged rappers Young Thug (left) and Gunna (right) in a sweeping 88-page RICO racketeering indictment.
Willis cited violent lyrics by both rappers in the 55-count indictment.
Both Young Thug (left) and Gunna (right) are sitting in Atlanta area jails awaiting their trials in January 2023.
Liles, co-founder and CEO of 300 Entertainment, spoke on Young Thug’s behalf in a recent bond hearing in Atlanta.
Liles wiped away tears as he told Superior Court Judge Ural D. Glanville that he viewed Young Thug as a son and more than an artist or business partner.
He promised to put up $1 million of his own money to pay off-duty police officers to monitor Young Thug, real name Jeffery Williams, on house arrest.
“I’m kind of emotional because of how good this guy is,” Liles said as he wiped away tears. “I’m willing to back him personally and professionally… This whole thing that people are talking about, it’s not him. The Jeffery I know, he’ll give me the clothes off his back. The Jeffery I know, I can give him my kids and he’ll give me his kids.”
Liles (right) with Young Thug (center) and rapper Busta Rhymes (left), told the judge that rap lyrics were on trial.
“Our music, we’ve been on trial,” he said, “and we’re constantly on trial about who we are, what we are, and why we’re — ain’t nobody gave us nothing. So we sit here on trial and we talk about lyrics — lyrics? I don’t understand… But I’m gonna be here and I’m gonna keep fighting, because I believe in self-expression and I believe that we should protect Black art.”
But, despite Liles’ passionate plea, Judge Glanville denied bond for the YSL rapper.
Judge Glanville cited Young Thug’s violent rap lyrics in his decision to keep him in jail until his trial next year.
This week, Liles announced that he, along with Atlantic Records’ COO Julie Greenwald, have launched a petition to stop the use of rap lyrics in criminal trials.
The petition, which is titled “Rap Music on Trial: Protect Black Art,” aims to stop prosecutors from using lyrics as evidence of criminal activity.
“Weaponizing creative expression against artists is obviously wrong. But what gets us so upset is what’s happening to Young Thug, Gunna, and YSL is just the most high-profile case,” the joint statement read.
Last month the New York State Senate passed the “Rap Music On Trial” bill which prevents song lyrics from being used to convict rappers in criminal cases.
The New York bill was supported by rappers such as Jay Z and Fat Joe who signed their names on a letter endorsing the legislation.
Watch the video below.