Fanni Willis – the district attorney for Fulton County – has maintained she will continue to use the lyrics of rappers such as Young Thug and Gunna as evidence during prosecution.
Speaking to the press yesterday (August 29), Willis acknowledged that although she has faced criticism for her approach, it will remain unchanged going forward. “If you decide to admit your crimes over a beat, I’m gonna use it,” she said. A reporter then asked Willis about accusations that she was targeting Atlanta’s hip-hop community, to which she responded: “I’m not targeting anyone.”
“However, you do not get to commit crimes in my county and then decide to brag on it – which you do… for a form of intimidation, and to further the gain – and not be held responsible.”
Willis then cited lyrics from the alleged gang members that had been indicted, who had shared their songs on social media, which included the lines “Send me the drop / Kick in the house / If we steal a car / I’mma take off the tag”.
“I’m using those lyrics [where] they’re admitting to doing that, and I’m going to continue to do that,” she said. “People can continue to be angry about it, [but] I have some legal advice: Don’t confess to crimes on rap lyrics if you do not want them used – or, at least, get out of my county.”
View footage from Willis’ press conference below, with questioning regarding rap lyrics beginning around the 8:10 mark:
The use of rap lyrics in legal prosecution has been a contentious issue of late, with the state of California’s senate approving a bill last week which limits the use of lyrics as court evidence.
Young Thug was arrested on gang-related charges in May, along with 27 other people for their connections to the musical collective known as YSL – including Gunna – on suspicion that it is a “criminal street gang”. Both rappers have denied they are guilty. Young Thug has been denied bail three times, with Gunna also having his bail denied in the weeks following the arrests.
Lyrics of both artists have been cited in their hearings since their arrests – a move which Gunna’s legal team has deemed “intensely problematic”.
“These lyrics are an artist’s creative expression, and not a literal recounting of facts and circumstances,” they said in a statement shortly after Gunna’s arrest. “Under the state’s theory, any artist with a song referencing violence could find herself the victim of a RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations] indictment.”
Several rappers have shown support for Young Thug, Gunna and YSL as a whole since the arrests – among them Drake (in his ‘Sticky’ video) and Killer Mike in the video for his Young Thug-featuring single ‘RUN’.