If you listen to some of their lyrics, you would think that they could give zero f—-s about other people’s problems.
But don’t ever say that Yo Gotti and Jay-Z didn’t use their powers for good.
The Memphis-born rap artist and New York-born hip-hop mogul threatened to sue the state of Mississippi with a civil rights lawsuit over the recent violence in state prisons.
On Thursday, a letter was fired off to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and the state’s Department of Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall stating that there will be legal action if prison conditions are not improved.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, the letter mentions frequent prison lockdowns, violence, a staffing shortage and inmates who “are forced to live in squalor, with rats that crawl over them as they sleep on the floor, having been denied even a mattress for a cot.”
Alex Spiro—a New York lawyer representing Roc Nation—signed the letter on behalf of Team Roc, which is the philanthropic/social justice branch of Roc Nation.
He told the outlet that he wrote the letter in collaboration with the celebrities, who did not want to “remain idle spectators with something this inhumane.”
“I just think it’s troubling where you have people, predominantly African American, who are locked inside cages where they don’t have a voice to be heard and are essentially the forgotten,” Spiro said. “It strikes us that there has to be a spotlight on this, otherwise we might not even be scratching the surface of the horror going on inside these prisons.”
In a statement, Yo Gotti, born Mario Mims, called the conditions inside the prisons “absolutely inhumane and unconstitutional.”
“To see this happen so close to my hometown of Memphis is truly devastating,” the “Rake It Up” rapper’s statement said. “That’s why we’re calling on Mississippi state leaders to take immediate action and rectify this issue. If they don’t right this wrong, we’re prepared to take legal action to provide relief for those that are incarcerated and their families.”
Now that more of a spotlight is shining upon them, results seem to be happening in short order.
On Saturday, the Mississippi Department of Corrections posted on Twitter that cleanup is still underway the Mississippi State Penitentiary’s Unit 29 after the recent unrest.