Young Thug's RICO charges and the criminalization of hip-hop : Louder Than A Riot Last week, two of Atlanta's biggest rappers Young Thug and Gunna were arrested under the RICO Act. The DA charged their crew YSL as a gang and the indictment read more like a lyrical analysis than a police report. If this sounds familiar, it's because these same tactics were used in cases we explored with DJ Drama, Bobby Shmurda, and Mac Phipps. In this bonus episode, we speak with NPR's Ayesha Rascoe about the impact of YSL, and how RICO is being used against rap crews.

Young Thug's racketeering charges show how hip-hop is still criminalized

Young Thug's racketeering charges show how hip-hop is still criminalized

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1100210753/1100316598" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Gunna and Young Thug perform at half time during game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics on November 17, 2021 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

Gunna and Young Thug perform at half time during game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics on November 17, 2021 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.

Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

Influential rappers Young Thug and Gunna were arrested last week under an 88-page indictment that named nearly 30 people and contained evidence going as far back as 2013. These high-profile arrests mark a rising trend in the criminalization of hip-hop artists under the RICO Act — that's short for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization, a law that was originally designed to fight organized crime like the mafia.

Louder Than A Riot hosts Sidney Madden and Rodney Carmichael sit down with Weekend Edition Sunday's Ayesha Rascoe to unpack this news and examine how the artists are being policed — from the application of the word "gang" to describe rap crews, to the use of art as evidence.

In this update to our previous reporting on the cases of DJ Drama, Mac Phipps and Bobby Shmurda, we consider the tension between fans that applaud street cred and the law enforcement that uses it as evidence.

To connect with us, follow the show on Twitter @LouderThanARiot, or send us an email at louder@npr.org.