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NY Senate Passes ‘Rap Music On Trial’ Bill Preventing Song Lyrics From Being Used As Evidence In Criminal Case

NY Senate Passes ‘Rap Music On Trial’ Bill Preventing Song Lyrics From Being Used As Evidence In Criminal Case

On Monday, the New York State Senate approved the “Rap Music on Trial” law, a bill that prevents song lyrics from being used as evidence in criminal cases, developing protection for all artists and content creators, including rappers.

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 28: Jay Z attends 40/40 Club Celebrates 18-Year Anniversary With Star-Studded Event at 40 / 40 Club on August 28, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images for 40/40 Club)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 12: Fat Joe attends the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on September 12, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for MTV/ ViacomCBS)

Artists such as Jay-Z and Fat Joe recently signed their names on a letter supporting the legislation intended to secure the freedom of creative expression in New York, banning prosecutors from interpreting rap lyrics as evidence against defendants in courtrooms.

“Rap should not be treated differently from any other art form; yet in courtrooms across the country, artists have been unfairly targeted for simply exercising their right to creative expression,” said Senator Bailey. “Presuming a defendant’s guilt based solely on musical genre or creative expression is antithetical to our foundational rights and perpetuates the systemic racism that is embedded into the criminal justice system through discriminatory conflations of hip-hop and rap with criminality.”

University of Richmond Professor Erik Nielson researched that at least 28 cases of New York criminal prosecutors we’re striving to use rap lyrics as proof of criminal activity since 2017. As recently as last week, the Fulton County District Attorney in Atlanta allowed prosecutors to use rap music from Young Thug in a gamble to prove the rapper’s share in a criminal operation.

Young Thug

young thug

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“Art is creative expression, not a blueprint of criminal plans. Yet we’ve seen prosecutors in New York and across the country try to use rap music lyrics as evidence in criminal cases, a practice upheld this year by Young Thug’s prosecutors. It’s time to end the egregious bias against certain genres of music, like rap, and protect the First Amendment rights of all artists. I’m proud the New York senate passed this legislation so that New York leads the way in treating artists fairly, no matter their race or gender.”

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