Young Thug’s Lawyer Defines “Pushin P” And “Thug” In RICO Trial Opening Statements
A year and a half after his arrest, Young Thug’s RICO trial is finally underway. High-profile prosecutor Fani Willis claims that Thug’s YSL record label and crew are actually a violent gang, and Thug is facing racketeering charges. Earlier this month, Judge Ural Glanville ruled that the state could use Thug’s lyrics as evidence, a controversial and troubling tactic that makes no allowances for artistic license. This puts Thug’s lawyer in the unenviable position of explaining Thug’s lyrics and iconography in ways that won’t seem sinister.
Yesterday, Thug’s lawyer Brian Steel gave his opening arguments, describing Thug as an up-from-nothing success story who’s being unfairly targeted. As Billboard reports, Steel made the case that Thug’s lyrics are artistic expressions, not criminal confessions:
Yes, he speaks about “killing 12” and people being shot and drugs and drive-by shootings. This is the environment he grew up in. These are the people he knew, these are the stories he knew. These are the words he rhymed… This is art. This is freedom of speech.
Steel also claimed that Thug chose his stage name as a reference to the 2PAc song “PYT (Playa Young Thugs)” and that the “Thug” in his name is actually an acronym: “To Jeffrey, ‘Thug’ had a different meaning… It was his pact. If he could ever make it as a musical artist and help his family, himself, and as many others out of this endless cycle of hopelessness, he would be Truly Humbled Under God. That’s what ‘Thug’ means.”
That’s a pretty goofy acronym, but it’s part of a grand tradition of goofy rap acronyms that stretches back at least to KRS-One, who said that his name stood for “Knowledge Rules Supreme Under Nearly Everyone.” Steel also disputed the prosecution’s claim that Thug flashed a Blood gang sign on camera, claiming that it was a reference to Gunna, Future, and Thug’s 2022 hit “Pushin P”:
There’s nothing wrong with holding up a Blood sign. But that’s not a Blood sign. A Blood sign, it looks like a B. That is a P. Jeffrey’s fingers are down. What you’ll learn is that Jeffrey just released, with Sergio Kitchens, a performer known as Gunna, the song that is wildly popular. It’s around the globe. It’s called “Pushin P,” and it’s positivity. It’s any circumstance you’re in, if you think positively about something, you can make it through. You’re pushing positivity if you’re pushing P. Jeffrey is showing the P.
Steel also acknowledged Thug’s use of gang iconography but explained that it was meaningless, that it’s simply part of rap culture. He argued that this had nothing to do with crimes committed by people from the same neighborhood as Thug, and he claimed that Thug doesn’t even know many of his co-defendants.