Young Thug made a surprise statement from jail during New York radio station Hot 97’s annual Summer Jam concert.
The rapper was due to be playing the New Jersey show on Sunday (June 12) but was still in jail, having been denied a prison release on bond earlier this month.
According to HipHopDX, the show featured a voice message from Thug that played on the Summer Jam screen, preceded by a video in which artists like Polo G and G Herbo pledged their support to the rapper.
“I just want to say thank you to all of my friends and my family for coming out and supporting us,” Thug said. “You know, your support during this time means a lot to us, ya know.”
He then asked the crowd to support a petition that music executives Kevin Liles and Julie Greenwald launched, asking legislators to prohibit courts from using rap lyrics during cases.
Thug continued: “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, you know, freedom. Everybody please sign the ‘Protect Black Art’ petition and keep praying for us. I love you all.”
Young Thug, real name Jeffery Lamar Williams, was arrested on May 9 on charges of participation in street gang activity and conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) Act. Gunna was also arrested and was recently denied bond.
— HipHopDX (@HipHopDX) June 13, 2022
Young Thug and Gunna, the latter of whom has also denied participating in criminal street gang activity as well as conspiring to violate the RICO Act, are two of 28 people charged in an indictment that focuses on the alleged street gang YSL (“Young Slime Life”). The gang is believed to have formed in Atlanta in 2012 and is linked to the infamous Bloods gang.
Thug is suspected of being one of three of the alleged gang’s founding members, while Gunna – real name Sergio Kitchens – is also among those listed in the indictment. Gunna’s lawyers have since responded saying that his indictment is “intensely problematic”, declaring that their client is “innocent”.
Both Thug and Gunna’s trials are set for January 9, 2023.