Fat Joe showed support for Young Thug during a discussion about the Atlanta rapper’s ongoing RICO trial on CNN’s King Charles Nov. 30. While chatting with Gayle King, legal analyst Laura Coates and Charles Barkley, the “Lean Back” hitmaker said that it was a “travesty” Young Thug’s lyrics were being used against him in his controversial trial.

“I’ve been rapping professionally for 30 years — I’ve lied in almost 95 percent of my songs,” Joe, 53, told the trio during their discussion. “I’m being honest. I write like I feel that day. I’m just being creative. You couldn’t build a jail high enough for the lyrics I’ve said on songs which are all untrue.”


Joe insisted that some of the crime and drug-related lyrics that he as rapped about in the past were in no way a reflection of the “family man” he truly is inside.


“What I am is I’m a family man, someone who gives back to his community all the time. I opened businesses in my community so the music would never amount to the actual person Joseph Cartegena,” he continued. “What’s even more horrible is the District Attorneys. They know those lyrics ain’t real. They know that’s creativity, but if it helps their case, they’ll use it to put these guys in jail. And we are having a fun show about it and discussion. But there really is six defendants in Atlanta who might spend the rest of their life in jail for something that’s totally not true. This is very, very serious. This destroys families.”

In November, Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville gave prosecutors the green light to use lyrics as evidence against Young Thug in his high-profile RICO trial.

In 2022, the “Hot” rapper and over 20 defendants associated with his Young Stoner Life record label were indicted for allegedly violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The law is used to prosecute individuals or organizations for criminal acts.

The group was accused of operating a criminal street gang called Young Slime Life (YSL) in Atlanta. Prosecutors believe that Thugger used his music to promote YSL and accused the alleged gang of carrying out aggravated robbery, murders and carjackings, according to the Associated Press. Young Thug has vehemently denied the allegations.

Georgia’s RICO law extends far beyond federal law. According to CNN, it “allows prosecutors to pull an array of conduct – including activities that took place outside of the state of Georgia but may have been part of a broad conspiracy” to indict individuals or crime organizations.

During the King Charles segment, Coates said that she also stood by the Atlanta rapper. 

“If I was his defense attorney, I would do exactly what they are doing, which [is] say, he is just an artist. I can no longer charge him as if you were to say, I’m going to charge Picasso because he didn’t accurately depict the way the dimensions of the face [should] actually should look. It’s an artistic license. However, you got that RICO charge.”

Barkley argued that an artist should have freedom of speech to protect their lyrics, which Coates agreed, but the legal analyst broke down why freedom of speech isn’t being seen as permissible in the eyes of the court. 

“They’re really saying you are free to say what you’re saying, but you’re not going to be not liable for what you said,” Coates explained. “If I were to hire somebody as a hitman. I had the freedom of speech to say it, but I can be prosecuted for having asked the person to do it.”

In 2022, Jay-Z teamed up with Fat Joe, Meek Mill and other prominent artists in hip-hop to advocate for the “Rap Music On Trial” bill.

The bill, which was passed in New York’s State Senate last year, will limit the admissibility of a defendant’s music or other forms of creative expression as evidence shown to a jury. If passed, the bill would require prosecutors to provide “clear and convincing evidence” that a defendant’s creative expression, such as a rap song, is “literal, rather than figurative or fictional,” Rolling Stone noted.  The bill must pass the New York State Assembly before it can be enacted into law.

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