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Young Thug's racketeering charges show how hip-hop is still criminalized14:42
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Gunna and Young Thug perform at half time during game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics on November 17, 2021 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. (Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Gunna and Young Thug perform at half time during game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics on November 17, 2021 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. (Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Influential rappers Young Thug and Gunna were arrested last week under an 88-page indictment that named nearly 30 people and contained evidence going as far back as 2013. These high-profile arrests mark a rising trend in the criminalization of hip-hop artists under the RICO Act — that's short for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization, a law that was originally designed to fight organized crime like the mafia.

Louder Than A Riot hosts Sidney Madden and Rodney Carmichael sit down with Weekend Edition Sunday's Ayesha Rascoe to unpack this news and examine how the artists are being policed — from the application of the word "gang" to describe rap crews, to the use of art as evidence.

In this update to our previous reporting on the cases of DJ Drama, Mac Phipps and Bobby Shmurda, we consider the tension between fans that applaud street cred and the law enforcement that uses it as evidence.

To connect with us, follow the show on Twitter @LouderThanARiot, or send us an email at louder@npr.org.

Copyright NPR 2022.

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