“I just want to say thank you to all my friends and my family for coming out and supporting us,” he said in an audio message broadcast at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, as seen below. “You know, your support during this time means a lot to us.”
Thug also directed fans to the recently launched Protect Black Art petition, which calls for legislation at federal and state levels to limit the use of art as evidence in criminal trials.
“This isn’t just about me or YSL,” Thug, who was originally slated to perform at this year’s Summer Jam, said in the Sunday-shared message. “I always use my music as a form of artistic expression and now I see that Black artists and rappers don’t have that, you know, freedom. Everybody please sign the Protect Black Art petition and keep praying for us. I love you all.”
“This practice isn’t just a violation of First Amendment protections for speech and creative expression,” Liles and Greenwald said in a joint statement when launching the petition. “It punishes already marginalized communities and silences their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph. It is a racially targeted attack, and this shameful and un-American practice must end.”
At the local level, specifically, the larger YSL indictment—as well as the bond denials of Thug, Gunna, and Yak Gotti—is indicative of what Complex’s Andre Gee recently noted as Atlanta’s increasingly “predatory” justice system.
In May, the New York State Senate approved the Rap Music on Trial bill, which (as the aforementioned petition calls for on a nationwide scale) aims to limit the use of song lyrics as evidence. The bill received public support from a number of artists, including Jay-Z, and has been widely citied as exactly the sort of legislation needed elsewhere to help ensure the protection of creative expression.
“Art is creative expression, not a blueprint of criminal plans,” Senator Brad Hoylman said last November when first introducing the New York bill. “Yet we’ve seen prosecutors in New York and across the country try to use rap music lyrics as evidence in criminal cases, a practice upheld this year by a Maryland court. It’s time to end the egregious bias against certain genres of music, like rap, and protect the First Amendment rights of all artists.”