Gangsters In Concert
Young Thug has a concert scheduled in three weeks. I have concerns.
“I’m throwing a Young Thug concert at State Farm Arena,” said A’lencio Graham to me a couple of days ago. Graham reached out through Instagram. I’ve been getting a lot of weird DMs over the last few days.
It’s like revealing the details of the murderously lethal beef between YFN Lucci and Young Thug’s crew is some kind of news.
Apparently, it’s news to the people throwing concerts. “I kind of want to know what – I mean, I don’t know how much you can tell me – what the fuck is going on, bro? The arena is terrified. The city keeps calling them. They want me to cancel,” Graham said.
I haven’t been able to verify Graham’s claim with State Farm Arena. They’ve chosen not to comment, and the city hasn’t answered my emails about this either. They appear to have told him that I asked, because he subsequently denied saying it at all.
But he did.
I spent 10 minutes or so with Graham going over the gory details of the feud between YFN Lucci and Young Thug, The gang war between the Inglewood Family / Bird Gang-affiliated groups in Atlanta, including Rayshawn Bennett (YFN Lucci) and Young Slime Life, fronted by Jeffrey Lamar Williams (Young Thug) has been raging since 2015 after the murder of Donovan “Peanut” Thomas. It has played out in Instagram posts and diss tracks, and in shootings left and right over the last seven years.
I also discussed two deaths that have floated under the radar, those of Darius “Big” Ford and Christian “MC Maine” McMiller. The two were murdered in a highway shooting on the downtown connector on March 11 around 4 a.m. that morning. Both were close to Quantavious Grier — the rapper Unfoonk, brother of Young Thug.
Shortly after their murder, police said two other men were shot in south Atlanta near Cleveland Avenue, which is YSL’s traditional stomping grounds.
Unfoonk apparently posted and deleted a video discussing … well, street stuff, right around the same time. If you have that video, I’d love to see it. Ping me. Unfoonk is a free man only because his brother paid very expensive attorneys to get his murder conviction overturned last year. Grier had been serving a life sentence for killing a man over $1,500.
Anything I’ve written and am likely to write is an oversimplification of frustratingly complex local street politics. For one: YFN isn’t the only local street gang beefing with YSL. I’m working through the details, but a street gang called PFK — Play For Keeps — has a standing feud with YSL over the murder of Atlanta rapper Lil Marlo in February 2020. That story is a doozy, running through a botched prosecution of a murder in DeKalb County. There’s more. Sadly.
I can’t draw a map yet. What’s clear is that there’s been an escalation of violence in the last couple of weeks, and a substantial part of that can be attributed to gang violence.
Graham is a young law student and former standout college football player who said he’s connected to the local club scene. He founded A1 Events in October, apparently as a vehicle for this concert, since I can see little other activity associated with the brand. When I asked which clubs around town his family operates, he quickly escaped the call.
A1 Events shares a business address with the Vivide strip club on Atlanta’s west side, near Bad Axe.
I note in passing that there was a shooting at Vivide on March 6. Someone subsequently dropped a man off at Grady Hospital with gunshot wounds … who wouldn’t talk to the police.
I suggested a connection between these feuds and the bowling alley murder March 17 of LaKevia Jackson, mother of Young Thug’s 14-year-old son Kyvion. I make that connection not from some specific piece of evidence, but from statistical inference, given everything else swirling around people close to Thug and YFN Lucci.
Last year, 158 people were murdered in the city of Atlanta and police believe fewer than half were by someone unknown to the attacker. Truly random lethal violence between strangers is rare, accounting for perhaps a fifth of cases.
Amid the escalation in violence which appears to have begun at the start of the year — 35 homicides, or 10 “excess” murders this year over 2021 so far — the idea that a close family member of Young Thug would be one of the seven people80 we would expect, statistically, to be killed “at random” out of 507,000 people in Atlanta … is absurd. One chance in 72,429. Even if you factor in socioeconomic factors, placing her in the highest risk-category statistical bands of very-low income households in high-violence census tracts, a random shooting of a family member of Young Thug who has no history of violence herself is about 25,000 to one against in this time frame.
It really doesn’t matter what I think of all of this. The broader question is what the assorted gangs of Atlanta think about all of this.
All of this said: I think it’s unlikely that State Farm Arena is going to be shot up at a rap concert. As a new friend who walks these streets told me last night, it would be bad form, never mind bad judgment. It’s more likely that the war will continue where it has been raging, in the parking lots of hookah bars and back alleys of Cleveland Avenue.