Young Thug’s defense lawyer gave his opening statement in the YSL Rico trial on Tuesday, where he claims that his client has nothing to do with the charges and he’s being targeted by the prosecution without solid evidence that he is running a gang.
Steel’s more than two-hour opening statement painted Young Thug as a rising rapper from a community of Cleveland Avenue, where he was the only person to rise to the heights of success. However, he never turned his back on the community despite not living there over the last decade.
In her opening statement, prosecutor Adriane Love alleged that Thug’s YSL started in the Cleveland Avenue area. However, Steel says the Cleveland Avenue area treated Young Thug as the Michael Jordan of the community because of his massive success, and they respected him.
Steel also went on to talk about Thug’s first project, a mixtape released in 2011 in which he speaks of everything from drive-by shootings, calling the police ‘pigs’, to murders and other themes that were a part of the environment he grew up in.
Addressing the rapper’s name, Steel also said the rapper’s name was inspired by 2Pac and Michael Jackson, and his moniker Thug means “Truly Humble Under God.”
He added that Thug’s choice of topics used in his music took off and made him a star with songs like “Stoner,” “Lifestyle,” and others.
“He is making music professionally. He is working with some of the biggest artists in hip-hop. It worked! It’s unbelievable. He is not running this criminal street gang in the Cleveland Avenue area to gain property, money, or power. Jeffery Williams did it on will and hard work and determination without any help except the people from that area he will not turn his back on,” his lawyer said.
The Grammy-winning artist, he said, “is not sitting there (Cleveland Avenue) telling people to kill people. He doesn’t need their money. Jeffery’s worth tens of millions of dollars.”
The lawyer also went on to say that Thug is so talented and doesn’t only do gangster rap but also does Country, Pop, Latin, and Afrobeats music, and he’s worked with artists like Rihanna, Drake, Elton John, Ed Sheeran, and others.
The defense lawyer seemed to address the prosecution’s claim on Monday that Young Thug and Lil Wayne were feuding, leading to the latter’s tour bus being shot up by alleged YSL gang members Walter Murphy, Young Thug’s sister, defendant’s sister, Trontavious Stephens, and Jimmy Winfrey. All three men have since taken plea deals since their arrest last year.
“As Jeffery is coming up and making it, Lil Wayne had a rep talk about Cash Money Records. Jeffery’s friend in Cleveland Avenue called himself YSL because the tightfitting pants that they were wearing were tagged YSL that’s where that name comes from,” Steel said about the label name, which the prosecution says stands for Young Slime Life gang.
The lawyer also claims that Thug “doesn’t even know most of the people in this indictment,” but everybody in the area knows him. He is the Michael Jordan of that area.”
Steel also questions the prosecution’s evidence, noting that they have his phones and access to his social media accounts, but they have not provided anything more than song lyrics as their substantial evidence to show he was involved in crime.
In the meantime, Steel tells the jury that YFN Lucci’s beef with Thug was because he was broke and trying to attach himself to a bigger artist like Thug did with Lil Wayne.
The prosecution has alleged that Thug’s beef with Lucci’s rival gang, YFN, started with the killing of his manager, Donovan Thomas, in 2015.
The lawyer also brought up one of the overt acts (26) – lyrics from 2015 where the prosecution alleges Thug in a video said: “…y’all n***as need to get f***ing killed bro, from me and YSL.”
According to Steel, this was Thug experiencing frustration with the justice system “being out of control.”
“The prosecutor, the police are misrepresenting the evidence,” he said noting that the post was not made on Thug’s Instagram account.
Another overt act (96) by Thug wrote, “yfn if ain like what u do for your mother and kids I WOULD’VE BEEN KILLED U”.
However, Steel says that YFN Lucci had criticized Thug’s album as “awful” and that Thug’s response came after Lucci claimed that he had slept with Thug’s then-fiancée Jerrika Karlae. However, he said it was not a threat, especially since Young Thug did not intend to, nor did he act on it.