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Jay-Z and Fat Joe Team Up to Block Rap Lyrics From Being Used in Court

Rap mogul Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, is leading a group that includes the likes of Fat Joe, Big Sean, Yo Gotti, Kelly Rowland, Killer Mike, Robin Thicke, and other rappers who are advocating for a new law in the U.S. that would prevent their lyrics from coming back to bite them in a courtroom.

The rappers are asking New York lawmakers to consider a proposed bill named “Rap Music on Trial” (S.7527/A.8681).

The bill seeks to limit the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal cases, something that overwhelmingly affects Black and Brown defendants. The letter, obtained by Billboardstates that rap is not afforded the same artistic leeway as other forms of art.

“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,’” the letter reads, “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.”

A statement from Jay-Z’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.”

Fat Joe told Rolling Stone: “Our lyrics are a creative form of self-expression and entertainment – just like any other genre.

The bill was first put forward by New York state senators Brad Hoylman and Jamaal Bailey.

They hope the proposed legislation will stop prosecutors citing lyrics in the courtroom, unless there was ‘clear and convincing proof’ of a link between lyrics and a crime.

Senator Bailey believes rappers should be entitled to their right to free speech and including their art as criminal evidence ‘only serves to erode this fundamental right’.

“The use of rap and hip-hop lyrics in particular is emblematic of the systemic racism that permeates our criminal justice system,” he said.


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Copyright 2022 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to and other relevant sources.

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