In the two months since the official start of the racketeering and gang conspiracy trial of chart-topping rapper Young Thug and his Atlanta rap crew YSL, both the prosecution and defense teams have submitted a disorientingly vast array of people, events, and details to the record. The sprawling, 56-count RICO indictment cast a wide net, which in turn opened up the rapper’s lyrics, music videos, tweets, and even emoji usage as evidence for jurors to consider.
Last week, jurors viewed a video of star defendant Young Thug and fellow YSL rapper Gunna being arrested during a 2017 traffic stop. Per trial footage, Thug’s attorney Keith Adams paused the years-old video during cross-examination to highlight a curious detail: Thug’s long-sleeved Fear of God logo shirt.
“What’s his shirt say?” Adams asked the arresting officer David Fikes, referring to an image still from the incident.
“Fear of God,” the officer replied. They each repeated the phrase again (“Fear of God?” “Fear of God”), but neither elaborated further.
Fear of God is, of course, the blockbuster Los Angeles-based fashion label founded by designer Jerry Lorenzo in 2013.
It was a moment that caught the attention of legal affairs journalist Meghann Cuniff, who earned the internet’s admiration—as well as the affectionate nickname “Meghann Thee Reporter”—last year for her extensive coverage of Tory Lanez’s felony-assault sentencing. Cuniff excerpted the moment on X, writing: “Prosecutors in [Young Thug’s] trial have asked where in his songs he mentions God or humble, to try to refute defense claim that thug means truly humble under God. On Tuesday, they entered into evidence a photo of Thug wearing a Fear of God shirt.”
Cuniff was referring to a claim Thug’s defense team made early on, which would become one of many other strange incidentals wrought by lawyers on both sides in this case: on the second day of the trial in November, defense attorney Brian Steel asserted the rap moniker of his client (whose legal name is Jeffrey Williams) was a reference to his Christian faith, rather than a possible insinuation of criminality.
“‘Thug’ meant and means to Jeffery something very personal,” Steel said in November. “It was his pact that if he could ever make it as a musical artist and help his family, himself, and as many others out of this endless cycle of hopelessness, he would be truly humbled under God. That’s what ‘T.H.U.G.’ means.” Which, presumably, is why fellow defense lawyer Adams pointed out Thug’s God-fearing shirt in the clip.
Fear of God has been hugely popular among celebrities for years, and it makes sense that a fashion plate like Thugger would’ve had a logo shirt or two in his closet in 2017. According to Sowmya Krishnamurthy’s 2023 book Fashion Killa: How Hip-Hop Revolutionized High Fashion, Thug and Lorenzo both served as mentors during a 2016 VFiles runway show where, incidentally, Thug first encountered the blue, full-skirted Alessandro Trincone dress he wore for the cover of his influential 2016 mixtape Jeffrey.
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