Yak Gotti’s legal team is fighting to bar his lyrics from being used as evidence in the trial.
The rapper and his legal team are invoking a unique defense strategy in his ongoing RICO trial with co-defendant Young Thug, drawing parallels between his artistic expression and the iconic performance of Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.”
Yak Gotti, along with other YSL members, including Young Thug, was charged in a sweeping RICO case in May 2022.
The RICO case against dozens of YSL members, including Yak Gotti, stems from a series of allegations linking the label to violent gang activities.
One of the most notable incidents connected to this case is the murder of Donovan “Nut” Thomas in 2015, a crime that prosecutors allege was a catalyst for further gang-related violence in Atlanta.
Young Thug, although not charged with murder, is accused of renting a car used in Thomas’s killing, an act that prosecutors claim triggered additional gang-related crimes
Yak Gotti gained prominence after his collaboration on “Take It To Trial” with Young Thug and Gunna And now the lyrics from that song could work against him and cost him his freedom.
In a bold legal move, Yak Gotti’s defense is challenging the admissibility of his rap lyrics in court.
Drawing an analogy to Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance in “The Shining,” his lawyers argue that the artistic expression in his lyrics, performed under the persona of Yak Gotti, should not be conflated with his real-life actions.
They contend that just as Nicholson’s portrayal of a fictional character should not be held against him in a real-life legal situation, so too should Yak Gotti’s lyrics be seen as separate from Kendrick’s actions.
The defense specifically points to lyrics such as “I rep my life for real … For slimes you know I kill” from the song “Take It to Trial” released in 2020 and “Knockin’ off yo big homie b####” from “Mob Ties,” released in 2020.
They argue that these lyrics, while provocative, are irrelevant under legal standards and their probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.
Douglas S. Weinstein, Yak Gotti’s lawyer, emphasized that the lyrics are part of a long tradition of call and response in music, with no direct connection to the allegations against Kendrick.
“This video [for ‘Mob Ties’ is a perfect example of the problems with the admission of lyrics, for it takes a single line out of context. Let’s give it context. This particular line is a response, to a call issued by another rapper who says, ‘Knockin’ off yo big homie b####,” Weinstein explained.
“This lyric is in a rap video, where Yak Gotti appears and raps almost nothing for the majority of the video…It is in a long tradition of call and response that was brought to America by slaves bringing their tradition with them. It has been used from Cab Calloway to Michael Jackson to Missy Elliot,” Weinstein added.
The case has sparked a broader debate on the use of artistic expression in criminal proceedings, with implications for the First Amendment and the freedom of artists to create without fear of their work being used against them in legal contexts.
Earlier this week, Judge Ural Glanville also ruled that young thug’s lyrics and social media posts were admissible It is upcoming trial, dealing a significant legal blow to the rapper’s defense.