"Most people think about a thug as a criminal, but to Jeffery, 'thug' had a different meaning," said lawyer Brian Steel in an Atlanta court on Tuesday.
Young Thug's defense lawyer said his name stands for 'Truly Humble Under God'
An attorney defending Young Thug in his RICO trial said the Grammy winner's moniker actually stands for "Truly Humble Under God."
Steel said Young Thug desired to break his community out of poverty and an "endless cycle of hopelessness," and that if he achieved his goal, he would be "Truly Humble Under God."
"That's what 'thug' means," said Steel, who also alluded to Tupac Shakur saying "Thug Life" was an acronym for denouncing hate.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has charged Young Thug, whose given name is Jeffery Williams, with cofounding and running an Atlanta street gang called Young Slime Life, which shares an acronym with his record label, Young Stoner Life.
'Pushin P' is 'Pushing Positivity,' lawyer says
But during his opening statement, Steel told jurors that YSL was, in fact, a reference to the French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent.
"They call themselves YSL because the pants, tight-fitting pants, the women's pants that they're wearing it says YSL, Yves Saint Laurent. That's where that comes from," Steel said.
Steel also said that "pushing P," the title of a song featuring Young Thug, was short for "pushing positivity." Prosecutors had accused Young Thug of flashing a gang sign in a photo he posted online, but Steel said he had actually been shaping his fingers to form a "P".
"It means, any circumstance you're in, if you think positively about something, you can make it through. You're pushing positivity," said Steel.
"Pushin P" is a trending slang phrase that often honors someone for being a "pimp" or "playa," but is loosely defined.
In his main argument, Steel said prosecutors had misrepresented evidence and that it didn't make sense for Young Thug to be running a street gang while he was already a successful rapper.
"He's not sitting there telling people to kill people. He doesn't need their money," Steel said.
Prosecutors have accused Young Thug and 27 other individuals associated with him of racketeering, murder, assault, theft, drug possession, and boasting about their alleged exploits in rap lyrics.
They alleged that Young Thug has been at the center of the Young Slime Life gang, and that gang members sought his permission to kill another rapper.
Steel has said Young Thug was wrongly charged on all counts.
The case involves Georgia's RICO act, or Racketeer Influence and Corruption Organizations Act. Willis prosecuted former President Donald Trump and his associates under the same act.
A RICO conviction can lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
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