While Young Thug was unable to perform at Hot 97 Summer Jam in New Jersey on Sunday (June 12) due to his recent arrest, the rapper was still present through an audio message that played toward the end of the night.
Hot 97 broadcasted a video on the MetLife Stadium screens showing stars like DJ Khaled, Polo G, and G Herbo voicing their support for both Young Thug and Gunna, who are both currently in custody. “Hey how y’all doin? This is Thug,” Young Thug himself is heard saying in an audio message at the end of the video. “I just want to say thank you to all my friends and my family for coming out and supporting us. You know, your support during this time means a lot to us. You know, this isn’t just about me or YSL. I always use my music as a form of artistic expression, and now I see that Black artists and rappers don’t have that freedom.”
Thug went on to encourage everyone who was present at the show to sign the “Protect Black Art” petition launched by music executives Kevin Liles and Julie Greenwald. The petition demands that lyrics are not used as criminal evidence. When Atlanta prosecutors indicted Young Thug and dozens of others in a sweeping criminal case in May, they cited heavily from the rapper’s own music – a controversial tactic that activists across the country are trying to rein in.
“This practice isn’t just a violation of First Amendment protections for speech and creative expression,” the petition’s description reads. “It punishes already marginalized communities and silences their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph.”
“Keep praying for us,” Young Thug ended his audio message. “I love you all.”
Young Thug is currently accused of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and participation in criminal street gang activity.
In his indictment, Young Thug is alleged to be one of three founders of the Young Slime Life, “a criminal street gang that started in late 2012” in Atlanta. Charges include “Preserving, protecting and enhancing the reputation, power and territory of the enterprise through acts of racketeering activity including murder, assault and threats of violence.” He was subsequently charged with seven more felonies on May 11, including possession of drugs and illegal firearms, based on items found at his home during his arrest earlier in the week. On May 12, a Fulton County judge denied the rapper bond based on that second round of charges brought after the indictment.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the RICO act charge comes from an alleged offense from January 2013, while the gang activity charge allegedly happened in a May 2018 incident.