Interview

Atlanta trap music historian A.R. Shaw talks Young Thug’s arrest

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11Alive‘s Shiba Russell sits down with author and Trap music expert A.R. Shaw.

ATLANTA — Recording artist Young Thug is behind bars in Fulton County as part of the district attorney’s crackdown on gang activity in Atlanta.

The Atlanta native, whose legal name is Jeffery Williams, was booked on Monday. He’s accused of being the founder and leader of a violent Georgia street gang. Williams was named in an 88-page indictment along with rapper Gunna and 25 others — all accused of participating in gang-related activity.

The rapper has been arrested several times over the years and has been under investigation for his alleged gang activity for around a decade.

Jail records show the rapper was booked Monday on charges dating as far back as 2013.

During Williams’ court hearing on Tuesday, his legal team claimed his innocence. The rapper is currently being held without bond.

RICO charges and the indictment

“It was surprising, but it was also something that people in the Atlanta community who had the ears to the street knew about,” A.R. Shaw said.

Shaw, the author of Trap History, is an expert on the genre and has studied events and musicians including the murder of rapper Nipsey Hussle and Young Thug’s impact.

“As far as the indictment and the RICO charges, that really kind of shocked me because with RICO, the RICO charges, they can pretty much say if you’re affiliated you can go down with everyone else,” Shaw said.

Fulton County jail records show Williams is facing a gang activity charge from 2018 and a 2013 charge of conspiracy to violate the RICO Act.

“Young Thug has done things as well,” Shaw said. “He’s worked with the Atlanta foodbank to provide food for individuals in the city. Also, Young Thug and Gunna, they teamed up last year to give bond for nonviolent inmates in the Fulton County Jail – so we’ve seen them give back.”

Shaw added that as these artists have given back to the community, children who emulate them can take the arrests hard.

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