Rapper Gunna releases letter from jail on his 29th birthday

‘I am innocent,’ star tells millions of followers

Atlanta rapper Gunna released a statement from jail Tuesday morning maintaining his innocence as he and 27 others face criminal charges laid out in a sweeping Fulton County gang indictment.

In the letter posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts on his 29th birthday, the hip-hop star, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, said 2022 has been one of the best years of his life “despite this difficult situation.”

He was jailed last month on a racketeering charge after the sprawling indictment accused him and fellow musician Young Thug of being the leaders of a southwest Atlanta gang.

The 56-count indictment targeted alleged members of the Young Slime Life gang and includes charges ranging from drug and gun possession to murder.

“Growing up where I come from in a marginalized neighborhood, I never dreamt my art would change my life and the lives of my loved ones,” Kitchens wrote in the statement posted to his millions of social media followers.

Gunna (left) speaks with reporters alongside Young Thug after posting bond for several Fulton County inmates.

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The “Pushin P” rapper said he worked hard to make it in the music industry and maintained his innocence in the case against him.

“For now, I don’t have my freedom. But I am innocent,” he said. “I am being falsely accused and will never stop fighting to clear my name!”

He went on to say the picture being painted of him is “ugly and untrue” and that he has “faith that God will grant me justice for the purity in my heart and the innocence of his actions.”

Prosecutors allege YSL members are responsible for a spate of thefts, shootings and killings across Atlanta, among other crimes.

Attorneys for Kitchens and Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, strongly deny the charges. They contend YSL, or Young Stoner Life, is simply the rappers’ record label, not a street gang as prosecutors allege.

The indictment uses some of the musicians’ lyrics against them, with prosecutors alleging the stars committed crimes and then memorialized them in popular songs.

Many argue Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her team are attempting to build a case around the rappers’ freedom of expression, a right they believe should protected.

“It is intensely problematic that the state relies on song lyrics as part of its allegations,” Kitchens’ attorneys wrote in a motion for bond. “These lyrics are an artist’s creative expression and not a literal recounting of facts and circumstances.”

At a news conference last month, Willis called the First Amendment “one of our most precious rights,” but said free speech doesn’t protect someone from having their own words become evidence in a criminal proceeding.

Speaking in support of Williams’ release during a bond hearing earlier this month, music executive Kevin Liles declared “hip-hop is on trial.”

“As a Black man in America, it seems as though my art is only acceptable when I’m a source of entertainment for the masses,” Kitchens said in Tuesday’s statement. “My art is not allowed to stand alone as entertainment.”

Kitchens’ attorneys say the DA’s indictment falsely portrays his music as part of a “criminal conspiracy,” and cited the artist’s charitable work in the community as one of the reasons he should be granted bond. Among his philanthropic acts was the creation of a free grocery and clothing store for underprivileged students at his former middle school in Fulton County, his attorneys said. The rapper also hosted nationally-sponsored giveaways to collect food and supplies for the victims of natural disasters.

Those arrested in the case remain in jail after prosecutors repeatedly raised concerns about ongoing violence and witness intimidation. Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville has scheduled the trial for Jan. 9, 2023.