In the past there have been problems with rappers going to court because often prosecutors look through their lyrics for incriminating evidence. This is what happened with known rappers like Boosie Badazz and the late Drakeo The Ruler. It’s even been done when charging underground rappers who may only have a few songs on SoundCloud. The process being used takes rap literally, ignoring that it’s a form of art and can be filled with fictional stories or exaggerations. Prosecutors using this method is what has led to so many rappers going to prison. Although, there may be a change in the future. The New York State law, that is being proposed, is wanting to stop use of the process. This bill has a ton of backing from famous rappers, one of them being Jay-Z.
The bill doesn’t entirely ban the use of rap lyrics in trial. It asks that the prosecutor gives good evidence that points to lyrics as being literal rather than fictional.
Back in November, the bill was first introduced. Since then, it’s passed the Senate Codes committee. Along with Jay-Z, some of the other artists that signed the letter are Meek Mill, Killer Mike, Big Sean, Yo Gotti, Fat Joe, Kelly Rowland and Robin Thicke.
Here’s what the letter said,
“This reform is urgently needed. Rather than acknowledge rap music as a form of artistic expression, police, and prosecutors argue that the lyrics should be interpreted literally — in the words of one prosecutor, as “autobiographical journals” — even though the genre is rooted in a long tradition of storytelling that privileges figurative language, is steeped in hyperbole, and employs all of the same poetic devices we find in more traditional works of poetry.”
Alex Spiro, Jay-Z’s lawyer is hopeful that if the law passes in New York, other area areas may be inspired to do so as well.
Photo credit: Sharon Alagna