FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Atlanta rapper Young Thug may still be in custody at the Cobb County Jail, but that's not stopping him from releasing new music.
The "Stoner" rapper, whose real name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, has been in custody for more than a year now as part of a sweeping RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation into the organization YSL, which stands for Young Slime Life.
Despite that fact, the rapper dropped a new album at midnight. It's titled "Business is Business" and was made with popular Atlanta hip-hop producer Metro Boomin.
On the cover, Young Thug is posed in a courtroom with six other Black men dressed in black suits.
The album features popular artists including Drake, Future, Travis Scott, 21 Savage, and Nate Ruess of Fun.
In an excerpt shared on Instagram, it sounds like Thug is making a collect call from inside the Cobb County Jail.
Young Thug has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate Georgia's RICO Act and participation in a criminal street gang.
In the more than six months since his arrest and indictment, not a single jury member has been seated.
Officials have no firm date on when his trial will start.
What is YSL?
Fulton County prosecutors say Young "Slime" Life is a violent criminal street gang that’s commonly known as YSL and is affiliated with the national Bloods gang. They said it was founded in 2012. Defendants in the case claim that YSL is not a criminal entity, and not to be confused with Young "Stoner" Life Records, the music label rapper Young Thug founded.
In a statement, rapper Gunna, who made a plea deal to avoid jail time, said he didn’t consider it a gang but rather "a group of people from metro Atlanta who had common interests and artistic aspirations." His focus was entertainment, he said, "rap artists who wrote and performed music that exaggerated and ‘glorified’ urban life in the Black community."
What is the RICO Act?
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, was developed to fight organized crime.
The U.S. Department of Justice has used RICO to take down multiple crime families and street gangs.
Violating RICO carries a maximum of 20 years and a fine that is "greater than $25,000 or three times the amount of pecuniary gain."
Under RICO, victims impacted can seek civil recourse without the defendant being able to hide behind bankruptcy to skirt judgment or restitution.
Why are some members of YSL on trial?
Prosecutors claim Young Slime Life is a violent street gang behind a series of heinous crimes including murders, shootings, and carjackings. They say the crimes were committed to raise money for the gang, enhance its reputation, and extend its influence and territory.
Initially, 28 people were charged with conspiracy to violate Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, with numerous other charges also filed against many of the accused.
What are the latest updates in the YSL RICO Trial?
It's been a wild few months for everyone involved in the case.
- YSL RICO case: Young Thug's brother has probation revoked, sent back to prison
- YSL RICO trial: Fulton County sheriff's deputy arrested
- YSL RICO trial: Laptop of Christian Eppinger's attorney seized by deputies
- Young Thug reportedly taken to hospital because of illness, court canceled
- Defendant, attorney arrested during YSL trial jury selection
- Defense attorney in YSL accuses judge of ‘capping’ during hearing
- Young Thug RICO trial: Prosecutors say video appears to show 'drug deal' in courtroom
As the trial slowly drags on despite plenty of weird twists and turns, jury selection for the YSL trial is expected to continue next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.