YoungBoy Never Broke Again, the chart-topping rapper, was in Los Angeles on Tuesday to launch the first of his two felony gun possession trials. The judge refused to allow YoungBoy’s rap lyrics to be used as evidence in court.
The decision from U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner marked a key ruling in the rapper’s favor amid the pending prosecutions — one in California, one in Louisiana — that are threatening to land the Sincerely, Kentrell artist in prison for years if he’s convicted.
Prosecutors sought to use lyrics from YoungBoy’s songs Gunsmoke, Life SupportAnd Lonely ChildTo prove their case. Prosecutors stated Monday that they were willing to use the lyrics. “FN, Glock, MAC-10s”From Gunsmoke to show Gaulden’s alleged “familiarity and knowledge of FN, the high-end manufacturer of the gun found in (his) car that he denies knowingly possessing.”
Gaulden’s defense team successfully blocked the request, arguing in a dueling filing that the rapper’s lyrics were irrelevant.
“These lyrics are highly prejudicial as they discuss hardcore rap which has been empirically established to be more negatively received than other genres of music. It would be one thing if the music described this arrest. But a song referencing a similar gun well before the gun in the indictment was purchased and another song referencing a jeweler whose relationship with Mr. Gaulden is not in dispute offer very minimal probative value and are substantially outweighed by the prejudice contained within the words of the songs,” Gaulden’s legal team led by Baton Rouge lawyers James P. Manasseh and André Bélanger wrote.
“Even if Mr. Gaulden is familiar with various models of guns and sings about them, it does not mean that he knew this particular gun was secreted on the passenger floor of the Maybach when police attempted to pull his car over to arrest him,”The defense argument.
Now serving pre-trial house arrest after his release from jail in October, YoungBoy, born Kentrell Gaulden, has pleaded not guilty in both the California and Louisiana cases that center on the same charge: that he was a felon in possession of a firearm deemed off-limits due to his 2017 conviction for aggravated assault with a firearm.
The Louisiana case, originally scheduled to be tried first, has been delayed. This is a dispute about allegations that Gaulden had two guns with 16 other Black men when he was detained in Baton Rouge on September 28, 2020. After the indictment was secured, FBI agents began to monitor Gaulden in Los Angeles. They coordinated with LAPD to bring over his Mercedes Maybach on March 22, 2021. The arrest was made using a helicopter and K-9 units. A FN.45 calibre pistol and more than $100,000 worth jewelry from Shyne Jewelers were found on the Maybach’s backseat.
The trial at Los Angeles’ federal court is expected to last for four days. Tuesday morning was the jury selection day. Opening statements were scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
The ruling to exclude Gaulden’s rap lyrics followed after a federal judge in Louisiana upheld a different key ruling last month that a cache of personal videos seized at the time of Gaulden’s Baton Rouge arrest nearly two years ago will remain off-limits to federal prosecutors due to an improper search warrant.