Atlanta, GA – Gunna has broken his silence following his May 11 arrest as part of a sweeping, 56-count RICO indictment against his and Young Thug’s YSL (Young Slime Life) collective, which prosecutors have accused of being a “criminal street gang.”
In an open letter penned behind bars and shared to his social media channels on Tuesday (June 14) — which happens to be his 29th birthday — the Atlanta rapper maintains his innocence while addressing the high-profile legal case that has captured the attention of the Hip Hop community.
Gunna (real name Sergio Kitchens) has been charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, with prosecutors tying him to YSL’s alleged crimes through various social media posts and photos of him wearing YSL chains.
“2022 has been one of the best years of my life, despite this difficult situation. This year I had the whole world pushing P,” the letter begins. “Growing up from where I come from in a marginalized neighborhood, I never dreamt my art would change my life and the lives of my loved ones.
“My entire life, I’ve seen Black Men, Black Women and Black Children constantly attacked, hated, murdered, berated, belittled, silenced, judged, used and held captive.”
Gunna, who remains in jail after being denied bond, goes on to reflect on his journey to becoming a successful rapper and the positive influence he has on his community, before shooting down the “false” accusations and expressing his confidence that he’ll be released in due time.
“I used my art form, my gift from God, to change my circumstance,” he continues. “I worked, I honed my craft, I worked, I empowered Black Women in my industry, I worked, I lived in the recording studio, I worked, I lived on the road, I worked. I worked everyday to show God how grateful I am for my gift, for my art, for my life and to be able to provide for my loved ones.
“For now, I don’t have my freedom. But I am innocent. I am being falsely accused and will never stop fighting to clear my name! The picture being painted of me is ugly and untrue. My fans know I love to celebrate life, I love my family, I love travel, I love music, I love my fans. I have all faith that God will grant me justice for the purity in my heart and the innocence of my actions.”
Gunna closes his letter by touching on the debate around rap lyrics being used in court and the connection between slavery and prison in the U.S., while offering up a new and defiant definition of his “Pushin P” catchphrase.
“As a Black Man in America, it seems as thought my art is only acceptable when I’m a source of entertainment for the masses,” he writes. “My art is not allowed to stand alone as entertainment, I’m not allowed that freedom as a Black Man in America. It is a sad reality that slavery is still alive in America today and still affecting my people. In 12 states more than half of the prison population is Black, one of those states is Georgia.
“Nothing will stop me from chasing my dreams, I won’t stop being a good person, even if some unnamed and unknown accusers want the world to see me as a bad person. When I was free, I was good and kind to the community around me and, when I am released, I will do the same thing all over again.”
He concludes, “We still pushing P: Power, Prayer, Progress, Passion, Productivity, Praise, Precision, Peace, Prosperity, Patience, Pride and Persistance.”
Gunna also sheds light on his jail experience in his Instagram caption, writing, “22 & 2, just a bed & a shower, no windows just walls. Can’t see or talk to anyone. I’m writing now & still praying everyday . I was raised to fight fire with water, even tho my country’s amendments have failed me! PROTECT BLACK ART!”
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Gunna’s letter was met with an outpouring of praise and support in his Instagram comments section, with rap peers such as T.I., Bun B, Bobby Shmurda, Dave East, Doe Boy and more voicing their support.
“Every storm runs outta rain lil bro. Just continue to stand solid & search for the lesson in it all. We wit ya [100 percent] King,” T.I. wrote, while Bun added, “Keep your head up homie! God got you! Free the guys!”
Gunna’s letter comes shortly after Young Thug addressed fans in a recorded voice message broadcast during Hot 97’s Summer Jam on Sunday (June 12), where he and Gunna were scheduled to perform.
“I just want to say thank you to all of my friends and my family for coming out and supporting us. You know, your support during this time means a lot to us, ya know,” he said. “You know, this isn’t just about me or YSL, I always use my music as a form of artistic expression, and now I see that Black artists and rappers don’t have that, you know, freedom. Everybody please sign the ‘Protect Black Art’ petition and keep praying for us. I love you all.”
A trial for both Gunna and Young Thug has been set for January 9, 2023.