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Lawyer says Young Thug stands for 'Truly Humble Under God': More from RICO trial

Young Thug's gang and racketeering trial is underway, and his attorney has a unique explanation of the rapper's name as he begins to lay out his defense.

On day two of the trial, Young Thug's attorney Brian Steel delved into the life story of Young Thug, born Jeffery Lamar Williams, and on Tuesday claimed the rapper's stage name stands for the acronym "Truly Humble Under God."

Steel said the moniker is a reference from the Tupac song "PYT (Playa Young Thugs)" and that the rapper's Young Stoner Life record label was a riff on the fashion line Yves Saint Laurent. AP doesn't have this reporting.

Young Thug was born into poverty in a crime-ridden housing project where he developed a strong distrust of the criminal justice system, Steel said. His family moved to the Cleveland Avenue area when he was 16, and he got out through hard work and talent, Steel said. But he didn't forget his roots and has been extremely generous with his good fortune, Steel said.

Young Thug's attorney Brian Steel claims the rapper's name stands for "Truly Humble Under God."
Young Thug's attorney Brian Steel claims the rapper's name stands for "Truly Humble Under God."

Steel responded to Fulton County Chief Deputy District Attorney Adriane Love, who said the people who have been affected directly and indirectly by the gang's violence represent the lives "swallowed up by that crater created by YSL in the Cleveland Avenue community."

"He's not the crater. He's trying to pull people out of poverty," Steel said.

Steel later responded to the prosecution's repeated references to Young Thug's songs, highlighting lyrics Love said were eerily similar to actual crimes.

Young Thug's lyrics used in RICO trial

Prosecutors have begun taking the controversial step of using Young Thug's rap lyrics as evidence against him.

Many of the lyrics cited in the indictment have been taken out of context and misrepresented to seem sinister when they are not, Steel said.

At one point, Steel insisted that "pushin P" — the Grammy-nominated 2022 track by Atlanta rappers Gunna and Future featuring Young Thug — stands for "Pushing Positivity."

Gunna, born Sergio Kitchens, was charged with a single count of racketeering conspiracy last year. He entered an Alford plea in December 2022, which means he maintains his innocence but recognizes that it's in his best interest to plead guilty.

During Gunna's plea hearing, the rapper responded, "Yes, ma'am" when a prosecutor said that "YSL is a music label and a gang" and that he had knowledge that its members or associates had committed crimes in furtherance of the gang.

What is Young Thug being charged with? What to know as rapper's trial begins

Young Thug's charges in RICO trial

Young Thug is facing racketeering, drug and gun charges related to his alleged involvement with a criminal street gang. The rapper has pleaded not guilty.

A Fulton County grand jury indicted Young Thug in May 2022. A second indictment in August 2022 accuses Young Thug and 27 other people of conspiring to violate Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO. The indictments contain 65 counts of felony charges, six of which apply to Young Thug.

The rapper's racketeering conspiracy charge and two gang charges each carry a penalty of five to 20 years in prison. The other five charges also carry potential prison time.

Prosecutors say Young Thug and two other people co-founded a violent criminal street gang in 2012 called Young Slime Life, or YSL, which they say is associated with the national Bloods gang. The indictment says Young Thug "made YSL a well-known name by referring to it in his songs and on social media."

The trial is projected to last months and will likely include testimony from a number of high-profile music industry figures.

Contributing: Kate Brumback and Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press

Young Thug's trial: Lyrics can be used as evidence in gang and racketeering trial

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Young Thug's lawyer says name stands for 'Truly Humble Under God'