Artists in hip hop are rallying up to make a change!
A handful of rappers seek to ban lyrics from rap music being used against artists in New York courts. As reported on Rolling Stone, artists like Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Fat Joe, Big Sean, Yo Gotti, Killer Mike, Kelly Rowland, Robin Thicke, and others are pushing for the “Rap Music on Trial” bill. They signed a letter today (January 19) urging New York lawmakers to pass it.
If passed, the legislation would limit the admissibility of a defendant’s song lyrics or other “creative expression” as evidence of an alleged crime. Prosecutors would have to prove that musical lyrics are “literal, rather than figurative or fictional” using “clear and convincing evidence.”
In a statement, Hov’s lawyer Alex Spiro said, “This is an issue that’s important to [JAY-Z] and all the other artists that have come together to try to bring about this change. This is a long time coming. Mr. Carter is from New York, and if he can lend his name and his weight, that’s what he wants to do.”
The legislation was first introduced last November by New York Senators Brad Hoylman and Jamaal Bailey. They want lawmakers to see that “art is creative expression, not a blueprint of criminal plans.” Bailey said,
“The right to free speech is enshrined in our federal and state constitutions,” Bailey said at the time. “The admission of art as criminal evidence only serves to erode this fundamental right, and the use of rap and hip-hop lyrics, in particular, is emblematic of the systemic racism that permeates our criminal justice system,” The Guardian reports.
The Senate Codes committee passed the Rap Music on Trial bill on Tuesday (January 18), but a total vote from the Senate has to happen.