Rapper Young Thug, who was arrested on RICO charges in Atlanta two months ago and remains in jail without bond, will be the subject of documentary projects being developed by Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions and Rolling Stone Films, the companies are announcing today.
Jigsaw and Rolling Stone are in the early stages of producing both a documentary series and an audio podcast about the rise and increasing legal problems of Young Thug, aka Jeffrey Williams, and his label, YSL, which a Georgia court said in an indictment was essentially a “criminal street gang.” The hip-hop star has continued to be in the news even this week, as a court in Fulton County, Georgia denied bail to both him and fellow rapper Gunna, citing the potential for witness tampering.
The lack of a conclusion yet to Young Thug’s legal saga is no obstacle for the producers, who are looking to chronicle the dramatic developments “in real time” in two different forms.
Overseeing both Young Thug-related projects as executive producers are Gus Wenner, the CEO of Rolling Stone, and Jason Fine, SVP of Rolling Stone Films. For the documentary series, Stacey Offman and Richard Perello from Jigsaw Productions will serve as executive producers. Sruthi Pinnamaneni will be in charge of the podcast adaptation.
Both projects are currently untitled, and directors have not been set for either.
The companies are describing their multimedia chronicling of Young Thug (pictured above performing at the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago last August) as a tale set against “the larger Atlanta hip-hop boom, and the ongoing RICO case against YSL that accuses Young Thug and 27 other alleged collaborators of crimes ranging from racketeering to murder. The projects seek to separate the fact from the fiction of the criminal charges against YSL members, while also interrogating the controversial practice of prosecutors using rap lyrics as evidence of criminal activity. The result will be a wild, enthralling story of music, money, crime and hip-hop on trial.”
“We’re thrilled to partner with the talented team at Jigsaw to tell this ambitious and important story about one of the most compelling and controversial music scenes of the moment,” said Wenner in a statement. Added Fine, “Rolling Stone’s deep coverage of Atlanta hip-hop gives us unique access and perspective on this story, and we’re excited to tell one of the most fascinating cultural stories today as it unfolds in real time.”
Said Offman, “Jigsaw is thrilled to partner with the formidable team at Rolling Stone to explore Young Thug and YSL Records’ story in a style that is both absorbing and journalistically rigorous. It’s an intriguing narrative with engaging characters and enormous First Amendment consequences when song lyrics are applied in a criminal indictment.”
Jigsaw, a subsidiary of Imagine Entertainment led by Oscar-winning director and producer Gibney, has been behind such documentary features as the Emmy-winning “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” the Oscar-winning “Taxi to the Dark Side,” and such other projects as “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes,” “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” and Gibney’s recent feature “The Forever Prisoner.”
Rolling Stone has been moving into the documentary film as well as podcast spaces with such projects as a Showtime docuseries about embattled rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine, “Supervillain,” a Gibney-directed documentary about the history of Rolling Stone for HBO, a Little Richard documentary (“I Am Everything”) for CNN, and a “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” podcast for Amazon. With former Rolling Stone editor Fine at the helm, Rolling Stone’s multimedia team is said to have more than 35 projects in development or production.